It is with real pleasure that I take up the mashie shot, because the mashie is my favorite club, if favorite there can be, as I have devoted more time and study to the shot than all others. It is a club which has vast possibilities, and is called upon to play a greater range of shots than all the other clubs combined. At the same time it is understood by comparatively few players, and even among the professionals I have heard some mighty funny theories advanced as to the way it should be played.
From what I have observed, the majority of professionals play the club correctly from practice and in spite of their theories.
To look at the club and note the angle or loft to the face of it, the theory of the correct method of playing it may seem simple, but it is not a simple club to play according to the theory.
The fact that almost every player you see addresses his ball with the club shaft at right angles to the desired line of flight shows that his mental picture of the stroke must be that also, or he would not so address the ball.
The idea is that the ball takes the angle of the face of the club, as I show by dotted line called the angle of rise. Players have informed me that they can play off a board floor that way, and it must be correct. It is correct for a board floor, because the club can-not go too low and is bound to slide along the floor, but for soft turf and grass, it is not the easiest way.
The latitude for error is too small and the amount of latitude is shown by the small arrow marked a. In proportion to the width of the club face; this is a very small margin, something like a quarter of an inch of space, into which the wedge formed by the bottom of the club must be driven to hit the ball accurately, to avoid topping and cutting it, on the one hand, and to avoid driving the wedge at the bottom of the club into the ground, on the other.
The bottom edge of a mashie is very sharp, and it is expensive, to say the least, to top the ball or even half top it. You can readily see what the effect would be to strike the ball in the middle with this club. Besides this, to drive that sharp wedge into the soft turf is wasting the force of the blow upon the ground and not the ball. This very fact is one which is productive of one of the most useful shots with the mashie, as I shall explain in another place, but the shot is not played with any idea of the club moving in the arc shown by the dotted line marked c.