- The Mizuno Pro line features three new models.
- It’s the most tech-rich MP release ever.
- Available for pre-order (release Feb 3).
We’re running a few months behind but it’s finally Mizuno MP … excuse me … Mizuno Pro time. Typically, this is a discussion that’s as much about the artistry of design—clean flowing lines, precise shaping and the Mizuno tradition—as it is technology and performance.
Not this time.
The demographics of golf have changed. We’ve talked about the influx of new golfers before. As it relates to Mizuno, those new golfers don’t carry with them much of a golfing memory. There’s at best minimal awareness of Mizuno’s traditional role in the market. The lines between iron brands and metalwood brands are fading and, with that, Mizuno sees an opportunity to start fresh.
Instead of dwelling on history, Mizuno hopes to make it. That means you’ll see less emphasis on Mizuno icons like Nick Faldo. You’ll hear much less about Mizuno traditions and all that days of yore stuff.
To be sure, Mizuno loyalists aren’t likely to lose their affinity for the brand but, inside Mizuno, the launch of Mizuno Pro is viewed as a start of a whole new ball game.
Ironically, the Mizuno Pro brand itself isn’t new. The line is steeped in Mizuno tradition. It’s been a signature franchise in Japan to the point of exclusivity. Within Mizuno, that’s led to contradictions, confusion, unnecessary duplication and probably a fair amount of frustration, too.
After several years of fighting, Mizuno USA won what I suppose you could call a font battle and so Mizuno Pro, with its distinct script logo, is now part of the global line.
So yeah, there’s plenty of history with the Mizuno Pro brand but don’t expect Mizuno to dwell on it. The company intends to focus on its strengths while speaking to new golfers in a way that it perhaps hasn’t in the past.
Not history. History in the making.
With that said, even a modernized Mizuno leans on the strengths of its existing playbook. So, as it has done countless times before, Mizuno is rolling out three new iron models. As is the Mizuno way, the Mizuno Pro 221, 223 and 225 irons can be mixed and matched. Mizuno understands that will always be the temptation, and it’s certainly not frowned upon, but each model has been designed to stand on its own. You don’t need to bundle to get the most out of the Mizuno Pro line.
Before we move on to the individual models, now is as good a time as any to mention that the feel-improving copper underlayer found in the MP-20 continues across the Mizuno Pro line. Does it guarantee Mizuno will have the best-feeling irons on the market next season? No. That’s entirely subjective but it certainly won’t hurt the cause.
Mizuno Pro 221
The Mizuno Pro 221 is a blade, which means it’s inherently light on technology. Forged from a single piece of grain-flow forged 1025e, if the idea is to escape tradition, the 221 is the one model in the Mizuno Pro iron lineup that defies the objective.
What are you going to do?
That’s not to say nothing has changed. Most notable in the design is that Mizuno stole a bit of mass from the heel areas to thicken the muscle pad behind the impact zone. The result is a more muted sound that was preferred in player testing.
Like others, with the Mizuno Pro 221, the company leverages a progressive center of gravity design. The idea is to create more penetrating trajectories as lofts increase to suit better players who typically prefer flatter trajectories in their scoring clubs.
Mizuno has also done a bit of reshaping. The Mizuno Pro 221 is shorter heel to toe and generally more compact than the MP-20. The beveling on the topline is a bit more aggressive which should make it appear less blunt at address.
A low-glare satin mirror finish completes the looks
Mizuno Pro 221 Specs
I would describe Mizuno Pro 221 lofts as traditional. Not in the historical sense, of course, but by modern standards a 34-degree 7-iron and 46-degree pitching wedge qualify as weak lofted.
The stock shaft for the Mizuno Pro 221 is the Project X LS. The stock grip is a Golf Pride Z-Grip.
Very much in line with Mizuno tradition, the Mizuno Pro 221 is offered in right-hand only. Retail price is $187.50 per club.
Mizuno Pro 223
Mizuno describes the Mizuno Pro 223 as offering what PGA TOUR players need but what they’d never ask for. Translated: We’re talking about an iron with a compact footprint but not lacking in distance-boosting technology and forgiveness.
As always, forgiveness requires a bit of context. Mizuno puts the target audience at 12-handicap golfers and below while suggesting you could think of the Mizuno Pro 223 as a better player’s JPX Forged. The Mizuno Pro 223 is significantly smaller. Between shape and performance, it’s a bit like shrinking the MP-20-HMB to a size that will appeal to Tour pros without abandoning above-average recreational golfers.
Sounds pretty damned good to me.
Mizuno’s greatest departure from tradition with the Mizuno Pro 223 brings with it significant risk. While the 8-PW are grain-flow forged from 1025E, the 4- to 7-irons are forged from chromoly steel and outfitted with microslots.
Mizuno took a similar risk when it incorporated boron into the MP-25 design. A healthy number of Mizuno loyalists would tell you that, as good as the 25s were, they lacked the traditional Mizuno feel. It’s certainly possible that some will perceive chromoly as not feeling as good as 1025e. It’s also possible that mixing materials will create a lack of continuity of feel throughout the set.
It’s too soon for me to say, of course, but it’s something we’ll be looking at and fully expect our readers to share their thoughts about once the Mizuno Pro line hits retail on Feb. 3.
The upside of forged chromoloy is that it allows Mizuno to thin the faces of the Mizuno Pro 223. By comparison, they’re a bit thinner than JPX921 which allows Mizuno to introduce a bit of speed into the middle of an MP family—something it hasn’t really done before.
Mizuno Pro 223 Specs
By comparison to the 221, Mizuno Pro 223 lofts are a bit more modern. They’re two degrees stronger in the long and middle irons. The stronger lofts work with the speed benefits of the chromoloy to produce more distance while still keeping trajectories well within the playable range. It’s a bit like what Titleist has done with the T100s in that I suppose you could describe the Mizuno Pro 223 as a player’s distance iron that tilts to the player side of the equation.
For lefties, Mizuno is offering a full set of Mizuno Pro 223s instead of pre-bundling a SEL set like it did with MP-20. This, too, is a bit of a return to Mizuno’s tradition of making the middle option in a three-iron lineup available in left-handed.
The stock shaft for the Mizuno Pro 223 is the Nippon Modus 115 (stiff) and Modus 105 (regular). The stock grip is a Golf Pride MMC Teams (black/grey).
Retail price is $187.50 per club.
Mizuno Pro 225
The Mizuno Pro 225—the second generation of what was the HMB—addresses some of issues of the original. In my experience, there were some guys who loved the performance of HMB but, coming from more conventional Mizuno designs, struggled to adjust to the larger footprint at address.
To that end, the Mizuno Pro 225 features a compact, more Tour-like profile that should be most noticeable in the mid and short irons.
Your brief summary of the benefits of the Mizuno Pro 225 is this: Smaller and faster.
It still offers hollow-body construction but it’s been slimmed down enough to almost pass for a blade.
Like the HMB, the Mizuno Pro 225 features a grain-flow forged chromoly construction (face and neck). We can debate whether multi-material construction truly qualifies as forged but, for its part in the discussion, Mizuno believes that if you’re going to mix cast and forged pieces, it should be a forged piece that makes contact with the golf ball.
Because it’s nearly impossible to write about irons without a mention of the “t” word, the Mizuno Pro offers increased tungsten weighting in the 2- to 7-irons (there’s no practical benefit to tungsten in the scoring clubs). The additional mass provided by the tungsten allows Mizuno to drive centers of gravity lower and deeper which results in higher-launching long and middle irons. Think of it as making the irons easier to hit in a way that works sensibly with the stronger lofts.
Compared to the HMB, the Mizuno Pro 225 offers thinner faces which bumps up the COR (more speed). That makes perfect sense in the new world of Mizuno Pro where it’s no longer effectively a tech-less iron franchise.
That’s not to say Mizuno is chasing distance but it’s not shying away from it. Mizuno is at its best when it’s getting more out of smaller irons. More compact than their predecessors, the evolution to the Mizuno Pro 223 and 225 should allow Mizuno to keep up in a way that modernizes the brand without betraying it.
Mizuno Pro 225 Specs
As you should reasonably expect, the Mizuno Pro 225 offers the strongest lofts within the Mizuno Pro family. With wider soles and tungsten weighting, the higher trajectory should overcome any loft-jacking concerns.
The stock shaft is the Project X IO. The stock grip is a Lamkin ST Hybrid.
Available in right-hand only. Retail price is $187.50 per club.
Mizuno Pro FLI-HI
Rounding out the Mizuno Pro iron lineup is the Mizuno Pro FLI-HI utility.
The significant upgrade in the new design is the inclusion of a MAS1C face. Metallurgy typically doesn’t resonate with our readers but the point here is that Mizuno is using the same material it typically uses in its fairway woods to get a little bit more speed out of a utility or what it calls a DLR (direct long iron replacement).
The body of the Mizuno Pro FLI-HI is cast from 431 stainless. The key point being that the material is soft enough to bend. Twenty-one grams of tungsten complete the package.
The obvious point of comparison is to the Mizuno Pro 225 long irons.
On a comparative basis, the Mizuno Pro FLI-FLI is longer from heel to toe, has a wider sole and more offset. Basically, it’s bigger. With that comes a slightly higher and deeper center of gravity along with higher MOI.
Bottom line: it should be easier to hit and should play quite a bit differently than the Mizuno Pro 225 at similar loft.
In my opinion, the HMB at DLR lengths were among the best-feeling clubs in the utility space. The Mizuno Pro FLI-HI seeks to build on that by leveraging complex construction and internal geometry to produce a more pleasing feel. All the tech in the world doesn’t change that fact that, regardless of the font, every Mizuno iron needs to feel like a Mizuno iron.
The Mizuno Pro FLI-HI features a black, ion-plated finish. It’s available as a 2- (16 degrees), 3- (19 degrees) and 4- (21 degrees) iron replacement. Stock steel shaft builds are the same length as the Mizuno Pro 225. Graphite builds are a quarter-inch longer.
Stock shafts include the Project X U 110-gram (steel) and HZRDUS Smoke Black RDX 80 (graphite). The stock grip is the Golf Pride MCC Teams (black/grey).
Retail price for the Mizuno Pro FLI-HI is $225. Available in right-hand only.
Mizuno Pro Iron Availability