What’s in a name? In the case of rescue, utility and hybrid clubs, it’s not much. These three names are used interchangeably among golfers, making it hard to hold a conversation if you don’t have a solid understanding of what this type of club can do. The name “Rescue” was originally used by TaylorMade to brand their line of hybrid clubs, but many TaylorMade fans continue to refer to all hybrid clubs as rescue clubs. Does that make the whole thing about as clear as mud?
What’s a Hybrid?
Hybrid clubs were originally designed to take the place of the harder to hit irons, namely 1 through 4. Because of their low trajectory and small face, these lower-lofted irons were being dumped from many golfers’ bags and replaced with fairway woods. They would do the job, but the longer shafts of the fairway woods made it almost as difficult to hit a ball off of the grass or out of the rough as with the irons. As usual, necessity was the mother of invention, and in response, TaylorMade developed the rescue club, borrowing features from both irons and woods.
Since hybrids are still a relatively new concept, there aren’t a lot of rules governing what is and what is not a “hybrid”. Manufacturers like TaylorMade are working hard to develop better clubs that merge the features of both of the original parents, but other companies sell hybrids that closely resemble irons — in fact, many are simply irons with a few extra features tacked on to make them seem more like a hybrid. Close, but the overall design still screams “Iron!” — these “iron replacements” are basically heavier Irons. They can help your game with brute force, but club head speed slows significantly with these designs.
Modern TaylorMade rescue clubs include the Rocketballz Rescue, Rocketballz Stage 2 Rescue and Burner Superfast 2.0 Rescue Utility lines. These clubs, like the original Rescue line, feature large, wood-like heads that are shallower than those of fairway woods with iron-like lie angles, length and weight. The TaylorMade lines are further enhanced with extremely thin, flexible faces and lower, more forward centers of gravity designed to send your ball further faster.
The hybrids designed in the tradition of the rescue clubs are better in tough spots like thick grass, where an iron-shaped head would snag, twisting your shot off-center or slowing down your club. In general, these clubs are easier to get the ball airborne from a wide variety of settings because of the modified center of gravity paired with the shorter shaft length.
At the end of the day, though, the type of hybrid that works best for you is going to depend a lot on your swing and how you intend to use the club. Need a lot of distance? Go for the rescue club-style hybrids. Does your swing need more momentum? Maybe an iron-style hybrid is the way to go. Don’t be afraid to try both out before settling on the design that works best for you.