Written By: Jay Baker
Recently I had the opportunity to test out Mizuno’s new offerings at their 2nd Annual JPX Invitational. Luckily, this was not your typical demo day. Mizuno allowed me to do an on course review in addition to the time spent on the range with Trackman. The ability to use the clubs on course allowed me to really check the tech in real golf scenarios.
Here is what I found:
The Company Line: The JPX-850 irons are geared towards handicaps 10 to 25. They are designed with a Power Frame technology that allows for increased forgiveness and distance. The Dual Relief Zone Sole allows for better turf interaction.
The Good: While the Power Frame and Dual Relief Zone Sole provide a good story, it overlooks the great shape and design of the iron. The JPX-850 comes in a very eye-pleasing package for a Super Game Improvement iron. The offset isn’t too noticeable and the lines are soft and rounded. There’s plenty of performance without inconsistent distance gaps. Think updated modern version of the Ping Eye 2.
The Bad: Obviously, being cast, they lack the famous Mizuno feel. The lengths and lies are below what I would call industry standard for Super Game Improvement irons these days. That’s not good or bad really; just make sure you get properly fit.
The Bottom Line: What we have here is another solid offering from Mizuno. It may not blow your socks off but you can’t go wrong either. I highly suggest this iron for someone who doesn’t mind a cast feel, needs forgiveness, trying to hit a mid/high ball flight, and is a digger or driver of the golf ball.
The Company Line: Boron is added to the steel alloy to produce a material that is 30% stronger than 1025E. This added strength allows for a power frame and thinner face for higher ball speeds. Geared toward golfers with a 6 to 16 handicap.
The Good: These have such a clean look. The chrome/silver badge as well as the satin finish exudes sex appeal. Even better, the irons actually perform. The best thing about the Boron is that it doesn’t feel that different. That’s a good thing coming from a company that already makes some of the best feeling irons on the market. Some people will hear “stronger” and think “harder” or “clicky” in terms of feel, but that doesn’t apply to these irons.
The Bad: When compared to other “player” game improvement irons, these look a little big. They do appear to be the same size as the model they replaced. The short ferrules make the iron look cheap; make sure you opt for the longer MP ferrules. They say that the lofts haven’t been “cranked” but with a PW at 45* let’s agree to disagree.
The Bottom Line: These are going to have a hard time competing in the marketplace against the AP2s and Apex Pros of the world but I do think Mizuno is on to something. Companies are going to have to start looking more at exotic metals if they are going to push the boundaries of club technology. The sole design has a blunted crescent leading edge as well as trail relief, perfect for a digger/driver of the golf ball. These will produce a mid ball flight, maybe even lower than mid depending on the shaft.
The Company Line: The “Hollow Construction” is utilized progressively through the set to optimize ball flight. Heads #1 through #6 iron have a full-hollow design, while heads #7 through PW have a half-hollow design and compact shaping. The hollow construction allows for increased distance and forgiveness in a forged package. Designed for handicaps between 0 and 16.
The Good: These long irons make a great replacement for golfers who prefer irons to hybrids. The soft forged steel makes adjustments easier than most game improvement clubs. KBS C Taper Lite shafts are a solid stock offering.
The Bad: The topline is the thickest MP topline I’ve seen to date and so is the sole. Short irons leave a little to be desired as I’m not sure why you even need a hollow cavity on a #9 iron or Pitching wedge. The feel isn’t quite the same as the rest of the MP line. Other comparable sets in the price range utilize tungsten to increase forgiveness, but not here.
The Bottom Line: While in theory, a set of Fli-Hi irons sounds like a good idea, it’s not so much once you get to the short irons. Most players are going to opt for these in the long irons while using the MP-15/MP-64/MP-4 irons in the scoring clubs. The H5 is suited for a low-ball picker/sweeper who wants forged feel, smallish size, and a higher ball flight.
The Company Line: Like the previous MP-59, this iron utilizes a Ti Muscle that replaces 38 grams of steel with 10 grams of titanium. The difference of 28 grams is redistributed around the club head to increase forgiveness without sacrificing thickness behind the hitting area.
The Good: If there is such a thing as a forgiving blade design, these irons come the closest. Obviously they have somewhat of a cavity but they have very little offset, small compact head, and nice rounded edges. The MP-15 seems to be geared more toward the AP2 crowd this year rather than the blade crowd, which is good in my opinion. The head is slightly beefier than the MP-59 and players should see some increased forgiveness because of this design.
The Bad: The Ti Muscle still has a little more click than the traditional MP-64 or MP-4. The chrome doesn’t match the tech story and I feel like this model is the best MP iron to manufacture with a satin finish. TT DG S300 is a tried and true shaft but similar irons in the marketplace offer a more exotic stock shaft. A 2 iron isn’t offered in this model, yet it could be a unicorn for many players who use blades.
The Bottom Line: Mizuno has had great success with their Ti Muscle in the past and I don’t see anything different here. This is a great offering for the player who prefers a blade but doesn’t play enough and needs a little forgiveness. The ball flight is mid/low and the grind is better suited for a driver/slider swing.
Which Mizuno Iron is Right For You?
Still not sure which Mizuno iron is right for you? Mizuno’s Iron Advisor can help you find your perfect iron.
The Company Line: Forged from 1025E, these wedges produce a soft feel when compared to cast models offered by other companies. Quad cut grooves provide maximum spin allowed. 25 bounce/loft options and 2 finishes give the consumer plenty of choices.
The Good: Wedges with the soft Mizuno forged feel? Yes please! The finishes appear to be very durable. Head shape is a good blend of round and teardrop. Loft and bounce options are plentiful.
The Bad: While some may like the odd number configurations, it’s going to confuse a lot of golfers who prefer to stick with traditional even number lofts. Mizuno could do a better job of describing the different type of available grinds and whom they benefit. Lots of options, just not enough explanations because there is more to a wedge than just bounce.
The Bottom Line: I don’t think these wedges are going to get golfers to drop their Vokeys but if you are in the market for a similar wedge in a forged offering, this is your ticket. Traversing the bounces/grinds might be difficult but there are plenty of options and Mizuno should have a wedge to fit your game.
The Company Line: Low CoG provides creates an easy launching hybrid. The Shock Wave Sole flexes to increase ball speed as well as providing extra forgiveness on shots struck low on the face.
The Good: Mizuno has a good balance to this hybrid. It doesn’t launch or spin too high but yet it’s still very easy to hit. It reminds me of some of the more popular Adams hybrids over the years in terms of feel and performance. The stock Motore shaft is a great compliment. This is definitely the sleeper in Mizuno’s JPX-850 lineup.
The Bad: No adjustability. The lengths are slightly longer than expected, especially for Mizuno. The crown graphics are still going to put off some of the traditionalists.
JPX-850 Hybrid Specifications
JPX-850 Fairway Woods
The Company Line: As with the hybrid, this fairway wood has a Low CoG and Shock Wave Sole to optimize launch and increase ball speeds. The Quick Switch adjustable hosel allows for fine-tuning.
The Good: Adjustability up to four different settings is a good start. The fairways remain easy to hit without sacrificing that player’s look or feel. These aren’t going to leap frog anybody but Mizuno has definitely caught up with the competition. The stock Motore is a quality shaft.
The Bad: Having interchangeable swing-weight capabilities would be nice addition to the adjustability. Increased lengths and crown graphics could be an issue for some.
JPX-850 FW Specifications
The Company Line: The updated Fast Track system provides 10 unique flight settings (4 Neutral, 3 Draw, 3 Fade) that allow the golfer to dial in the launch and spin to increase distance with two 8-gram weights. The Quick Switch adjustable hosel provides 8 different settings from 7.5 to 11.5 degrees. An updated rounded crown provides more flex and higher energy transfer. This entire tech is packaged in a shapely 440cc design.
The Good: With this level of adjustability, the vast majority of golfers should be able to dial this driver in to the appropriate settings. It feels hot without sounding like a tin can or sacrificing forgiveness. Several weights can be added to increase swing weight or vice versa. The driver is actually conforming without any weights. As far as the shaft, the Motore Speeder VC 6.3 should be a hit with the target market. The blue color will help distinguish this driver among the crowd.
The Bad: If you sole the driver to establish loft, the Quick Switch settings will not work for you. Here is a brief video why. While it’s the best Mizuno driver I’ve ever hit, nothing about it is going to make you drop your long term gamer and buy it, unless you like shiny new toys or are in need of an upgrade. However, the last statement can be said about all new drivers these days.
The Bottom Line: Mizuno has a winner on their hands and consumers in the market for a new driver in 2015 should definitely put this one on their list. The level of adjustability for this driver is almost maxed out. It gives fitters more options to play with in order to fine-tune the performance. I was fortunate enough to be fit into the driver on Trackman by Mizuno Club Engineer, Chris Voshall. Here is what we found:
First, we started off at the 10.5-degree setting on the Quick Switch and the Fast Track weights positioned in slots #1 and #3. I currently play a 10.5-degree driver so this seemed like the logical starting point. He had me hit three to five balls. As you can see from the picture, my total distance was 291.3 to start. Chris felt like the 11.4 launch angle needed to be increased while maintaining the 2279 rpms of spin or possibly reducing it slightly.
We moved the Quick Switch from 10.5-degrees to 11.5 degrees for the first adjustment. Unfortunately, I am the type of golfer who establishes loft by soling the club and not by adjusting the club to a square position. Once again, I hit three to five balls in this setting. As you can see from the trackman numbers (below), it didn’t change the loft much for me. My total distance actually decreased to 290.4 due to the increase spin to 2442 rpms. Chris decided since we couldn’t get the loft any higher, it was time to dial in the spin numbers.
Now using the Fast Track weights, Chris moved the positioning from #1 and #3 to the F and D ports. This provided a neutral/forward position for the weighting. For whatever reason, this actually increased my spin thus decreasing my total distance to 289.6. Of course, we immediately knew this was wrong adjustment. Fitting is a process in which must leave no stone unturned.
The next adjustment Chris made was to move the weights from positions F and D to F and #3. The thinking behind this was that it should increase loft slightly while bringing the spin back down as well. I hit three to 5 balls again and it did exactly what we had anticipated. The launched increased to 12.7 and the spin came back down under 2400 rpms. Chris still would have liked to see the spin numbers reduced slightly but still he managed to increase my total distance to 293.7, on average. Heck, that’s a total of 4 yards of increase over the worse average that I will gladly take.
Ultimately, I fancy the idea of adjusting the external weighting to create whatever driver you like. If you want a driver that performs similar to the SLDR, it can do that. Want something a little more forgiving like a PING driver? The JPX-850 can handle that as well. If you have a good fitter in your area and you will be testing out drivers this upcoming season, do yourself a favor and try out the JPX-850. You’re going to be surprised that a supposed “iron company” has created such a playable driver.