When OEMs release a pro version of an iron, it’s typically accompanied by a price hike, some aesthetic enhancements (chrome plating) and a well-spun story justifying the price increase.
That’s not exactly the case with Mizuno’s Hot Metal Pro, though it could leave better players wondering how much is too much given Hot Metal Pro’s relatively compact frame.
Those who keep track of typical release cycles know Mizuno generally unveils product in the fall. As per usual in late August 2018, Mizuno launched the JPX 919 family, which included the 919 Tour, 919 Forged and 919 Hot Metal.
Bucking Mizuno’s trend, the JPX 919 Hot Metal Pro is a mid-cycle addition which amounts to little more than a spec change to the standard 919 Hot Metal, which is why Mizuno hasn’t made any significant amount of noise over the release. The Hot Metal Pro carries the same Chromoly 4041 cast frame, which is stronger and more responsive than 1025 mild carbon steel, Stability Frame construction (for class-leading forgiveness) and re-engineered sound ribs to enhance feel. True to its name, the Hot Metal Pro has all the requisite design, material, and mass property requirements to fit the description of a max-distance iron.
The rest is what one should expect from an iron with the Pro designation. Thinner sole, narrower topline, less offset and a more compact footprint are what separates the Hot Metal Pro from the standard version.
Comparatively, the Hot Metal Pro has a wider sole and thicker topline than the 919 Forged, albeit with less offset. The sweet area of the Hot Metal Pro and 919 Forged are nearly identical, but the Pro has a deeper CG and marginally stronger lofts. This is, after all, a players distance iron.
Regarding COR area (the portion of clubface with a COR of .80 or higher), Mizuno contends the Hot Metal Pro has entered uncharted territory. Citing internal tests, the Hot Metal Pro retains more ball speed on toe-side shots than the standard model; however, the converse is true on heel shots, where the standard model should lose a bit less ball speed. Mizuno’s testing indicates both models have a COR area which surpasses that of competitors such as TaylorMade M3, Ping G400, and Callaway Rogue Pro.
How it fairs against the 2019 crop is TBD.
Also included in this release is a JPX FLI-HI, which features the geometry and mass properties of a hybrid with the hosel blend and topline of a long iron. The chief purpose of the JPX FLI-HI is to give players the option of a blended set, without having to pay an upcharge for it. Often the addition of a hybrid as a DLR (direct long-iron replacement) comes with an increased cost. So rather than put golfers in a financial quandary, Mizuno opted to keep the FLI-HI pricing ($125/club) consistent with either Hot Metal model.
When should a player think about dropping the Hot Metal (or Hot Metal Pro) in favor of the JPX FLI-HI? When the native swing speed isn’t fast enough to generate launch conditions which maintain ideal distance gaps between irons. To this end, the JPX FLI-HI features a lower center of gravity (resulting in higher launch), stronger lofts (1° less than the iron each model replaces) and longer shafts (¼” longer in 6 iron and ¾” longer in the 4 iron) to help golfers attain proper gapping. Also, the JPX FLI-HI utilizes Wave Sole Technology which allows the front of the sole to flex more to retain ball speed on thin shots.
The patented Drop Down Crown might be what golfers first notice, but as is typical with Mizuno design, there’s a reasonably obvious purpose (alignment aid and CG manipulation) as well as one which isn’t so evident – that it fits comfortably in a Mitchell Loft/Lie bending machine so builders can precisely match specs to the rest of the set.
The JPX FLI HI is offered 4-iron through 7-iron to allow golfers multiple transition points, which are best identified via a professional fitting. Mizuno also has a pre-selected combo set with JPX FLI-HI 5-6 irons and 7-PW in Hot Metal Pro.
JPX 919 Hot Metal Pro Specs, Pricing, and Availability
The JPX 900 Hot Metal was Mizuno’s best-selling game-improvement iron ever and to date the 919 Hot Metal line owns a 4% market share in the iron category. If we separate the iron market into two basic categories – players irons and game-improvement irons – players irons account for roughly 10% of the overall retail market. To create some perspective, Mizuno would need a 40% share in the players category to have an equivalent presence.
Mizuno understands Hot Metal Pro is likely to cannibalize sales of the 919 Forged and standard Hot Metal to a degree, but the hope is to garner a bit more real estate in the largest part of the market with the greatest potential for growth.
If so, it would be a cast, not forged, iron from Mizuno leading the way.
What do you think about that?
Retail price for an 8-piece set is $1000. Available now.