When it comes to irons in golf a blade is a blade, right? Well, not always.
Those who choose to play muscle-back style bladed irons tend to be a finicky bunch. That’s not a knock on them. The reality is that they represent a very slim consumer market.
Some play this challenging style of iron for the performance characteristics while other choose to do so on looks alone.
When it comes to choosing WHICH blade they will play the demands are very particular – a certain shape, a certain feel.
Average consumers might look at the latest blades from Srixon (Z-945),Titleist (MB 716), and Mizuno (MP-5), and see nothing but a scary looking piece of steel that won’t help them one bit, but aficionados see subtle differences that grab their attention.These are the details that matter for this market.
I’d recommend that most of you wait it out for reviews of the new Mizuno MP-25, JPX Forged and JPX-EZ (they’re all sorts of fun to hit, even off centre) but for those with a hankering for classic Mizuno stylings, settle in.
The MP-5’s (5, 7, 9 irons) arrived for testing along with the other three models of Mizuno irons for 2016. My intent was to work my way through the grouping in a particular order. I wanted to see if there was any progression in ease of use and performance. The new MP-5 had to be the baseline.
Over a period of days I hit the MP-5’s in a variety of situations. Indoors, outdoors, off mats, and off turf. In doing so I noted launch monitor data on a TrackMan radar system, a High Definition Simulator (indoors), and even had other golfers try them for feedback at two ranges where I was testing.
To be fair there was only one consumer who hit the MP-5 who fit within their target market of a serious player up to a 5 index. He admitted he loved the feel and look and but when he had a chance to try the more “forgiving” models he was torn in his affections. It was not a sharp contrast but noticeable nonetheless.
As mentioned, a blade is a blade to most but their are subtleties in the MP-5 (and Mizuno blades in general) that players are drawn to.
Some manufacturers have gone to extreme with their blade designs, making them as severe as possible with razor thin top-line and soles (preferred by some) but with the MP-5, Mizuno is not quite in that realm. The top line is not bevelled a lot, allowing you to see the bulk of the club a bit. That’s not a bad thing, it does give you a better sense that you might be successful in actually hitting it. The edges are rounded, which does soften the form.
A slightly curved toe shape void of harsh angles also mellows the appearance. Offset is minimal, as expected, and the grey finish in the groove area provides a nice contract at address.
Overall it is a mid-length blade, not too shallow, but familiar in appearance to those who have handled Mizuno clubs before.
You’ll note that the weighting on the back visibly keeps more mass in the lower part of the head in the long irons and progressively adds it to the top of the blade in the short irons. This makes a difference in the next part of this review, when you hit the ball.
As you know how a golf club “perform”is very subjective depending on the player. These are simply the general observations from my test sessions. Your mileage will vary. I am a high speed player (and PGA of Canada Candidate) who spent many years playing blades. My ball strike pattern is fairly consistent but I do take that into account when noting the results of shots. I generally only pay attention to those that I strike optimally (I spray the face with foot spray to see where contact is made), unless I am looking to derive how a club performs on off-centre hits.
The first thing you notice when you hit the MP-5 is the “density” of the feel. Strikes in the centre of the face resonate nicely into the hands without vibration. Even slightly off-centre hits do not feel too jarring, although ball speeds will drop accordingly as you hit the ball further toward the heel or toe.
Technically the company calls this model a “Channelback” – saying they have left enough mass to have a blade-like feel but moved it around to provide some extra stability. It showed as strikes off-centre were not punished, flight-wise, as much as I would have expected.
Blades are generally addictive in the feel they provide. A centre hit can provide a powerful feeling and the MP-5 serves that up in spades. They feel EXCEPTIONAL on good hits. So much so they charm you into think you might be able to play them all the time. Mizuno has always had great forgings (they use what they call a Grain-Flow Forging on 1025 carbon steel) and the MP-5 is consistent with that heritage.
If you hit the ball with a lot of clubhead speed and in the centre of the face, go right ahead, but like any club of this design, if you don’t you’ll be giving up some performance. Mind you, not as much as is the previous Mizuno blade, the MP-4.
Of note (compared to new partial cavity Mizuno MP-25 model) the MP-5 serves up slightly lower launch angles and ball speeds. And when I say slight I mean a 2.5% drop in distance because of these factors.
For reference, on a 5 iron (27 degree loft) strike where I averaged 200 yards with the MP-25 a similar strike at the same clubhead speed would result in a 195-yard shot with the MP-5. Smash factor (ball speed divided by the clubhead speed – showing efficiency of energy transfer to the ball) was slightly lower with a lower launch (approximately 1-2 degrees) that results in the distance (carry mostly) change.
If you prefer to vary your ball trajectory by varying strike on the club-face, this is your Mizuno model of choice.
The MP-5 provide a Mizuno familiarity but in a blade style that is not as stern as many you will find. I’ll call it a “blade on training wheels” with all the elements of quality you would expect from a top end product.
It’s a blade, for sure, but one even aspirational players might get away with playing if they are willing to give up a little ball speed and trajectory in return for dead sexy looks and a magical feel that will linger with you long after the ball leaves the club face.
At $1199.00 (CDN) for 8 irons with steel shafts the pricing is attractive in a market where the price for irons at this level is rising rapidly. There is NO upcharge for custom steel shafts or grips as well, allowing the player who discovers (through custom fitting) that they have more particular needs won’t be punished at the cash register.
The previous Mizuno blade, the MP-4, had an equally attractive look and feel but the MP-5 is a friendlier make-up that requires less precision.
And that is always welcome, even among the best players in the world.