Mizuno Makes Putters!
I bet that some of you are surprised by today’s announcement. I feel comfortable making that statement for two reasons. First, some of you may be too young, too new to golf to remember the previous incarnations of Mizuno putters. In actuality, Mizuno has a long history of producing excellent putters, frequently through collaborations with some of the biggest names in the putter business. TP Mills, Bettinardi, and even Scotty Cameron were all at one time associated with manufacturing putters under the Mizuno brand.
These weren’t just putters with the Mizuno name; they were great putters. Search “Mizuno Putters” on eBay and you’ll find some of the older models. Putter collectors still hold these quiet classics in high esteem. They’re priced accordingly. Every couple of months, I search for a good condition Mizuno/Bettinardi Black Carbon BC4.
The second reason you may think Mizuno making putters is a new thing is that recent incarnations of Mizuno putters have been available only outside of the US. That’s a real shame. Some of those Mizuno putters have been outstanding. I’ve done my best to ferret these releases out for you, showcasing the European market MP A-Series and Line 90 putters. While these putters may not have famous designer names behind them, they were excellent sticks. I’ll fight anyone who doesn’t regard the MP A302 as one of the best wide-body blades ever. The putters were terrific, but their lack of distribution in the US kept that fact mostly a secret.
Specifications: Mizuno M•Craft Putters
- Models: 3 (1, 2, & 3)
- Metal: Forged 1025 Carbon Steel
- Finishes: 3
- Construction: 100% Milled
- Length: 34
- Lie: 70°
- Loft: 4°
- Grip: Lamkin Deep Etched Full BLUE cord
- Price: $299.95
- Available Left–Handed: No
- Availability: 01/21 Pre-Sale, 02/14 in shops
Craftsmanship. That is what Mizuno wants consumers to associate with the M•Craft putters. Name recognition should give them a head start. Seemingly, in every survey that we’ve conducted at MyGolfSpy, consumer data shows that golfers associate the Mizuno brand with quality above any other metric. I’m right there with the majority Mizuno mindset, but I also know that with this great accolade comes great responsibility (to the consumer).
The history of golf equipment shows us over and over again how a titan in the industry can be relegated to “Wal-Mart clubs” status after a few less than stellar releases. The golf industry teems with No Dogs Allowed brutality. The fall from prince to pariah is often quick.
Knowing our expectations, Mizuno has made a bold statement in telling us that these new M•Craft putters carry on the tradition of Mizuno craftsmanship.
Let’s take a look and see if consumers will agree.
Milled 1025 Carbon Steel
The Mizuno M•Craft putters are constructed from the same forged 1025 carbon steel it uses to make its forged irons. Since Mizuno forgings are the stuff of legend, establishing a connection between irons and putters is a pro move.
Crafting them from carbon steel, and not the more commonly used stainless steel, is also a solid move. Since these putters don’t sport the name of a big name putter maker, they need something to make them stand out in the putter corral. It’s a reasonable assumption that the Mizuno 2 will feel softer at impact than a Newport 2. The feel difference will be attractive to some consumers.
Three by Three Options
While the M•Craft line only has three models, each of the three will be available in three different finishes. That brings the number of options to nine. Black Ion and Satin will probably be the big sellers, but the Blue Ion putters will be the ones that grab eyes in the golf shop. Not since Callaway’s Tour Blue line have I been this excited for a retail putter color.
Getting back to the models, Mizuno has gone with a classic/conservative line-up. While the lineup isn’t extensive, there is a model for all putting strokes. The #1 fits a strong-arc path, the #2 fitting slight arcs, and #3’s face-balanced nature should satisfy the straights.
While I’m a bit disappointed that the M•Series putters lack the diversity of the MP Series A releases, Mizuno has taken a sensible approach to this release. Folks are going to be surprised to see Mizuno putters in the shop, and having esoteric models to choose from would only complicate things.
Pick the putter for your path. Pick your color. Done.
Who Will Buy These?
That’s the question that almost certainly was at the forefront of this discussion when Mizuno decided to relaunch putters in the US market. Low sales (and the loss of star power) likely contributed to Mizuno existing the putter market last time around. From a business perspective, cool putters are only cool if people buy them. So who will buy these?
Obviously, not the lefties. Sorry, that was harsh, but I am sure that some of you were genetically disappointed when you saw the right-hand only specifications. It’s a market share thing. It doesn’t fit a dip your toes in the water release plan to drop massive amounts of lefty love right off the bat. Should these sell well, you could see left-handed models in the future.
Seriously though, who is the market for these? One potential buyer, and it seems almost absurd saying it about a $300 putter, is the budget-conscious consumer. Flame me if you must, but offering 100% milled putters at a price point a hundred bucks (or more) below the competition is a solid strategy for the guy intrigued by Toulon, Cameron, or Bettinardi, but who is unwilling to shell out the money.
One thing that I didn’t mention above that also plays into the value equation – Mizuno M•Craft putters come with a weight kit. It gives the golfer the ability to make the head heavier or lighter than stock, and if you’re clever enough, speed up or slow down the closure rate. Adjustability is great for fitting. That’s especially true when you don’t have to pay extra for it. Weight kits for other companies can set you back an extra $25-$50 or more.
The last likely target consumer group, and one that could prove significant, are the Mizuno loyalists. Our Most Wanted testing shows us that we all should strive to #beyourownbrand, but we also know that we emotionally favor certain brands more than others. Let’s take a quiz. Raise your hand if you’ve gamed Mizuno irons in the past, are currently gaming Mizuno irons, or will likely buy Mizuno irons in the future. I see lots of you with your hands up. Brand loyalty is a thing, and companies love it. Some golfers will buy these putters just because they say Mizuno. Again though, if these putters don’t reflect Mizuno standards, you run the risk of sending Roadrunner Nation elsewhere.
Mizuno: Not Just an Iron Company
The Mizuno M•Craft putters may be the piece that proves Mizuno is more than just an iron company. If you’ve been paying attention over the past few years, you likely already know about Mizuno’s excellent non-iron offerings. Its wedges have been nothing short of exceptional, and the metalwoods are definitely not just an afterthought. It wasn’t particularly surprising when TruegolfFit put me into an ST190G driver last year. Mizuno is making legit gear for all spots in your bag.
We can probably all agree that Mizuno makes quality golf gear, and I’m sure that Mizuno takes great pride in their blue-ribbon quality reputation, but it also knows that reputations must be earned year after year. With this in mind, this first-in-a-while US putter release isn’t without risk. Consumers like comfortable boxes, and many already struggle to accept Mizuno as something other than an iron company. If the putters aren’t good…
With risk comes reward, though. “What’s that blue putter?” may be the simple question that breaks the irons-only dam wide open.
Pricing and Availability
Retail price for all Mizuno M•Craft putters is $299.99. Full retail availability beings February 14th, 2020. For more information, visit the Mizuno Golf Website.