Hickory Corner: The mashie is the go-to club for hickory players

Updated: March 31, 2015

by Brian Giboney
Welcome back to The Hickory Corner where we explore hickory golf (golf with pre-1935 equipment).

This month we are going to talk specific swing techniques and how playing hickory can help your
modern game. In particular, ball striking with your irons. For this task I consulted with Chris Getz,
a PGA Professional at Glendale Country Club in Bellevue, WA. Chris is a former U.W. Husky golfer who was mentored by PNWPGA Hall of Famer Al Mundle.

Let’s talk hickory equipment for a moment. The go-to iron for many of hickory player is the mashie.
Mashies are frequently stamped “5”, but loft wise more closely resemble a modern day 7-iron at 34-36
degrees depending on the manufacturer. Many hickory play sets feature only a brassie (driver), a spoon (5 wood), a mid-iron (4/5 iron), a mashie (7 iron), a niblick (PW), and a putter – so the mashie sees a lot of action in each round of hickory golf, which challenges your ball striking skills throughout the day.

Here is a little Q&A with Chris to help your ball striking and help for a smoother transition from modern irons to hickory irons:

Q: What are the key differences between the mashie and the 7-iron golfers should consider?

Chris: The main difference between the mashie and today’s 7-iron is the forgiveness of today’s
technology. The mashie has a very small sole radius with very little bounce. This gives the mashie a
tendency to dig into the ground which is much less forgiving than today’s equipment. The hickory
mashie also has much more torque or the ability to twist at impact which can cause more curvature on
the golf ball than today’s equipment. The face thickness, perimeter weighting, grooves, along with a
few other differences make today’s equipment much easier to hit, but not necessarily more fun!

Next to the 100-year-old mashie, a modern 7-iron looks like it was made by NASA for space travel.

Q: Given those differences, what are the main fundamentals you would teach to promote solid contact with the mashie?

Chris: My advice for hitting a mashie would be to sweep the ball off the turf vs. a bit more vertical
angle of approach. Since the mashie has very little bounce, having a shallower angle of attack will give you a better chance at solid contact. The second thing I would recommend is a smoother and slower tempo. Since the hickory shaft has much higher torque or propensity to twist at impact a slower smoother tempo is definitely a key to hitting a mashie straighter and with more consistency.

Q: Your thoughts on using a mashie as a training aid to practice and improve iron play?

Chris: I think a mashie is great for working on good tempo and centeredness of contact. Since the mashie is obviously far less forgiving it can give you great feedback if your hitting the center of the club vs. today’s technology that might give you a little less feedback on off center hits. Also, as I
mentioned above, the amount of torque a hickory shaft produces is very high and requires a smooth tempo which, I think we can all agree, is important for a repeatable golf swing.

Q: Finally, any other tips for golfers looking to hitting their irons (hickory or modern) more solid?

Chris: I believe whatever you may be doing, practicing good solid fundamentals and devoting a fair amount of time will help you become a better golfer no matter if your using a mashie or a modern 7 iron. Get out and play and practice as much as you can and good things will come.

So there you have it – The hickory mashie and the modern day 7-iron. Technology certainly has changed the game of golf, but the basic fundamentals of hitting a ball with a stick in the fewest amount of strokes possible are the same. Playing hickory golf will help you reduce strokes in your modern game.