Utility Iron vs Hybrid: Which One Should I Carry?

The majority of golfers should select the hybrid due to the low center of gravity and larger sweet spot compared to the utility iron. The golfer with a swing speed over 105, might benefit from the utility iron and precision and accuracy that it can provide.

The wonderful thing about golf today is the many options for golf clubs to make up your set of 14 clubs that you are allowed to carry.

The technology in today’s game is designed to make the game easier, but many struggle to get better.  This might be the case because golfers do not experiment enough with the new technology or lack awareness of what is right for their game.

I asked the question several months ago about whether I should be carrying a utility iron or a hybrid.  For years, I had a typical setup of a driver, 3 wood, hybrid and then iron, wedges and a putter.

Recently, I started experimenting with a utility iron as I saw more and more of my playing partners utilizing this club.  Back in the day, I did carry a 2 iron, but it was always hard to hit.  

Enter the utility iron into the picture and it is a game changer, just like the hybrid can be a game changer for many.

I completed my own test of the Utility Iron vs Hybrid. Below are my results in the chart.

Process: I set up at the 2nd hole at Pebble Beach on my golf simulator on automatic rewind.  I hit utility iron and then hybrid for 5 total rounds.  I collected the data for each shot and share it below.

Goal: Help golfers determine the major differences between the utility iron and hybrid

Data Collected: Carry Distance

Utility Iron vs Hybrid Distance

Club #Shot #Carry Distance (Yards)
2 Utility Iron1230
2 Utility Iron2228
2 Utility Iron3222
2 Utility Iron4219
2 Utility Iron5226
3 Hybrid1207
3 Hybrid2201
3 Hybrid3210
3 Hybrid4208
3 Hybrid5207

What is a Utility Iron used for?

Tee shots on narrow par 4s and 5s, longer approach shots into par 4s, and 2nd shots on par 5s.  It can be interchangeable with a fairway wood or hybrid depending on the needs and skills of each golfer.  The golfer seeking greater precision in accuracy and distance control, who has quality swing speed and skill might select the utility iron.

The club can be a difficult club to hit for many golfers as swing speed is vital as well as striking the center of the club face.  The sweet spot is not very large, but when the sweet spot is hit the club is rather accurate.

My favorite utility iron around! The Titleist u510!

So which one should you carry?  Utility Iron vs Hybrid

If you have a driver swing speed of 105 miles per hour or higher and can hit solid irons, you should consider the utility iron.  If you swing speed is below 105 miles per hour with the driver, the recommendation is the hybrid.

Below, I will dive into the pros of both the utility iron and the hybrid to help you make the right decision for your game!

Here are the Pros of both the Utility Iron and the Hybrid

Top 3 reasons to carry the Utility Iron

  • Easier to hit straight 
  • Easier to control ball flight
  • Lower spin rate

Top 3 reasons to carry the Hybrid

  • Higher launching club
  • Great out of the rough
  • Might fly further

Below, I will provide details on each of the benefits listed above.  Ready!

Utility Iron: Easier to Hit Straight

For the golfer with a swing speed above 100 miles per hour that tends to hit an aggressive draw, the hybrid can start to over draw and cause some hooking issues.  While the utility iron is more stable and easier to hit straight.  I have found this to be my number one reason to utilize the utility iron. 

I am tired of the over draw with the hybrid, which was especially true anytime I was hitting a shot into the wind.

The utility iron is easier to have less side spin on the ball and to hit your target.  The overall versatility of being able to use the club off of the tee box or out of the fairway or rough makes it my go to club.  I have the stability of an iron with the distance of a fairway wood or hybrid. 

The extra thickness in the utility iron gives one confidence over the ball and one can truly have a feeling of being able to launch the ball and go at it.  While many golfers with higher swing speeds might hesitate with the hybrid in hand.

Resource: Utility Iron vs 3 Wood: which one should I carry?

Utility Iron: Easier to Control Ball Flight

With the hybrid, the only real option is to launch the ball high.  Trying to hit a lower, stinger like shot can be difficult with the hybrid.  Any higher level golfer, who can control the flight of his or her golf ball will appreciate the utility iron as hitting a stinger or lower flighted shot is much easier when compared to the hybrid.  This may be because of the weighting of the club and the confidence one gets standing over the ball.

If you also need to hit a shot higher and further, the utility iron comes through in this situation as well.  The versatility of hitting the ball high or low helps the higher level golfer with the various shots that they are faced with around the course.

The utility irons were originally designed for the professional golfers who face many long par 3s and want to be aggressive on their 2nd shots into par 5s that are reachable.  It helps reduce the fear of the pull or hook shot left, while providing the golfer with the precision and accuracy of a longer iron.

Check current pricing on utility irons, here.

Utility Iron: Low Spin Rate

The lower spin rate that results from the utility iron helps keep the ball straight and keeps it from ballooning.  Once again, very important when hitting into a head wind on those par 4 tee shots or approach shots on a par 5.  The hybrid can tend to get caught in the wind with the higher spin rate and the higher launch shot that results.  The balloon shots are pretty much eliminated with the utility iron and the end result is a shot that has a better shot dispersion from left to right.

The low spin rate can help with overall distance off the tee when the golfer wants to play conservaite, but doesn’t want to lose too much distance.  The lower spinning shot at the right launch angle can have some impressive carry. 

Recently, in one of my rounds, I was shocked at the total carry distance on a downhill, down wind shot and just how far the ball carried.  I was able to go at the shot without fear of the hook left.  I am pretty much able to eliminate the left side of the course with the utility iron in hand.

If your fairway woods, hybrids or long irons look like this, it is time for an upgrade!

Hybrid Iron: Higher Launch Club

For the golfer that struggles to hit the ball high enough or far enough, the hybrid is a great option.  These lightweight clubs make launching the ball so much easier than a long iron.  If this is what is needed in your game, the hybrid is a great option.

Resource: 3 hybrid vs 3 wood

Too many golfers, especially senior golfers or those that lack overall swing speed, stay with the long irons too long and should highly consider adding a range of hybrids to the bag.  As the swing speed slows dow, the need to launch the ball higher to be able to hold greens is essential. 

This is where the hybrids are such a great option for many golfers out there.

Resource: Are hybrid clubs good for beginners?

Hybrid Iron: Great out of the Rough

The hybrid golf club provides plenty of power and speed through shots out of the rough.  The club can slice through thick grass much easier than an iron, which can tend to turn and twist in the longer rough, especially with the long irons.

The ability to gain some quality distance on the par 5s when you are in the rough is important to have a quality 3rd shot into par 5s.  This is especially true for those that struggle with having enough distance to play the course.

Check current pricing on hybrids, here.

Resource: When to use a hybrid club

Hybrid Iron: Might Fly Further

Once again, the golfer who struggles with total swing speed, will gain more distance with the hybrid then compared to the utility iron.  This is a result of being able to launch the ball higher, spin at a slightly higher rate and overall carry the distance needed to be a game changer. 

The golfer with a swing speed below 90 miles per hour should highly consider a 3 hybrid, 5 hybrid, and a 7 hybrid.  This can replace the 4, 5 and even 6 iron in the bag and make a world of difference.  Instead of struggling to hit a 5 iron from 155 yard, pull out a hybrid and launch the ball higher and further, actually giving you an opportunity to hold the green.

Resource: 5 hybrid vs 5 iron: which one should I carry?

Final Verdict: Utility Iron vs Hybrid

  • If your swing speed is above 100 miles per hour and you can hit solid long irons, you should highly consider the utility iron.  There are options in loft from 18 degrees to 24 degrees on average.  They are often labeled as 2, 3, or 4 iron.  A golfer might consider adding up to two of these options and getting the extra thickness that is provided through the utility iron when compared to a regular iron.
  • If your swing speed is below 100 miles per hour or you already struggle hitting your 4, 5 or 6 iron, I would highly recommend the hybrid.  Make sure you get the proper shaft for your swing speed.  Too light of a shaft for those around 100 miles per hour can bring the pull shot or the overdraw shot into play with the hybrid.

Utility Iron vs 4 Iron

Utility Iron vs Hybrid Distance

Club #Shot #Carry Distance (Yards)
2 Utility Iron1230
2 Utility Iron2228
2 Utility Iron3222
2 Utility Iron4219
2 Utility Iron5226
4 Iron1201
4 Iron2202
4 Iron3202
4 Iron4203
4 Iron5201

Key Takeaways

  • The utility iron is sifnicantly longer than the irion (as expected)
  • The range of the 4 iron in distance was 201-203 (great precision)
  • The range of the utility iron in distance was 226-230 (not bad precision, but larger range)
  • The 4 iron had a tighter dispersion compared to the utility iron

Utility Iron vs Hybrid: What To Do Next?

Go Out and Test and Measure

If you are a serious golfer or even someone that just wants to get better, I would highly recommend you consider a portable launch monitor.  I went with the SkyTrak Launch Monitor and it has been a game changer.  I am able to measure the following on every swing during my practice sessions in my home simulator or at the range or golf course:

  • Swing Speed
  • Spin Axis
  • Spin Rate
  • Carry Distance
  • Launch Angle

This helped me compare my current 3 hybrid vs my 3 utility iron.  It give me quality data to make a solid decision.  When you combine the data with the overall performance you experience on a golf course, the decision on what is best for your game becomes easier!

The price range on these portable launch monitors are impressive and affordable.  To check out the currency pricing on our top 3 recommend launch monitor, see the links below.

Here are 3 great recommendations:

If you stop by any PGA Tour even, you will see just about every goler utilizing a launch monitor at some point that week. They may be trying to zero in on their carry distance with wedges, trying out new clubs or keep their swing on the right swing path.  Whatever they may be working on that week, they have quality feedback in real time to make decisions to improve their game!  While you may not be able to afford the Trackman, there are some great options!

Here are 5 Trackman Alternatives

The SkyTrak can be used as part of a simulator or at the driving range and course. See the links at the bottom for more info on a simulator build! it might be more realistic than you would think!

Maybe have a Utility Iron and a Hybrid

If you are back and forth on what is best for your game, maybe buy both, measure them out and figure out what type of course each club might benefit your game.  For example, if you are better with the hybrid off the tee and you are playing a course that has narrow par 4s, take the hybrid with you. 

If you like hitting the utility iron on par 3s and the course has several longer par 3s, put the utility iron in your bag.  The versatility from course to course or week to week can help you reach your full potential!

Be Honest With Yourself

Too many golfers think they have a certain swing speed and their ego gets in the way of adding the right clubs to their bag.  There should be no shame in adding a hybrid to your bag and taking full advantage of the technology and the benefits of these impressive clubs. 

Just be honest with yourself and measure your swing.  Have the real data to make quality decisions about your club selection and your overall golf game!

What Utility Iron Would You Recommend?

I have tested out different clubs and ended up selecting the Titleist U510.  The forgiveness and overall distance in this club is outstanding.  I feel like I can work it both ways, hit out different lies and have enough carry distance off the tee ball to replace my hybrid.  The overall solid feel of this club is impressive. Check out the range of current utility irons and their current pricing, here.

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