The center of gravity in a hybrid is lower and farther behind the club face than in a long iron, which enables players to get the ball airborne more easily. The face and sole are designed to allow the club to glide through rough for solid ball contact, rather than dig into or bounce off the thicker grass.
Hybrids vary in loft and shape. Each club is identified either by the loft angle or the iron it is replacing. Some club heads are shaped to appear slim--similar to an iron--at address, while others may have a more bulbous head--similar to a fairway wood.
Hybrids are used to achieve the same distance as the iron they are replacing. They can also be used effectively out of heavy rough, for bump-and-run shots onto the green and for putts or short chips where rough influences the backstroke.
Hybrids are often referred to as "utility" clubs because of their versatility on all surfaces. Some players call them "rescue" clubs because of their strong performance in adverse conditions, like deep rough or tight lies.
In August 2009, Y.E. Yang won the PGA Championship after a brilliant shot from the rough with a utility club on the tournament's final hole. This approach shot, which stopped 12 feet from the hole, set up the winning birdie putt.