Do You Need a 3 Wood and 3 Hybrid? (Explained)

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In golf, knowing how far you hit your clubs and which clubs to use is crucial.

But, being limited to only 14 clubs in the bag can often present selection problems.

One question I get asked frequently by golfers is whether they need a 3 wood and a 3 hybrid in the bag, or if they both perform the same job on the course.

In this article, I’ll help you understand whether having both a 3 wood and a 3 hybrid makes sense by covering the key differences between each club.

Ready? Let’s go!

Do You Need a 3 Wood and 3 Hybrid?

Typically, 3 woods have around 5 degrees less loft and 2 inches longer shaft length than 3 hybrids. As a result, 3 woods are designed to strike the golf ball about 20 yards further than a 3 hybrid. So, many golfers carry both clubs.

Let’s dive into the details for each club, then compare the differences.

What Is a 3 Wood?

what is a 3 wood
The clubhead design of most 3 woods closely resembles a driver head.

A 3 wood is a fairway wood with about 15 degrees of loft. Essentially, it looks like the little brother of the driver and has a clubhead size of around 140 to 190cc.

Behind the driver, the 3 wood is the second longest club and second least-lofted club in the bag. Therefore, it’s designed to hit the ball pretty long distances.

However, the 3 wood’s long shaft length and lack of loft angle can often result in a lack of forgiveness, especially when hit off a bare lie without a tee.

Here are the pros and cons to be aware of:


  • A great tee-shot alternative to the driver
  • Capable of long distances from a fairway lie 
  • Most clubheads are adjustable to alter forgiveness and flight 


  • Golfers with slower swing speeds struggle to get enough launch 
  • Very hard to hit out of the rough due to the lower loft

What Is a 3 Hybrid?

what is a 3 hybrid
3 hybrids have a smaller clubhead, with slightly more loft angle.

Most 3 hybrids have around 19 degrees of loft, but this can vary by a degree depending on the brand and manufacturer. 

The clubhead size is usually around 120cc, and the hybrid is known to be easier to hit out of the rough. The 3 hybrid is considered a replacement for a 3 iron.

In short, a 3 hybrid looks more like a mix between a fairway wood and an iron.


  • Easy to use and confidence-inducing design 
  • High launch capabilities due to the extra loft and lower CG
  • Impressive forgiveness, even when hitting out of the rough


  • Won’t offer as much distance as a 3 wood
  • Ball flight can be harder to control than with an iron

3 Wood vs 3 Hybrid: The Differences

3 wood vs 3 hybrid

The loft angle isn’t the only notable difference between 3 woods and 3 hybrids.

Next, I’ll show you some of the other variables to be aware of so you can decide if you need both of these in the bag — or if it’s one or the other.

PRO TIP: Remember, even though they are both numbered “3,” the 3 hybrid is a replacement for the 3 iron, not the 3 wood.

For this comparison, I’ll look at the following categories:

  • Distance
  • Swing Speed
  • Forgiveness
  • Playability
  • Ball Flight
  • Playing Conditions

These are all important factors to consider when selecting a golf club.

So, let’s get into it!


The first difference to consider is the distance capabilities of each club.

On average, a stock 3 wood will have a longer shaft length than a 3 hybrid by approximately 2 inches. When combined with around 4 degrees less loft on the clubface, this results in faster ball speeds and greater distance.

In short, you can hit the 3 wood farther than the 3 hybrid. 

The 3 wood will also offer a lower spin as it is a distance club. This means the total roll-out should be more than you will find with the spinnier 3 hybrid.

Swing Speed

The faster your swing speed, the easier it is to use a longer, less-lofted club.

Generally, players with slower swing speeds will do better with a hybrid because the club is shorter and just easier to manage than the longer 3 wood.

In addition, hybrids tend to have a lower center of gravity, making it easier to get the ball up in the air even when you have a slower swing speed.


Most golfers need all the forgiveness they can get in a clubhead.

The 3 hybrid will be more forgiving than the 3 wood. However, there are different models that each manufacturer makes that can vary the level of forgiveness.

For instance, a draw-biased high launch (HL) 3 wood might be more forgiving than a player’s style 3 hybrid with a narrow or streamlined look.

Many 3 hybrids have a lower center of gravity to assist with launch and forgiveness.


For the more experienced golfer, it’s important to consider playability,

AKA: how easy it is to shape the ball around the course by manipulating the flight.

Each of these clubs is considered to be relatively workable. But, the more you want to play around the ball flight, the more likely you’ll need a players’ style club.

As soon as a lower center of gravity and high launch properties are introduced, it becomes much harder to control the shape of your shots.

PRO TIP: If you need playability, go for a traditional players’ style club.

Ball Flight

In general, the 3 wood will have a piercing, low-trajectory ball flight. Conversely, the 3 hybrid offers a slightly higher launch and ball flight.

Each of these can be helpful depending on the conditions you are playing.

For instance, in windy conditions, the low-launching 3 wood can be useful for keeping the ball under the wind for better distance and accuracy.

However, it’s easier to stop a 3 hybrid on the green due to the higher trajectory.

Playing Conditions

Finally, one of the most significant differences between the 3 wood and the 3 hybrid is where you can play the ball from on the golf course.

When hitting from a short tee, the 3 wood and 3 hybrid are equally easy to hit. 

From the fairway, you can expect plenty of success from both clubs. Although, if you have a slower swing speed, the 3 hybrid will probably be easier. 

However, from the rough, the 3 hybrid is considerably easier to hit than the 3 wood. The 3 hybrid has a little extra weight in the sole of the club that helps cut through the rough, getting the ball out with plenty of force and spin.

Check out the video below from Peter Finch, which covers the general differences between hybrids, long irons, and fairway woods:

Final Verdict: Do You Need Both?

In my experience, it’s a good idea to carry both a 3 wood and a 3 hybrid if you have room. I personally carry both and always get a few shots out of each.

However, I wouldn’t suggest giving up a wedge. If you have a 5 wood or 7 wood you don’t use all that often, maybe drop one of them and put the 3 hybrid in. 

The 3 wood is a great substitute for the driver on narrow tee shots, while the 3 hybrid is a versatile and forgiving distance club for long, tricky approaches.

Ultimately, the performance differs enough to warrant carrying both clubs.

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Britt's passion for golf began at age 7, and she's been playing for over 30 years. A Division I College Athlete with a +1 handicap, she's also a former PGA Teaching Professional. Now a business owner and published author, Britt's love for the game continues to inspire golfers of all levels, as she shares her insights and expertise.