Interview: Mizuno M.Craft Putters with Chris Voshall
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Interview: Mizuno M.Craft Putters with Chris Voshall

Interview: Mizuno M.Craft Putters with Chris Voshall

The M.Craft line is Mizuno’s first putter entry into the U.S. market since 2007. At the 2020 PGA Show, we spoke with Chris Voshall about how golfers have reacted so far, some of the philosophies behind the brand, and why he thinks Mizuno’s garnered such a cult following.

Watch/read the full interview below:

Interview Transcript

MIRANDA: Our readers were stoked to find out Mizuno was bringing putters to the U.S., we’ve had so much feedback on that. Have you seen that as you’re going through the PGA show, when people come to take a look at the putters, are they excited?

CHRIS: It’s funny; we started out… We’re very timid usually when we dip our toe into the water of a new category, or a relatively new category for us. So our early forecast was very, very conservative, we had x number that we thought we were going to bring in and they already pre-booked twice what we thought we were going to be able to sell, and we haven’t even shipped ONE yet. It just shows there was that pent up demand for it. Those Mizuno fans have obviously been out there.

Mizuno M.Craft Putters

CHRIS: So this is the M-Craft series. We actually have three different heads and three different finishes, all of them using some Mizuno technologies for feel. That’s one of the things we’re known for is making a golf club feels good. I don’t think there’s another forged putter on the market right now. Traditionally forged is more expensive. This is a $300 putter, which in the world of putters is really middle of the pack.

MIRANDA: Ok.

CHRIS: So, forged because that gives you a great feel, forged out of a 1025 material which is the same we use in our MP-20 irons, our musclebacks, the MMCs, all the better player irons that people know about. Start with a great process, start with a great material, and then we mill it from there. If you run your fingernail across the face, you can feel how aggressive that milling is.

MIRANDA: Yep, I was going to ask you to explain that.

CHRIS: So the idea behind the milling is it’s just minimizing the contact area. When you minimize contact area, it actually softens the sound of impact too. So materials, processes, all those things to make it feel like a Mizuno should. ‘Cause that’s almost like the number one thing we can’t mess up for our fans, it’s like Mizuno junkies, the second one feels bad it’s like “What did you do?” It’s the most offensive thing for a Mizuno person.

MIRANDA: Ok. Now you’re also bringing these putters to the U.S. for the first time since 2007?

CHRIS: I think that’s right, you know better than I do, that’s probably right. Our last putter venture was with Bettinardi. Ultimately in the day and age, when putters cost so much and golf clubs cost so much in general, the putter designers want to have their own version and then an OEM version that would essentially be a dumbed-down version. So I’m gonna buy a Bettinardi, I don’t want a Mizuno Bettinardi I want a Bettinardi.

MIRANDA: Right.

CHRIS: So with that being said, we kind of went away from the range of paying somebody else to design our putters. We have good designers. We have good eyes. I consider myself to have a pretty good eye when it comes to the look and feel of everything. Putters too, I’m just as picky on those as I am with some of the irons. So it felt like we could design a putter and bring our technologies to it.

CHRIS: And it’s funny, we talked about going global with putters, we’re also going global with the woods which we haven’t done before. We’ve always had a Western world product for the U.S., for Europe, and then we had an Asian product, so Japan and Korea selling a different product. What that meant in terms of development and resources is we were divided. We had one team working on this one, one team working on this, a number of resources going here, and a number going here…

CHRIS: We decided to make the move to be global this year, the ST200, and that’s why we added the 200, the 200G and the 200X. And ultimately, I know you guys understand the industry and know how it works: when you’re buying drivers, if you go in with an order that’s twice as big to a factory than an order that’s half as big, you can get more value from that factory. That also means that if we have a head cost we want to hit, if we’re buying twice as many and the head cost comes down, we can shove more technology in it.

MIRANDA: Something you don’t have to sell is your irons. What keeps those so consistently good?

CHRIS: The history of Mizuno irons is a lot of what keeps it good, in that we keep pretty tight handcuffs on what we’ll do. The look has to check the box of a Mizuno iron. You look at some of these other booths where each iron each year looks more ridiculous than the last. All of ours look very clean, very simple, very sophisticated. Feel is huge for us, we use the same factories, the same foundry, and on top of that, we use a lot of engineering behind it. In terms of how we measure the feel, how we engineer the feel into it with the sound, the material, the processes, the actual geometry of the club, I feel like we know feel.

CHRIS: So we get the feel right, we get the look right, and then we’re engineers. We’re not marketers. You look around and we don’t have ads everywhere. We’re not on the Golf Channel. We’re not on the Sunday coverage of whatever tournament’s going on because we’d rather use that money to put into the product to make a better product. I think the results speak for themselves. On your testing this year, I think we swept the irons.

MIRANDA: You did, absolutely.

CHRIS: I mean that doesn’t happen by accident, that doesn’t happen by putting out a crummy product out and marketing the crap out of it because you guys are looking beyond the marketing. That stuff gets thrown out in testing. Ultimately we have a great engineering team, and we know what we’re trying to do, we have a focus on every product, and I think the results speak for themselves.

MIRANDA: Mizuno users, athletes, golfers, are very loyal. Do you recognize your own cult following?

CHRIS: [Laughs] I think so, and cult following is probably the exact way to phrase it.

MIRANDA: It’s the best way to put it, isn’t it?

CHRIS: What I like about Mizuno followers is, it’s almost like its a little anti-establishment. There’s so much of the golf world that’s very big on the Taylormades, the Callaways, the Titleists, the Pings…

MIRANDA: The Big Five.

CHRIS: Exactly. If you know Mizuno, you almost feel like you’re in on something.

MIRANDA: You take some ownership in it.

CHRIS: Exactly. So when people play it, and typically its been a better player for a long time even though we sell more game improvement irons than better player irons, people feel like if they play Mizuno, it’s like a badge of honor. It says something about them. It says, “I didn’t buy into the marketing hype. I went and tested. I did my research.”

It’s all about putting out the right product, and I think we continue to do that, which is why they become so loyal to us.

MIRANDA: How do you compete with the Big Five?

CHRIS: You know, the world of social media, the world of websites, there’s so much information out there that’s much more credible than paid information. You can only believe so much when somebody was paid X number of dollars to say it. Now that there’s places like MyGolfSpy, places like some of your competitors where you can actually read independent reviews, that has become so much more valuable than what you see on TV or on somebody’s hat.

You look at a lot of players on tour who have another company’s name on their hat and have our clubs in their bag. That says something. If you go back 8, 9 years ago, that was invisible to the consumer. All they saw was the hat. Now you see what’s in the bag posts, and people understand what’s in them. So the fact that they’re choosing it, they’re seeking us out, it shows that consumers are smart and ultimately they’re going to dig through to the truth.

Unless we’re being honest and delivering the truth, we’re going to get exposed, so that’s why we always try to do that.

 

Read the Full Transcript

For more information on M.Craft Putters and all of Mizuno’s product offerings, visit the Mizuno Golf website.

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      Alexander M

      4 years ago

      I can just imagine the wizards of Mizunos marketing department:

      ”Our market data on previous Mizuno putter ranges indicate a very weak left hand market (bacause you never made any in left hand) so we suggest going with right haded options only with this new line”

      The putter is a brand cult enabler and a craft, looks and feel product, so for a company that builds is its brand on craftmanship and feel, it’s actually quite amazing that ”nothing feels like Mizuno for lefties”

      Yes, I am a bitter Leftie :-) and TaylorMade, Odyssey and Titleist says thanks!

      Reply

      Walt Pendleton

      4 years ago

      Dr. Sasho MacKenzie’s research determined that 50% of every putt Nside12 feet was missed due to poor green reading. The other two factors that closely followed misreads was; poor ball speed control at the hole and starting the ball on a line that didn’t matched the ball’s alignment and speed. Based on these facts from Dr. MacKenzie’s research, I’d have to say we’re improperly training ourselves during practice. It’s the Indian, not the arrow! Nside10.com

      Reply

      Ryan Richardson

      4 years ago

      Those look sweet!! I’d give one a try. I’ve been gaming a Futura X5R since 2015. I’m ready to try something new. Was looking at a Juno or a Stroke Lab #1, but I may have to wait till I can demo one of these. The black finish looks particularly interesting.

      Reply

      [email protected] hi

      4 years ago

      Did you ever think about showing the TOP of the putter? Y’know, the part that you see when you are using it .

      Reply

      LoganT

      4 years ago

      These are definitely some of the better looking putters I’ve seen in awhile. I believe Mizuno makes some of the best golf equipment that can be bought and I’m sure these putters are no exception. I’ve never been much on having the same brand throughout my bag but Mizuno might change that very soon.

      Reply

      shortside

      4 years ago

      Much like a Red Panda I must have one.

      Reply

      David

      4 years ago

      Just call them made in the USA Mizuno Complimenting Ping copies ..

      Reply

      Brian

      4 years ago

      Derp…

      You may as well call out every single putter manufacturer while you’re at it.

      Reply

      Joe Duffer

      4 years ago

      I don’t get it. – These putter are not Mizuno “Blade” putters!

      These are heel/toe weighted, plumber’s neck (Anser style) putters.

      A true Mizuno “Blade” putter would be a Mizuno Pro 9001 (8802 style).

      Reply

      Gareth Hill

      4 years ago

      I’ve just found an MP T101 putter that I foolishly sold to get a scotty newport 2. The mizuno is just so soft feeling even compared to a standard anser. It must be the soft forged steel. I’ll never part with this one!

      Reply

      Peter

      4 years ago

      A putter is a putter,if it feels good to your eye it will work.Thanks to expensive putters I was able to get my first set of near mint Mizuno MP54 irons .The guy I bought them off needed money fast to help pay for his new 500 dollar putter so I got the irons for 200 bucks..The irons are brilliant,they make me swing with more discipline.As for the guys putter his handicap hasn’t changed,but his wife doesn’t know about it!

      Reply

      Brian

      4 years ago

      A putter is not just a putter. I don’t do well with plumber’s necks or face balanced mallets because I have a bigger arc in my stroke. Using the wrong putter for your natural stroke will lead to poor results. I push putts with any putter than doesn’t have 60+ degrees of toe hang, for example.

      Reply

      Stevan Demase

      4 years ago

      Mizuno makes high quality clubs as well as there other sports equipment. I always feel I am buying top of the line.

      Reply

      jlukes

      4 years ago

      I have an M Craft 1 & 2.

      So good.

      Reply

      Thomas A

      4 years ago

      Big 5? Taylor Made, Callaway, Ping, Titleist, & ????

      Reply

      Ryebread

      4 years ago

      Cobra, though they are a distant 5th.

      Reply

      Carolyn

      4 years ago

      Yes the equipment people are coming up with more and more well made and beautiful if you will equipment…does anyone really need them? But golf is a game where one is just as proud of their $600 driver or $400 putter as their 2 handicap.

      Reply

      Michael Pasvantis

      4 years ago

      Went for a SAM putter analysis session and the fitter recommended a face balanced putter based on my stroke. I’m actually a very good putter, rarely do I three putt, but on the other hand, I don’t one putt enough either.
      For years I had always used a mid toe hang putter and for a long time never knew anything about how putters we’re designed especially in terms of balance. If it looked good to me down by the ball then I’d get it. I’ve been golfing for 27 years and have only used 4 putters. I don’t know if that’s a lot or a little but I know it took me a lot to change. I tested out several face balanced models and the M Craft 3 was just absolutely money. Too many other putters, especially ones with inserts, gave me inconsistent results based on the type of insert. The Mizuno is no frills, great milled design, great balance and great look and you get the weight kit as well to really customize your putter.
      To be honest I was drawn more to the 1 and 2 models but the results with the face balanced putter do not lie. First few rounds out and I know there’s no magic putter that can make you one putt every green but what I did notice was how much better my proximity was on the second putt. Better line and finishing in Tap in range. My last round out was first time I ever shot even par and finished the day with 25 putts which was a huge part of that.
      Know your stroke and pick the proper weapon and you will improve.

      Reply

      David Dimmich

      4 years ago

      I can’t believe there is so much clamor over putters. Putting is almost all practice, technique, and confidence. There can’t possibly be that much difference in instruments when the swing is only 3-4 mph. You could hit a putt with a broomstick if it was flat on one side….

      Reply

      Chris Nickel

      4 years ago

      As long as each putt still counts for a full stroke, then viable technology that helps players become more consistent is going to help golfers shoot lower scores.

      No one should discount the importance of practice and sound fundamentals, but for me a putter that gives me better results creates more confidence.

      If you adjusted the weight configuration on your driver and started hitting more fairways, wouldn’t that yield more confidence? Point being, if there’s technology in your driver, there’s technology in your putter and the fact the motion is slower is a flawed argument. When the target is 4.25″, every fraction is important.

      Reply

      Mark M

      4 years ago

      Played a Mizuno TP Mills putter back in the 90sso when offered I readily tried the Type 1 Blue Ion at the Golf Expo here in Feb. Excellent look and feel.
      The Type 1 has a very Laguna 2 Pro Platinum head shape (played one for about 12 years), which I favor.
      And the feel of the ball on the face is fantastic. Makes whatever ball you are using feel like balata.
      Add the included weight kit and I’m just waiting to test one out for real.

      Reply

      Chaf

      4 years ago

      I’ve been a Mizuno fan for a longtime, but the lack of left handed options really bother me. How can I continue to support a company that doesn’t give the same options to lefties? Honestly in this day and age it shouldn’t happen.

      Reply

      Bob

      4 years ago

      Lefty, and I game Mizuno irons, too. My guess is, they’ll wait till they know demand is there, then like their wedges in the past, offer LH version(s) in one of the finishes.

      Reply

      Robin

      4 years ago

      Great price,super sale price and eBay is dirt cheap
      I like being lefty

      Reply

      Chris Nickel

      4 years ago

      Ultimately, it’s a simple matter of economics. It has nothing to do with “this day and age”

      Lefties make up +/- 10% of the overall population and it’s closer to 5% within the golf world in North America. So functionally, you’re suggesting a company offer the same menu for at best 1/20 potential customers. Frankly, considering the costs of tooling, it’s hard to imagine most OEMs not taking a healthy loss on most LH products.

      Reply

      Chaf

      4 years ago

      I understand for smaller companies it may not be worth it, but Mizuno is not a small company! And the big 3 don’t seem to have an issue with it. While the left handed population in the US may only be 12 percent in Canada it’s over 30. So yeah I expect a company like Mizuno to make their clubs available to lefties.

      Bob

      4 years ago

      That’s a bit of a circle—minority of golfers are left handed, so equipment manufacturers don’t offer LH equipment—left handers have few options of equipment, so fewer left handers play golf.

      I traded in my last set of golf clubs when I updated to my current set at a local store. My old clubs didn’t last a week. So, there’s demand, and lefties want to play the game. But if all I can find easily is Pinseeker putters for $40 … is it really surprising why only 5% of US golfers are left handed?

      Tom Duckworth

      4 years ago

      Saw them at Golf Galaxy and they really jumped out especially the blue you can’t miss them. Very high quality look and feel. I am biased towards milled putters and these are as nice as any out there.

      Reply

      Tank

      4 years ago

      I agree with Chris on everything except when it come down to social media. Social media is a good tool to a point. The other side is when sites do product testing and the reviewers give glowing comments about the products they tested, knowing if they don’t, they probably won’t be picked to test again. Then again, who doesn’t like free clubs?

      Reply

      Rob C

      4 years ago

      You must be thinking about other sites, certainly not MGS. As one who has been responsible for picking testers the last three years, I can assure you the result of the review is never taken into future consideration. The things that are: was it honest, did it follow the template provided was it given a full effort, and was it completed in the required time.frame?

      Reply

      Tank

      4 years ago

      Was it THat obvious I was thinking about other sites?

      Dom

      4 years ago

      I tried these out at a Club Champion in late February. They look and feel fantastic. Soft off the face, well balanced, etc. Definitely could have ended up in my bag with more testing. The blue finish is what drew my eye the most, but the darker finish looks great too. I’m definitely going to try them out again once the stores open back up.

      Reply

      Will

      4 years ago

      Interesting read. I have a Mizuno BC4 blade & Bettinardi blade; both are carbon steel milled & excellent putters. IMO, there’s quite a difference in the feel/performance of a milled putter from a solid block of carbon steel, rather than those with an insert.. These M-Craft putters have a great look, especially the blue, IMO; being made from their soft 1025 steel, probably give them Mizuno Forged Feel. I believe that it comes with a weight kit/tool, which speaks well for Mizuno. I love their forged irons & look forward to rolling this putter, of course on a real green, when clubs are permitted to open again in our area…

      Reply

      Nicholas Guthe

      4 years ago

      I’ve been playing for 20 years. I bought a used TP Mills over 10 years ago in a bargain bin. I think it was 20 bucks. Since then I’ve bought many high end putters only to return them all and stick with my Mizuno. It’s the oldest club in my bag by far and will never sell it. Perfect look at address, compact blade. Hope they bring it back.

      Reply

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