This is without a doubt the most difficult review I’ve experienced in the 10 years I’ve been reviewing golf equipment on this blog. Why so difficult? The process and results didn’t go as I expected and I became frustrated enough that I wanted to bail on these clubs. Thanks to my friend Doug Bybee at Mizuno I stuck with them.
Mizuno JPX850 Forged Irons
For a guy who has been playing 2002 Hogan forged irons for most of the last 13 years (a couple of others went into the gamer bag for a few months here and there) switching to different irons is very tough. After playing a single brand and model for that long one is (or should be) very in tune and connected to the feel and performance of the clubs. That was one of the difficult parts of switching to the JPX-850 Forgred irons. The 850’s had a hell of a tough task, to dethrone what I believed are the best irons I’ve ever played.
Before I go into the long winded story of my experience with these irons I’ll first mention the technology and engineering involved in making them.
The irons are forged using a “grain flow” forging process. This helps add distance to forged irons that might normally be lost in traditional forging.
1025E steel billets in the head add strength and distance to the club.
The face of the club is super-thin. Thin faces mean more control, forgiveness, and distance. Weight is moved to the outside of the club increasing the clubs COR rating (meaning it resists twisting and turning at impact) and making the club easier to hit.
The 4-7 irons have a slightly different feature, the “Ultra CNC Milled Pocket.” This produces a higher launch angle and ball speeds.
I have to pat myself on the back in this section of my review. The JPX-850 Forged irons are stunningly beautiful from a purely aesthetic standpoint. I take great pride in my high quality product photos for my reviews. I have to say these are probably the best iron pictures I’ve ever shot. It helps to start with such great material!
The first part of getting the 850’s was to go through the Mizuno fitting. The fitting was a fun and educational experience. Below is a video from the 2012 PGA Merchandise Show featuring the Mizuno fitting system. It is a little old, but gives you the idea.
In my fitting I learned that the dual chicken wing granny over the top swing I’ve got may not look pretty, but it is consistent and produces a very good dispersion rate. In other words, I don’t spray them.
Doug did my fitting along with a local club fitter at my local shop here in Salt Lake City, Uinta Golf. We did the fitting off of mats on a Flight Scope launch monitor.
During a fitting like this the player will take some swings with a test club and the Mizuno fitting system will produce custom club and shaft recommendations based on the results. Then the tech will make up a test club with some of those specs for the player to try. Once again those results are analyzed and the player will also chime in on feel and such. The process isn’t long and in short order one has the specs of the “pefect club” for his swing.
The results were quite stunning for me. Where my stock Hogan 6-iron was fairly accurate and fairly long at 180-185 yards, the newly built 850 Forged with custom shaft was even more accurate. Nearly no dispersion at only 1-2 yards off center. On top of that, the average distance was 200 yards.
I was sold and very excited to get my new clubs.
Mizuno JPX-850 Forged Gap Wedge
It didn’t take long for Mizuno to custom build the clubs and get them to my front door. Less than a week. Custom everything, down to the grips. I couldn’t wait to get to the course and start firing darts at flags and racking up birdies like John Daly racks up ex-wives.
Houston We Have a Problem
Now the frustration part…
I couldn’t wait to hit these, of course. On the range the day after I got them I was shocked to find myself literally cold-topping almost every swing. The contact was so bad that sometimes my hands were going numb. When I did manage to get a shot airborne it didn’t seem to fly well. It seemed I was missing the sweet spot 95% of the time.
For many rounds over several weeks I became frustrated and disappointed in these irons. The 6-iron was not going 200. It didn’t even go as far as my old Hogans. Most shots where coming up pathetically and painfully short right.
My confidence was shattered. So was my wallet. So were my scores.
Mizuno JPX-850 Forged Irons
I talked to Doug and he did his best to calm me down. I was surprised to hear him tell me that I had to get used to, and adjust to these clubs. In my mind I thought they were fitted and adjusted to my swing already.
I was tempted to send the clubs back and put the Hogans back in play, but Doug kept on me and gave me some pep talks. “These are the 2nd best selling irons in the golf industry” he would tell me. “Give this new technology a chance to work for you.”
Because of Doug and everything Mizuno had done for me, I kept with them. I kept making small tweaks and trying to figure out the proper swing and proper ball position. One round “it” happened. On the par-3 9th at my home curse I picked a 6-iron for a 185 yard shot. I nailed it, right at the flag. The shot didn’t go 185. It flew over the pin, over the green, over the cart path behind the green, and over a tall tree. My best guess is the shot flew 225 yards. Unfortunately the ball rolled down behind the trunk of the tree, on a downslope, behind the world’s toughest par-3. Never before have I been as happy with a shot which had such a horrible result.
That shot told me I could hit these solid, far, and straight.
Over many rounds I started to see slow improvement in the contact and feel. I wasn’t spraying the irons ever. It was mostly a distance issue from missing the sweet spot. I started to find myself hitting a laser at a flag more and more often. Shots that were so aligned with the pin I’d have to turn my head sideways to see the pin. I stared off hitting one or maybe two in a round. As I got more and more used to the clubs my iron play improved greatly.
My swing has been subconsciously adjusting as well as consciously to the 850’s. My confidence has returned. I am able to hit “shots” when needed, like low punches under trees, cuts, draws. Iron play is now fun again and I’m really feeling the clubs without having to make deliberate changes to swing or setup.
Despite the “fitting” it took me about half a year to adjust my swing to these irons. Maybe I’m a brain dead hacker used to doing the same thing and changing my iron swing was like trying to turn an aircraft carrier? Perhaps, but I have some other ideas. I’m a cause and effect guy and over the last couple of months I’ve tried to analyze the fitting and results. Some items stand out to me which could be factors.
First, the fitting was done on an indoor simulator on a mat. I hate mats. When given the choice to warm up or practice on mats I’ll choose to go to the first tee cold. It is almost impossible for my steep granny swing to hit a bad shot on a mat. The club bounces up just right. On real grass though, the club does not bounce up like that.
Second, I was wearing a particular model of FootJoys during the fitting last winter\fall. This spring my friends at FJ send in a new model to review and the platform is thicker and wider. As spastic as my swing is that platform difference could make a difference. If they’re half an inch higher that changes all sorts of angles. My gamer driver performance is greatly affected by changing from one of those sets of shoes to the other.
Beautiful Mizuno Irons
Finally, my fitting was at a time toward the end of last season. I had a whole summer of swinging leading up to the fitting, and was probably swinging well during the fitting. Then I change irons (and shoes) in the first half of the next season, possibly introducing all sorts of factors my rusty hack game wasn’t used to.
The frustration and overly long adjustment period of time could be attributed to one or any combination of the ideas above, or perhaps it is something else I’m not thinking of. It is golf after all.
Last week I hit a super solid tee shot on the par-3 6th at one of my home courses. The ball settled in to about three feet. My long time golf buddy chimed in, “what club was that?” I answered “an eight.” He then said, “for the first time in 20 years of playing with you I can’t tell what clubs you are hitting. That shot flew like a 9-iron but went as far as a 7-iron.”
As bad as my short game is, missing a green in regulation is going to mean a bogey 50-75% of the time, despite being a great putter. I need to hit greens and let my solid putting take it from there. That puts pressure on my iron/approach game. It has taken a while but now I have confidence in the JPX-850 Forged Irons. The JPX-850 Forged are truly great golf clubs, worthy of Mizuno’s fine reputation as one of the best iron makers in the world.
Sniff sniff… This is my newest and already most sentimental club, yet to be hit (2:30 tee time today though). This is my “Seve” wedge, also known as the Mizuno MP-T5 6006 lob wedge.
The “Seve” Wedge
This is a 60 degree wedge with six degrees of bounce, thus the “6006.” Mizuno offers custom stamping on these wedges of up to six characters and 12 different colors.
I chose “Seve” for a couple of reasons. First, my 2.5 year old son’s name is Seve. I can think of him every time I hit this club. It will give me a nice perspective. Second, the club is a small tribute to the late great Seve Ballesteros. I hope this wedge helps channel some of the Houdini-like escape skills of Seve Ballesteros. With all the places I seem to hit golf balls other than the green, I need those escape skills.
I will be putting this wedge in play right away and posting a review soon. Stay tuned for that.
I’ve started the first sentence of this review then deleted it several times, trying to find a witty way saying I have a new gamer 56 degree (sand) wedge. I don’t want to sound like every hack golf writer/blogger who has a new gamer every week. You know the ones: “this is the best (insert golf club here) I’ve ever hit!” Then next week they write a review about another one and say the same thing. My previous 56 degree wedge has been in my bag since 2006. Yes TWO THOUSAND AND SIX. That’s nine years for those of you counting at home. What’s even more remarkable is the number of wedges which have had the opportunity to dethrone it. I’ll be doing a WITG piece on those who didn’t make the cut soon: “what’s in the garage?”
So what is the new wedge which has been able to take a position in my bag that at least a dozen others have not been able to achieve? It is the new Mizuno MP-T5 5610. The 56 in 5610 is the number of degrees. The 10 in 5610 represents the degrees of bounce on the sole of the club.
Mizuno Golf MP-T5 5610 Wedge – click to zoom
The MP-T5 wedges are “grain flow forged.” Forging is the most popular process for higher end clubs, and clubs which have more feel to them. The other process is casting, which in my opinion produces clubs which have no feel, or basically feel the same on every shot. The metal used in the forging of this wedge is 1025 E pure select mild carbon steel. This is a soft steel, if there is such a thing. The softness gives the player control and feel.
The grooves in the MP-T5 are “quad cut,” milled out of the face with a CNC milling machine. This produces a lot of surface area on the face, giving the wedge more biting power and therefore more control via more spin.
Mizuno provides all sorts of options when they custom build the wedge for their players (at no extra charge I might add). There are 25 loft/bounce options for every possible swing style and condition.
Mizuno offers a True Temper Dynamic Gold “Wedge” flex shaft as its stock option and that’s the shaft in my test unit. There are roughly 15 other custom shaft options available.
This wedge combines a white satin finish with some great artwork and a very classy shape. The white satin to me is more of a matte-silver finish, which I really like. No distracting glare from the sun.
Mizuno MP-T5 Wedge
I don’t have the Black Ion Steel unit so I cant speak much about it, other than it looks fantastic.
I would never switch out a sand wedge which has been in my bag for NINE years to one which doesn’t have great feel. I adjusted to the wonderful feel of this wedge much quicker than I thought I would. I can tell exactly where I’ve made contact on the club face via the club’s “feedback” sound and feel.
On the Course
If you’re looking for computerized Iron Byron testing results with a TrackMan and exact spin rates, launch angles… check another site. My reviews are all hands-on, on the course. I can’t help wondering when that Iron Byron guy will finally find the right club for his perfect swing anyway. I don’t hit it perfect every time, and neither does anyone else, except Iron Byron.
Technical stuff and looks aside, the on-the-course performance is the most important factor. The first shot I hit, and no I didn’t bother hitting the range first, was a thrill. I was 96 yards from a front pin on the 10th hole at my home course Bonneville. The green is elevated (the right green for those of you who know the course) and anything short is in long rough. Oddly, this particular green has no fringe.
My shot hit right next to the pin, dead on line. It bounced a few feet past and spun back to about two feet. I made the ticklish birdie putt. I have hit many similar triumphant shots with the MP-T5 wedge. I find my accuracy around 100-110 is quite good.
Check out the milling on the face…
The real game changer for me (and “game changer” is a phrase that I really don’t like using) is in chipping. I’ve been using my 60 degree wedge for chipping around the greens, but thought I would try this 56 instead. The contact I’m getting is so much better. I think the added bounce is making a big difference as my 60 is very low bounce. The chipping has been much improved. Not great, but much improved. I’ll still use the lob for flops.
Finally, in the sand I’ve had some great results. My previous 56 was very good out of the sand and I wasn’t sure I’d ever find another wedge as good. The jury is still out as I haven’t hit enough green-side bunkers to really know, but so far so good.
The $129.99 retail Mizuno MP-T5 5610 is a fantastic sand wedge. Whether I’m hitting full shots from 100-110, sand shots, or chipping around the green, it performs as good or better than any other 56 I’ve tried. And I’ve tried more than a few. Just look in my garage.
Drool alert! I try to be as unbiased and objective as I can with my product reviews in the hopes that my readers can trust my opinions. That said, I’m as excited to review these beautiful Mizuno irons as I’ve been for just about any product review I’ve done. Just look at them…
Mizuno JPX850 Forged Irons (no lame photo filters needed) – click to see more
Two Saturdays ago I had a Mizuno fitting which produced the data for what is hopefully the holy grail of clubs for me. Now my Mizuno JPX850 Forged Irons are here, custom fit for my amazing dual chicken wing granny over the top swing. I begin testing at noon today, rain or shine..sun or snow. Nothing is going to stop me from hitting these as soon as possible.
Mizuno JPX850 Forged Set (4-iron to gap wedge) – click for more images
One round will certainly not be enough to evaluate and write a review since I don’t do flyby reviews or “hit it once on the range” reviews like other golf sites. Stay tuned for my review in what I hope is a short while. I plan to get in as many rounds as the snow will allow and when it does snow, I’ll be heading south to St. George, Mesquite, and/or Vegas to complete the testing. Yeah, tough gig.
This past Saturday I had a second fitting with Mizuno Golf, this time with long time friend and National Accounts Manager Doug Bybee. It was a stroke of luck, pun intended. Doug is based in Atlanta, but happened to be in Salt Lake for the weekend. Lucky me.
We did the fitting in a bay at the popular Salt Lake City golf store Uinta Golf. We were able to take advantage of their Foresight golf launch monitor, which really helped us determine the best components and setup for the fit. Thanks to the staff at Uinta for all that.
Mizuno’s Performance Fitting System utilizes sensors in the fitting club which gives valuable information to the fitter and software. Those numbers include clubhead speed, tempo, toe down, shaft kick angle, and release factor. See below:
My Mizuno Fit
Once a few swings are recorded, the software produces a set of three recommended shafts based on the data. The club fitter then puts those shafts on the chosen club head(s) where more swings are captured. This is where the Foresight data came in very handy, but doing the same fitting on a live range would produce great visual results as well.
I compared the three recommended shafts with each other, also switching between the Mizuno MP15 head and JPX 850 Forged head. For reference I also compared my current gamer, the old Hogan Apex Edge Pro.
The results were stunning. When using the Nippon NS PRO 1150 stiff shaft, I gained a solid 10 yards (6-iron). That’s great but not the most amazing part. Unbelievably, my dispersion area was tiny. I was hitting 6-irons 200 yards and landing them on a dime. See below:
Circles represent several shots with different shafts, smallest circle is best
Launch lines below:
I hit most of the test shots with most shafts pretty straight…
Though I loved the feel of the Mizuno MP15 head, my accuracy and distance with the JPX 850 Forged was obviously better. That’s the club I’m going with. The club is slightly more forgiving than the MP15, which means mis-hits will be a little less errant. As an amateur player, that’s a big deal.
I’m now waiting for these beauties to arrive. I understand Mizuno is very fast once the custom order is placed. I will put the clubs right into play and begin reviewing as soon as possible. Unfortunately the weather has turned here though. The high today will still be below freezing. I’ll have to head south to warmer weather.
It is quite stunning how big a difference the SHAFT makes and Mizuno’s fitting system with shaft optimizer helps the golfer find the perfect match in dozens of shafts available. I’d be willing to say the shaft is as important as the head. One shaft felt so-so, was 10 yards shorter, and had a variance of almost 10 yards right or left of center and 20 yards total dispersion. Simply changing shafts added 10 yards and tightened up that dispersion to a few feet.
As soon as the new irons arrive my Nikon will see the first action and I’ll post some photos. Then being the reviewing process.