Our judges evaluated Hot List candidates in four areas.

  1. Performance ( 45%)
    What happens to the ball when it’s struck by the club.
  2. Innovation ( 30%)
    How a ball’s technology, advances the category.
  3. Look/Sound/Feel ( 20%)
    What the golfer experiences before, during and after impact.
  4. Demand ( 5%)
    The relative interest in a product and its reputation.

(L) Low-Handicapper | (M) Mid-Handicapper | (H) High-Handicapper



Performance 4½ stars
Innovation 4 stars
Look / sound / feel 4½ stars
Demand 2½ stars

Callaway Apex

VERDICT Why would you design a hybrid to perform like an iron? With the Apex, Callaway presents the case that adding a little better performance (distance and height) is all some players want from a hybrid. With a thin, high-strength steel face that wraps around the crown and sole, you’ll see more distance, and the slightly higher centre of gravity produces the climbing ball flight that should hold more greens.

COMMENTS (L) Total player’s hybrid. Very versatile club. I could curve it, hit it high and low. It doesn’t look forgiving, but it is. (M) Its slender size might scare some golfers – until they hit it. (H) I really like the dense feeling at impact.


Big Bertha OS 

Performance 4½ stars
Innovation 4½ stars
Look / sound / feel 4½ stars
Demand 3½ stars

Callaway Big Bertha OS

VERDICT This hybrid is more like a compact fairway wood. The large face uses Callaway’s trademark design that wraps around the crown and sole. The wider heel-to-toe dimensions create more forgiveness on off-centre hits and face flexibility approaching the R&A and USGA limit. It adds an eight-way adjustable hosel across five lofts.

COMMENTS (L) Easy to aim and forgiving. Mis-hits acted like they were flushed. (M) Above-average distance and higher than normal trajectory. Very forgiving through the turf. (H) Very sturdy. Swing smoothly, look up and ball is at perfect trajectory.


Steelhead XR 

Performance 4 stars
Innovation 4 stars
Look / sound / feel 4 stars
Demand 5 stars

Callaway Steelhead XR

VERDICT When trying to replace our long irons, most of us aren’t looking for subtlety. This entry unabashedly goes after the distance-and-forgiveness gaps in your long game. Plus-size compared to Callaway’s XR 16 hybrids, the oversize frame, large cupface extending around the crown and sole, and a deep centre of gravity produce shots with more speed, stabilize off-centre hits and launch shots higher.

COMMENTS (L)  It will make a high-handicapper feel comfortable. You could get away with a lot. (M) When you catch one, it has horsepower to spare. (H) Whether you’re in the fairway or light rough, you’re getting that shot to the green.


King F7 

Performance 4 stars
Innovation 4½ stars
Look / sound / feel 4 stars
Demand 3½ stars

Cobra King F7

VERDICT Hybrids need to do two things well that a lot of golfers find difficult with their long irons – get the ball in the air and out of the rough. For the King F7, the key to solving these problems is a low centre of gravity. A 13-gram tungsten weight in the sole helps provide a higher ball flight, and the rails lower the CG and keep the club gliding through the turf.

COMMENTS (L) They have adjustability figured out. I was able to launch the ball high really easily. (M) It had just the right amount of ting at impact. This will hold greens without sacrificing distance. (H) The rails really helped the turf interaction. The ball flight settled in the air and landed softly.


Performance 5 stars
Innovation 4 stars
Look / sound / feel 5 stars
Demand 4½ stars

Ping G

VERDICT Those turbulators on the crown do frame the ball nicely, but it’s the  unseen internal geometry that does the real work here. Inside the sole, weight pads cascade from back to front. This helps position weight farther back for more forgiveness and gets the sole more involved in the way the face gives at impact. That means more flexing for more distance.

COMMENTS (L) Hybrids are supposed to be your bailout club, and I feel like this one would bail me out every time. (M) Excellent launch. Very light feel led to a sense of a lot of clubhead speed. (H) Those shark fins just scream like you’re gonna crush it. Easy to get the ball in the air and hit it the way you want it.


M1 (2017) 

Performance 5 stars
Innovation 5 stars
Look / sound / feel 4½ stars
Demand 4 stars

TaylorMade M1 (2017)

VERDICT The 12-way adjustable hosel and movable weight in the sole are slick and effective. (Its 27-gram heft can go a long way to taming slices or hooks.) But this is more than the most adjustable hybrid on the market. By shifting the sliding weight track towards the back of the sole, there’s still room for a slot cut through the sole towards the front to expand the way the face flexes on off-centre hits.

COMMENTS (L) You could flight it like a driving iron, or hit it high. A pleasant, muted sound. (M) Easy to get the club through the turf and a nice middle trajectory. (H) Everyday golfers need to use the adjustability. There are many ways to make this one work for you.


M2 (2017) 

Performance 5 stars
Innovation 4 stars
Look / sound / feel 5 stars
Demand 5 stars

TaylorMade M2 (2017)

VERDICT The more forgiving of TaylorMade’s hybrids, the M2 features a confidence-inspiring low-face profile and a longer, more flexible slot cut through the sole (compared with last year’s model) to help improve the way the ball rebounds off the face. While cutting a slot through the sole increases distance, making the flexing of that structure sound and feel ideal is nearly as important. So engineers fine-tuned the fluted hosel to save weight and control vibration.

COMMENTS (L) Solid strikes without being clangy. A classic hybrid that instills confidence. (M) Simple to get up like a hot-air balloon, without sacrificing distance. (H) A real muscle club.



Performance 4 stars
Innovation 5 stars
Look / sound / feel 4½ stars
Demand 4 stars

Titleist 816H1/H2

VERDICT They get the big things right when it comes to distance, especially a thin, high-strength steel face and a flexing channel in the sole to provide ball speed and less spin. But the big things don’t matter unless you find the right hybrid for your swing. Titleist solves that riddle with two models featuring adjustable hosels. The larger H1 is for those who swing hybrids like fairway woods, and the H2 is for those who swing hybrids like irons.

COMMENTS (L) Great combination of a compact look with explosive feel. (M) Titleist offers more to mid-handicaps than it did in the past. Good forgiveness, easy to elevate. (H) That thumpy, swoosh sound is an awesome, powerful thing to hear.

Tour Edge 

Exotics EX10 

Performance 5 stars
Innovation 4 stars
Look / sound / feel 5 stars
Demand 2 stars

Tour Edge Exotics EX10

VERDICT Tour Edge’s Exotics line always has been about showcasing new materials, and this year’s hybrid finds a new high-strength steel used in hydroelectric power plants. The thin, resilient steel makes the EX10’s wrap-around cupface construction more flexible on off-centre hits. No less valuable is the ribboned sole structure, which helps the club glide through the turf.

COMMENTS (L) It sets up nice and square. I like that the mis-hits didn’t hook. (M) No resistance through the turf. Powerful, aggressive ball flight. (H) Looks like a better-players club until I hit it. The gliders look intriguing. I think I’d pure it from any possible lie.


Z H65 

Performance 4 stars
Innovation 3½ stars
Look / sound / feel 3 stars
Demand 2 stars

Srixon Z H65

VERDICT Hybrid technology is doing nothing if it’s not helping you launch the ball higher. The unique solution here isn’t just the lower weight on the sole, but a channel in the crown that gets progressively deeper as lofts increase. It helps on and off-centre hits launch higher with minimal spin. Furthermore, a spring-like high-strength steel face insert on these compact hybrids helps shots fly high.

COMMENTS (L) It feels soft, but there’s still a lot of mass behind the face. (M) Glides through the ground. The sole design is simple but effective. (H) The step down on top makes it look smaller, but it doesn’t play that way. Easy club to hit high and soft.