What Was the 'Mashie Iron' in Golf?

"Mashie iron" was the name of a golf club from the era in the game before irons were numbered in 8- or 9-club matched sets (3-iron, 4-iron, 5-iron, etc.). The mashie iron is usually thought of as the rough equivalent to the later 4-iron in terms of its loft and position in the golf bag relative to the other clubs golfers carried.

The mashie iron, in use from the late 1800s until modern, matched sets of irons began taking hold in the 1930s, had a wooden shaft and iron head. In terms of loft and distance, the mid iron was the preceding club, and the mashie followed the mashie iron. (Note that the mashie iron and the mashie were two different clubs.)

In a 1922 book titled Golf Clubs and How to Use Them (affiliate links used in this post), two-time major championship winner Ted Ray advised beginning golfers to leave the mashie iron out of their bags until becoming proficient with other clubs, calling the mashie iron one of "the in-between clubs" in golf. The mashie iron, he meant, fell between the mid iron and mashie in terms of loft and shaft length.

Three years earlier, in his book titled Picture Analysis of Golf Strokes: A Complete Book of Instruction, four-time major winner Jim Barnes wrote that his mashie iron was 38.5 inches in length, compared to 38 inches for his mid iron and 37.5 inches for his mashie. His mashie iron weighed 15.25 ounces, compared to 14.75 ounces for his mid iron and 14.25 ounces for his mashie. Unfortunately Barnes doesn't provide the loft angle of his mashie iron, but they were usually lofted somewhere in the neighborhood of 29 degrees.

Mashie irons were used for medium-long approaches into the green, and some golfers used them to play off the tee. In fact, the Historical Dictionary of Golfing Terms defines the mashie iron as a club "somewhat less lofted than a mashie, that was used for driving and for full shots through the green."

In Advanced Golf, James Braid described the mashie iron as "really a deep-faced mashie with less loft than an ordinary mashie — about the same as a mid iron."

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