Mizuno irons are held in about as high a regard as you can find. Each one of their forged weapons exude a quiet quality that many brands would sell their souls to achieve . Even their choice of marquee player – Luke Donald – emphasizes the image that Mizuno may be that little bit more elegant, a little bit more classy than the other big brands.
The trouble is, this approach just does not work with drivers. Drivers are loud and brash with the adverts noisily claiming that this driver is the one that will add 20 or 30 yards off the tee or that they will straighten out your crooked drives and keep you on the fairway. With a few honorable exceptions Mizuno’s drivers and fairway woods have historically been given short shrift by most golfers. Despite the classic good looks that they have all seemed to have, they just seem to have been that bit behind the best drivers in terms of distance, dispersion, sound and probably most important of all, word-of-mouth. The MX-700 range is Mizuno’s attempt to crack not just the game improvement market but in fact all handicaps, and Bag Chatter got to try the driver, fairway wood and the hybrid.
The MX-700 range sees Mizuno drop the conservative blue color scheme for a more aggressive yellow and enter the world of the pumped up, big banging sticks that are modern drivers and woods and Mizuno had this to say about their new clubs:
‘The new Hot Metal MX-700 utilizes a new rolled Ti9 plasma welded face to advance driving distance, stability and feedback. The Ti9 Hot Metal adds ball speed across the clubface through its unique aligned grain structure -expanding the high COR area for consistently long drives. A broad, wide geometry (allowed by Ti9’s weight saving) provides an extremely low and deep COG and a centrally located sweet spot for enhanced vertical stability. Resulting in low spin and a high, penetrating ball flight. A vibration dampening internal hull adds a solid, powerful sensation at impact.’
MX-700 Driver sole
MX-700 Driver address
MX-700 Driver face-on
‘The MX-700 brings Hot Metal performance to the fairway with a new ES230 steel face. An extreme light-weight plasma welded ES230 steel face increases COR for higher ball speeds, maximum energy transfer and increased strike range from the fairway. Weight saved from the ES230 steel face also allows an increased crown width – optimising the COR effect and encouraging use from the tee as a genuine driver alternative.’
MX-700 Fairway Sole
MX-700 Fairway Face
MX-700 Fairway Address
‘The MX-700’s Hot Metal ES230 steel face creates Mizuno’s most powerful ever hybrid. The ultra-light ES230 steel face is plasma welded to a 4-31 stainless steel body, creating a highly responsive clubhead – for increased strike range from the fairway. A “Drop Down Crown” shifts weight lower within the head for an easy launch from any lie.’
MX-700 Hybrid Sole
MX-700 Hybrid Face
MX-700 Hybrid Address
MX-700 Hybrid Three-Quarter view showing scalloped crown
Moving away from the the blue color scheme that has become almost synonymous with their brand will startle some people but the inner marketing man in me sees this as a smart move by Mizuno as they have created a clean slate to try and win back golfers who have ignored their woods in the past. The graphics on the crown do a good job of making the Driver and fairway wood look smaller at address as it shades away the large footprint of these clubs.
The MX-700 Driver is slightly shallower faced as well as being slightly longer from front to back than it’s predecessor (the MX-560) but looks much better at address. The 9.5 is dead square and the new crown graphics are not distracting at all but actually help frame the ball.
The fairway wood is quite large for this type of club but not unwieldy and makes a shallow faced wood look pretty sharp – and this is coming from someone that has a general dislike for larger headed fairway woods. The scooped crown of the hybrid is reminiscent of the halo hybrids from Cleveland but the previous iteration of hybrids from Mizuno, the MX Fli-Hi also had the same feature.
I should make a quick mention of the headcovers. Not only are they striking looking but they made from top quality material and they are actually easy to take on and off as they are classic sock type headcovers. Somewhat of a rarity with modern drivers and it’s a pleasure not to have to deal with velcro and ridiculous shaft clips 6 or 7 times a round.
With the aligned grains of the Ti9 titanium plasma welded face the driver is as hot as you hope. The feel at impact is pure top quality. The sound is thankfully quieter than the MX-560 but while there’s no chance of ending up deafened, the ringing rifle-like crack is a indication that the ball is going a long long way. Mishits are felt but shots off the heel or toe are evened out by the internal dampening hull and the high MOI.
The fairway feels nice and solid, most probably due to the all steel construction and the ‘Hot Metal’ technology and feels well balanced through the swing. The hybrid is lighter than the fairway but still has a powerful sense of location at impact and with the right shaft feels forgiving as a long iron replacement.
The Driver recently scored a Silver award in the Golf Digest Hot List which would normally be a reason for celebration for a company that isn’t reknown for making driver but is actually a little bizzare given that their testers rated the MX-700 the highest ranked driver for launch angle and spin rate across any price point – obviously the performance criteria was not given enough weight in their eyes. The high launch/low spin combination is obvious after your first swing as you boom the ball down the fairway. The high MOI ensures that the club has sufficient forgiveness to deal with any less than perfect strikes and the sound is a hot-sounding crack than is a world away from the ear-splitting noise of the previous generation. What is most impressive about the Driver is that it manages to keep the balance of launch angle and spin at pretty much any swing speed. Mizuno state that this club is suitable for any level of golfer and for the first time I might just believe that a driver can do this. Slower swing speeds do very well as the high launch angle maxmizes distance but the low spin means that even very fast swing speeds will not see the ball ballooning. Of course, getting the right shaft for the swing speed is vitally important so it is good to see Mizuno offering so many shaft options – the majority from Aldila and Grafalloy – so that almost all players can be catered for.
The fairway wood is a completely different kettle of fish – the wide and shallow face give away that the natural ball flight is high and straight and you aren’t disappointed. What you can’t tell from appearances is how straight this club is. To say that it is ferociously straight is selling it short as this is a club that really tries to keep your shots on the short stuff. This is an ideal club for high to mid handicappers as the spin levels are ideal for low to mid level speed swings. Lower handicappers are likely not to be sold on it as the spin levels to keep the ball so straight start to climb with swing speed so distance is not maximized – this is a club that empahsizes striaghtness over workability. It is great off the tee but this is a club that is perfect for players who often play woods or hybrids into greens as the larger size is very reassuring at address either on the tee or on the fairway. The sole deals very well when the ball is sitting up in light rough but the the size of the head means that hitting it out of anything heavier than that is a bit of a challenge.
The hybrid sees the MX-700 move back towards both the better player and the average golfer. The ‘Drop-down crown’ means that the COG is ideally placed for a high, powerful ball flight. It’s a pity that only 3 shafts are being offered with the hybrid but the good news for better players is that the perennial Tour favorite NV Hybrid shaft is one of the options. The hosel allows +/-2 degrees of lie adjustment so that it can match the exact lie of the irons that it replaces which is a great touch. With the increase of lower lofted hybrids to replace fairway woods, hybrid performance is not just as a direct replacement for long irons where they have to be easy to elevate and better out of more varied lies but also be able to generate the distance that you would associate with fairway woods. The MX-700 hybrid does a great job at at both, it gets the ball up the air and hits it a long way. While it’s certainly no slouch, it’s difficult to see if it can distinguish itself in a world dominated by hybrids from the likes of Adams and TaylorMade.
The MX-700 series may be the clubs that see Mizuno taken seriously in the Driver and Fairway wood sector again. While it’s a pity that there is no interchangable shaft option, these clubs are high-tech clubs that offer real performance. The MX-700 driver is a stunning all rounder that can cope with one of the widest ranges of swing speeds and has the ability to produce serious distance with great forgiveness. The nearest comparison I could make with this Driver would be how the Ping G10 took both the industry and golfers in general by surprise with its combination of performance and forgiveness but it may be that the MX-700 is actually a cut above that. Word that Mizuno Europe have actually sold out the first batch with all and sundry knocking down their door to try it. They’ve been left busy filling a backlog of orders which shows that even they have been surprised by how good this club is.
The fairway wood offers the vast majority of golfers both a great option from the tee and an easy-to-elevate green-finding distance machine from the fairway while the hybrid is a solid example for those that are looking for a more versatile replacement for their long irons as well as a more controllable option than a higher fairway wood. While these two clubs are excellent performers, it is the Driver that undoubtedly steals the show.
The MX-700 range is easily Mizuno’s best and most versatile range accommodating a full range of players and they might be the clubs that make people believe that Mizuno make more than just irons.