Just in time for the British Masters, Mizuno has started the seeding process for its upcoming ST190 and ST190G drivers. Mizuno isn’t divulging any of the specifics – and we suspect that will be the case until sometime in January – but as always, there are some details that can be readily gleaned from the photos.
It’s a safe bet that the ST190 is the replacement for this season’s ST180. It offers the simpler technology story. It’s adjustable at the hosel only (likely still +/-2°). Other notable details include a WAVE Technology sole and an SP700 CORETECH face. Both of those fall into the realm of speed retaining technology. As you may recall, Mizuno says that by leveraging SP700 they can create more areas of variable thickness in the face, which ultimately translates to more consistent ball speed.
It appears that the ST190G is the replacement for the GT180. It features the latest revision of Mizuno’s FAST TRACK technology and brings with it some significant design changes. Gone is the slider that allowed for face angle adjustment. From a practical standpoint, it was only useful for golfers who sole the driver at address. Given its limited application and that engineers fight for every gram of discretionary weight, removing it likely makes more sense from a performance standpoint.
Also removed is the centrally-placed, 4-position FAST TRACK. It’s going to be interesting to see how this plays out from a performance perspective. Remember that every element of adjustability requires structure to support it, and that structure, in addition to eating mass, also tends to push weight higher in the head (raises CG) and often has sound implications. To offset the loss of the central track, Mizuno has extended the perimeter tracks to allow for three positions (the GT180 allowed for only two). That gets undesirable structure and weight out of the middle of the head, and should help create higher max MOI (compared to the GT180) without dramatically reducing the ability to push CG forward for those who want lower launch and spin.
It’s also worth noting that Mizuno has ditched the blue, opting for a more traditional black in both models.
Breaking the Tour Barrier
You may recall from our recent conversation with Chris Voshall that he and his team are confident that this will be the year that Mizuno metalwoods breakthrough and get some play on tour. According to Voshall, in recent testing with two tour players, the new models bested the TaylorMade and PING drivers that were in those players’ bags. If that happens, it would be a critical step towards Mizuno re-establishing itself as a serious player in the metalwoods market and regaining wider credibility with the consumer in the category.
The company is off to a good start, but the reality is that this is just the start of the new equipment season. A new crop of drivers will hit the market in a few months, and with that will come a fresh batch of tour stories for its competitors. Everyone will be looking to get new stuff in tour bags. Mizuno, no doubt, faces an uphill battle to get a driver in play on the PGA Tour, but with pay for play declining and Mizuno irons racking up tour wins, there’s a chance that 2019 could be the year a Mizuno driver gets TV time on a Sunday.