If you’ve been following the THP forums since the end of the THP Outing and Demo Days at PGA National Resort and Spa, you may have read a certain old-world club name repeated over and over: Mashie. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen so many people excited about a single club since I began reading reviews at THP. The amount of hype surrounding Cleveland’s 2011 hybrid has been astounding and almost overwhelming. I was given the opportunity to review this enigmatic club and have been able to spend quite a bit of quality time with it. I really wondered if the Mashie could ever live up to the hype that had foreshadowed it. Have a read to see the results.
From the Company
With its Gliderail™ sole, Retro-Raw™ finish, and Ultralite Technology, the Mashie represents the best of what utility clubs bring to the table: versatility and function. It’s also 30 grams lighter than most traditional utilities, meaning it provides faster head speed for more ball speed and greater carry.
Gliderail™ – The original dual-rail design has been re-engineered and enhanced to reduce drag and increase stability through the turf. The result is the most versatile utility we have offered.
Retro-Raw™ – The Retro-Raw™ finish is designed to provide a rugged, bulletproof look that encourages the versatile, go-anywhere playing style for which the Mashie is designed.
Ultralite Technology – The lighter Miyazaki C. Kua 59 series premium hybrid shaft dramatically reduces total club weight while preserving stiffness and stability, resulting in faster headspeed and longer carry.
The Mashie is available in five different lofts: 15.5°, 18°, 20.5°, 23°, and 26°. The shaft comes with a Lamkin 36g Superlite™ grip.
While the Mashie has many of the characteristics that we’ve come to expect from a hybrid, it is unique in many ways. The first thing that I noticed is the slate gray coloring, which Cleveland has named Retro-Raw™, on top of the club head. While the head shape is traditional from the top, this finish adds a little retro flair to the overall look of the club. Not to be outdone, the sole can best be described as stunning. The chrome finish is accented with white and black lettering and there are two visible rails that are both functional and eye-pleasing. I find the face to be more “iron-like” in shape and it has some white-filled grooves to help in the deep stuff. The shaft is a deep black color that adds a little edge to the club and the artwork from C. Kua compounds that feeling. In summary, the looks of the Mashie can best be described as a marriage of pure retro lines with a modern twist.
Another item that has to be addressed is the sock-style headcover that comes with the Mashie. I’ve found that people seem to either love it or hate it. At first, I wasn’t a big fan, but in person it is pretty nice to look at. There is a really cool badge on it that I like and the black, white, and gray colors are personal favorites of mine. The material it is made or seems to be at least partially made of a synthetic material and it fits the club very well. My only concern is that sock headcovers are often less durable than their modern counterparts. I can’t really comment on the long term durability of the Mashie headcover at this point. I saw no premature wear, but it really hasn’t been in my bag for enough time to come to any conclusions. When it comes down to it, I’m a little torn on this issue. Cleveland makes some really nice looking regular headcovers and I wouldn’t mind having one come with the Mashie, but the sock really fits in with the whole theme of the club.
When I picked up the Mashie, the first thought that came to mind was, “Wow, this is heavy!” It turns out that the Mashie is actually lighter than my current hybrid, but the light shaft gives it a slightly higher swing weight. This gives the feeling of a heavier club, which I liked quite a bit. As discussed earlier, I was very impressed by the looks of the club. The sole is really eye-catching and the black C. Kua shaft is a great compliment to the retro finish on the head. While many stock grips can leave much to be desired, I found the Mashie’s grip to be pretty good and it’s light weight fits in with the whole theme of the club.
At the range
My first session was devoted to becoming familiar with the Mashie and putting it in a head-to-head battle with the hybrid already in my bag. I wanted to see how it stacked up to the competition when it came to how easy it was to hit, ball flight, feel, distance, and accuracy.
I found that the Mashie was a pleasure to swing and very easy to make solid contact with. The ball flight it produced was high, but piercing. The ball jumped off of the club head while steadily rising and then fell softly to the ground. As a low ball hitter, I really appreciated the high trajectory. It not only increased my distance, it also aided in stopping the ball quickly. Feel is always such a subjective quality, but I really enjoyed what the Mashie had to offer. Well struck shots seemed to explode off of the face with a noticeably deeper sound than I was accustomed to. Poor shots were not rewarded with that pleasing tone, which gave me even more incentive to put a good swing on the ball. One negative that I noticed was that poorly struck shots were a bit harsh on my fingers, but please keep in mind that I was using range balls in 50° temperatures. Fall weather tends to punish my hands much more than regular season anyway, but adding rock-hard range balls to the equation certainly can amplify that feeling.
I did see some modest distance increases with the Mashie. Again, taking into consideration that it was pretty chilly, I was seeing about 5-10 yards more distance than my current hybrid with well struck shots. I hit a few balls off of a tee, since that is a situation I often use my hybrid for, and was amazed at the distances I was getting. The first one I hit off the tee had me standing there posed and grinning like I was a much better golfer than I really am. Regarding accuracy, my shot dispersion was tighter with the Mashie on well struck shots. I picked a flag in my hybrid distance range to use as an aiming point and I found it much easier to place the ball close than with my other hybrid. I think this could be especially useful when I’m faced with long approach shots or punishing par three’s.
An interesting observation that I came away with was my miss with the Mashie was completely different than the one I experience with my other hybrid. With my other hybrid, I am prone to push the ball right with some fade spin on miss hits. With the Mashie, my miss was to the left, but only when I really was pushing myself to swing hard. I had to remind myself that I was swinging a lighter club, so there was no need to muscle the ball out there. I found that the C. Kua shaft reacted much better to a smooth tempo and it seemed to be easier to close the club face.
On the course
Range testing is great, but the true measure of a hybrid, especially one that bills itself as “The Return of the Utility”, is its performance and versatility on the course. I expect a hybrid to be equally good off of the fairway, out of the rough, on the tee box, and for low-running punch shots out of trouble spots. That is a lot to ask for out of one club, but I can be a demanding golfer at times. For my on-course testing, I played two courses where I frequently am in need of a hybrid. Luck would have it that I was able to use the Mashie numerous times over four rounds of golf.
Many people have preferences in hybrids when it comes to how they set up. Some like a club that looks more like a fairway wood and others want something resembling an iron at set-up. I found the Mashie to be more on the iron side of the spectrum. While the head is rounded at the back, the face definitely looks more iron-like in appearance. From fairway lies, I found the best results came from swinging it like I would an iron with comparable loft. If I took a small divot ahead of the ball I was rewarded with a high and straight shot that landed softly. One thing that I really appreciated was that the Mashie was very forgiving on thin shots, which is a common miss for me. While the ball wouldn’t get as high in the air as a well-hit shot, it would roll forever and give me very similar distance. Again, over-swinging the club brought poor results that I paid for. After my first round, this really began to sink in, and I was much more comfortable with it. As always, technique triumphs over everything. The Mashie can produce a bad shot just like any other club. However, it is very rewarding when swung well.
Since the course I was at was mostly deserted, I was able to hit multiple balls with the Mashie and my other hybrid from the tee on some longer par 3 holes. Due to the colder temps, I probably should have used more club on a couple of them, but I really wanted to see what the Mashie had to offer. On average, I saw around 5 yards more distance than my other hybrid, but more importantly, my shots were landing in a much tighter circle with the Mashie. Maybe it was the shaft, maybe it was the head, and maybe it was a combination of both. Whatever it was, I liked it.
As for trouble shots, the Mashie received a workout that only a player like me could give. I seemed to regularly find the deepest rough and most buried lies that the course could give me. I was pleased to see that the Mashie performed as advertised in the worst of situations. I found that the Gliderail™ really cut through the deep stuff well. A perfect example was a completely buried ball that I hit for my approach shot into the green on a par 4. Normally, I’m just hoping to hit the ball farther than thirty yards in these types of situations, so I was thrilled to see the ball blast out of the grass and stop about 5 yards short of the green. No, I didn’t get a GIR, but instead of taking my third shot from over 100 yards, I was looking at the very real possibility of an easy up-and-down. This situation was repeated over and over during my testing. That probably doesn’t say much for my driver game, but we’ve all had those days. One of my playing partners also stomped a couple balls into the rough to see if the Mashie could extract them. As a more experienced golfer, his results were even better. Good enough that he may be a hybrid convert soon! I also found myself in the trees a few times and in need of a shot that stayed low and was able to thread its way through a wooded obstacle course. I took these punch shots from leaves, hard-pan, and pine straw with great results. One final test I put the Mashie through was the often-difficult fairway bunker shot. I didn’t hit the ball perfectly clean, but the club seemed to glide right through the sand and I still got decent distance out of the shot. I wonder what could have been if I’d put a better swing on it.
I couldn’t help but devote an entire section of this review to the shaft that is in the Mashie. I will only talk about it briefly, but I think that the Miyazaki C. Kua hybrid shaft could easily be the subject of its own review. Cleveland has partnered with Miyazaki to offer this shaft as the standard offering in the Mashie. The standard weight is 59 grams and comes in flexes A through X. This partnership comes with some great benefits for the consumer. With Miyazaki’s International Flex Code, golfers can find a shaft that helps maximize the results they want out of their club. Also, the need to spend more money for a shaft upgrade goes right out the window. Never before has the consumer had such easy and affordable access to a Tour level shaft in a hybrid. I have to compliment (and thank) Cleveland and Miyazaki for coming together on their 2011 offerings. Kudos!
The C. Kua in the Mashie I tested is approximately 10 grams lighter than the shaft in my current hybrid. We all know that lighter can equal faster, which can equal more distance. Some say that the distance increases from lighter shafts come at the cost of accuracy. In my testing, I found that to be very far from reality. I not only saw small distance gains, I also found my accuracy with the Mashie to be better than what I was used to. Both distance gains and increased accuracy are huge to my fledgling golf game.
As I said earlier, coming into this review, I wasn’t sure what to expect out of the Mashie. Sure, many of my friends were singing its praises, but I hadn’t had the course time to really get a solid opinion on it. After spending plenty of quality time with it, my opinion is that Cleveland Golf really hit a hole-in-one with the Mashie. When I stripped away all the hype, the cool name, and the different design, I was left with a great hybrid. The Mashie truly epitomized the concept of a utility club. Now, how can I get one of these in my bag?