Cleveland Mashie Hybrid Review
(Written By: GolfSpy_T) It's been quite a while since we reviewed anything from Cleveland (or Srixon for that matter). As you may recall, we really liked the Srixon Z-TX driver, but were simply luke warm on last year's Launcher driver. For 2011 Cleveland has released what I think is very solid lineup. Their wedges will always do well with consumers, and their new one size (or weight as the case may be) does-not-fit-all approach to driver design has the potential to actually benefit real golfers of all ability levels. It's also has to be mentioned that the rebirth of Cleveland's Never Compromise lineup of putters has been nothing less than a complete transformation from simple, no-frills putters to a visually stunning lineup, that in our assessment, belongs in the types of conversations that include names like Cameron and Bettinardi.
Admittedly we've been a little light on hybrid reviews over the last couple of years, which is why we, for now anyway, have decided to look past the drivers and wedges, and take a closer look at the new Cleveland hybrids. I like that Cleveland was willing to take a chance on what I believe is the most practical paint scheme any manufacturer has implemented to date. As a bit of a shaft ho myself, I also couldn't help but be excited about the Miyazaki C. Kua shaft that comes stock in the the Mashie hybrid. Before we get to the review itself, let's quickly run down the stuff that Cleveland wants us to know about the Mashie.
The Marketing Angle
I touched briefly already on the paint (which Cleveland calls RETRO-RAW™), and I'll have more to say about it when we talk about the looks of the club, but I think functional is probably the right word. Other features include a dual-rail design with a subtle center keel, which is designed to improve versatility and help get you out of the deeper stuff. As I've already mentioned, the Mashie comes stock with ultralight (59 gram) Miyazaki C. Kua shaft (yes, it's a "real" C. Kua), which Cleveland claims can create 5-10 yards of additional distance through higher head speeds (up to 3 Mph). Heavier shafts are available through Cleveland's custom department. Though it's not really a feature, or even something that Cleveland is actively marketing, traditionalists will no doubt love the knit headcover which works really well with the old-school paint scheme.
Lefties hoping for 1-iron (fairway wood) or 5-iron replacements appear to be out of luck.
How We Tested
The 6 golfers for whom we collected detailed performance data were asked to hit a series of shots on our 3Track Equipped simulators from aboutGolf. As usual, testing was done at Tark's Indoor Golf, a state of the art indoor golf facility located in Saratoga Springs, NY. Detailed data for each and every shot for which we collected data is now viewable in the interactive portion of this review. This data serves as the foundation for our final performance score. As a supplement to our 6 performance testers, a subset of additional golfers were given the opportunity to test the Cleveland Mashie hybrids and provide feedback in our subjective categories (looks, feel, perceived distance, perceived accuracy, perceived forgiveness, and likelihood of purchase). This information, which we also collected from our performance testers, is used as the foundation for our total subjective score. Although several rounds were played with19°, 21°, and 24° degree hybrids in our testers bags, formal testing for the purpose of data collection was done with the 21° hybrid in the tester's choice of regular or stiff flex.
If distance is the determining factor in your purchase decision, you certainly shouldn't be ruling out the Cleveland Mashie hybrid. 5 of our 6 performance testers put up scores in the 90s (the 6th was in the mid 80s). Our testers as group averaged just over 211 yards with the Mashie hybrid. As he always is, Dan was on the long end with an average total distance of 251 yards. Blake, who generally hits a 3 hybrid around 200 yards, struggled mightily with the Mashie averaging just under 170 yards. The other guys averaged a combined average of just under 210 yards, which, while not quite as long as the Titleist 910h, is still very, very solid.
MGS Distance Score: 93.96
As you'll see in the subjective section, our testers don't believe the Mashie Hybrid is as accurate as some other hybrids they've tried (including the ones in their bags). Our numbers largely support those opinions as our testers missed the center line by an adjusted average of over 18.5 yards. To put that in its proper context, it's very similar to the group average miss for the drivers we tested this season. During our tests I proved to be the most accurate with the Mashie; missing by an adjusted average of just under 12 yards. Our lowest handicap testers (Nick and Dan) actually posted the lowest accuracy scores. Both mentioned the offset, but whatever the reason, neither those two guys, nor Blake and Mark found the Mashie particularly accurate.
When you view the interactive shot by shot charts, you'll notice that the majority of misses were to the left, but more telling still is the relatively high number of shots that missed the center line by more than 30 yards. For a club that often is use to hit a green from long distances, the raw averages are somewhat discouraging.
When we convert those averages to out of 100 scores we get two scores in the high 80s, two in the low 80s, and 2 in the mid 70s. The total adds up to a number that is mediocre at best.
MGS Accuracy Score: 82.40
Things look a bit better when we plugged the data into our consistency formula. Though we've seen scores in the high 90s, scores in the low 90s are still pretty good, and that's largely what we found with the Mashie hybrid. While my number with the Mashie hybrid was the highest I've posted with any club to date (97+), the majority of the scores were in the low 90s, with Tim posting the lowest consistency score with an 82.6. Overall, however; the numbers suggest that while not the most consistent we've tested to date, the Mashie produces relatively consistent results from swing to swing.
MGS Consistency Score: 91.74
If there's a black-eye for this gray club it's the accuracy. As we noted, nearly all of our testers quite simply struggled to hit the ball straight - and the Mashie produced some of the biggest misses we've seen to date with any club we've tested (including drivers). Accuracy aside, however, the distance numbers were good (we think it goes as far as it needs to), and though not exceptional, the consistency scores were relatively solid. If, unlike our testers, you're able to consistently hit the Mashie hybrid straight, everything else we saw suggests the club will be a strong performer for you.
MGS OVERALL PERFORMANCE SCORE: 87.96
Let's face it, Cleveland, despite years of producing clubs good enough to fill every slot in the bag, is still known largely as a wedge company. Dollars to doughnuts, you give me any Cleveland wedge to put through our testing process and the subjective numbers are going to be high. Give me anything else the company makes, and it's basically a roll of the dice.
In a perfect world all preconceived notions for every club and every manufacturer would get checked at the door , but the reality is that a company like Cleveland isn't going to get what amount to little more than points for just showing up like a TaylorMade or Titleist would. Is it completely fair? Probably not. But, on those occasions when a smaller company can post a subjective score that rivals the true titans of the industry, we know we've really got something golfers are going to love. This, unfortunately, is most definitely not one of those occasions.
Visually, there are two things that our testers repeatedly commented on. The first was the offset of the Mashie Hybrid's head. Offset is always a point of curiosity for me, as so often our testers tell us how much they disapprove of it. It doesn't matter if it's a driver, fairway wood, or another hybrid; if it's offset, our testers don't like it. Of course, a fair amount of the time, our testers are complaining about offset at the same time they're spinning the balls off to the right. In the case of the Mashie hybrid, however; it would appear the displeasure may be justified, as the majority of the big misses went left.
The second point of conversation was the RETRO-RAW™ finish. Cleveland calls it a throw-back, most everyone else calls it gray. While some said they liked it, not everyone was a huge fan. The gray paint, I believe, was probably the reason for a couple of very low scores (a 3 and a 5). Though I can't say I love it, pragmatically, I couldn't give it less than an 8.
If last year was the year of the wedge, 2011 simply has to be the year of paint. While some think white looks great, as our friends at Callaway showed us, it can lead to some pronounced shadowing on the clubhead. Black, of course, has worked for decades, but our friends at TaylorMade helped us all to learn how distracting the glare from a black head can be. Gray solves both those problems. No glare, no shadows, no distractions. Yeah, it doesn't look as sleek as a black, and it won't grab attention like white, but if the purpose is to eliminate distractions, then the paint on the Cleveland Mashie is perfect. Just my personal opinion here, but if another company had done the same thing, almost everyone would be talking about how awesome the new gray clubs are.
When we tallied the scores, the 7s, 8s, and single 9 weren't enough to offset the lower than average ratings, which accounts for what is a relatively low total looks score.
MGS Looks Score: 75.25
Apart from performance, feel is the single biggest influencer of what finds its way into my bag. So even if I'm not a huge fan of the looks I'll bag a club if it performs well, and feels great. I was optimistic the Mashie might do just that. While most of our testers agreed that the Mashie feels very good to excellent on near-perfectly struck balls, when you stray a bit from the center of the face, things change dramatically. On most anything other than their very best shots, our testers were less than enthused about the feel produced by the Mashie hybrid. Dull and dead were the words we heard most often to describe what accounted for the majority of the shots our testers hit. While 3 testers rated the club an 8, many went lower (as low as 4) in their assessment. In my estimation it's a relatively fine line between providing feedback and simply not producing good feel. The consensus among our testers was that the Mashie hybrid strays to the latter.
MGS Feel Score: 67.19
Almost to a man, our testers used one word to describe the distance of the Cleveland Mashie Hybrid: Average. We heard it again, and again, and again. While a single testers rated the club a 9 and described it as among the longest he's ever hit, almost everyone else rated the club a 7 or an 8. There was a 3 on the low end from a tester who struggled to reach a distance anything close to where he normally hits a 21° degree club, but overall average ruled the day. Our numbers suggest it deserves better, but testers think what testers think, which is in part why you should never by a club before you know exactly how far it really goes.
Tester Perceived Distance Score: 83.31
Maybe you can blame the offset (I don't). Maybe it's the ultralight shaft (a stretch). Whatever the reason, our testers as a group showed a tremendous bias towards the left side of the fairway. A few of our testers mentioned that no matter how much they tried to adjust, they simply couldn't keep the club from going left. Even the guys who consistently miss to the right, were consistently left with the Mashie Hybrid. Save a few shots down the middle, our testers simply didn't feel the accuracy is what is should be.
Tester Perceived Accuracy Score: 61.89
In what is admittedly a bit of anomaly in our scoring, our testers told us they thought the Cleveland Mashie was more forgiving than it was accurate. That tells me that they think it performs reasonably well when the ball isn't struck perfectly. That said, the scores (which ranged from 4 to 8) are far from the levels we've seen with other clubs, and certainly don't indicate that any of our testers believe the Mashie Hybrid to be an incredibly forgiving golf club.
Our admittedly limited hybrid tests have so far suggested that golfers believe that hybrids in general are the least forgiving clubs in the bag. While the total score isn't impressive in the big picture, it has to be pointed out that it's only marginally worse than the Titleist 910h we reviewed last month.
Tester Perceived Forgiveness Score: 72.56
Likelihood of Purchase
Not a single tester fell in love with the Mashie Hybrid to the extent that they actually put one in their bag. One tester who rated it an 8 in this category told us he'd bag it "if it were a gift", but otherwise he'd "put it right back in the rack". That seems to sum up the thinking of our testing pool as a whole as the majority rated the likelihood that they would actually purchase a Mashie hybrid in the 5 to 6 range, which, needless to say, is below average for the clubs we've tested this season.
Tester Likelihood of Purchase: 61.81
If you're still reading at this point, you can probably guess where this is going. With that in mind, I'm not going to waste your time by trying to sugar coat anything. For nothing other than perceived distance did the Cleveland Mashie hybrid obtain a B-level score with our testers. For everything else we survey the scored ranged from a low D to a mid C. None of this proves that Cleveland's Mashie hybrid is a bad club, but it makes it plenty clear to us that, across the board, our pool of testers simply didn't like it.
TOTAL SUBJECTIVE SCORE: 71.49
It's always tough as reviewer and tester when a review shakes out the way this one did. The results of our tests indicate that the Cleveland Mashie performed fairly well for our testers. We certainly can't find fault in the distance numbers, although, as we noted, the accuracy scores need to be higher for it to be considered as one of the select few truly great clubs we see over the course of a golf season.
The thing is, performance aside, nothing about the Cleveland Mashie really resonated with out testers either. You could argue that the Miyazaki C. Kua is one of the top shafts available as a stock option for any hybrid today- and you'd probably be right, but it didn't make enough of a difference as far as our testers are concerned. You could argue that the RETRO-RAW™ finish is the most practical on the market today. I'd probably agree with you, but it's not pretty, and seems our testers don't want to be stuck between black and white.
In the end, solid distance numbers can't overcome suspect accuracy, what our testers tell us is sub-par feel, and an almost total lack of enthusiasm for the club. None of our testers would tell you they love the Cleveland Mashie, and most would tell you they don't hate it. The reality is that nearly everyone who tested the Cleveland Mashie hybrid, myself included, came away feeling completely indifferent about it, and that's clearly reflected in the overall score.
MGS TOTAL SCORE: 86.31
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