GolfWRX and Mizuno deserve a bunch of thanks for allowing me to play and review a bit more than I thought. Mizuno was gracious enough to review not only their JPX 800 HD irons, but also their JPX wedge set and the JPX Fli-Hi Direct Long Iron Replacements (DLR) and the Shaft Optimizer process. A special thanks to Mason Wolf, the Mizuno fitter that took the time to not only show me all the products, but explained what each was designed to do.
42 y/o (still) balding male! I’ve been able to get my handicap down to almost a 20, but short game holds me back from making a true breakthrough. I’ve played the Mizuno MX-200, -300 and -900 models within the brand in the past. I’ve played two full rounds and a 9-hole session with these clubs in between rainstorms!
What I tested: Mizuno JPX 800 HD, 3-4 DLR, 5-PW (+1 inch, 2 degrees up), JPX Wedges (+1 inch, 1 degree up), Project X 5.0 graphite
Irons: Very forgiving irons. You get plenty of confidence when you set up knowing you get plenty of help getting the ball in the air. Plenty of offset, but not as much as others within the category, which was nice.
DLR: (If I call them hybrids, please forgive me, because these are NOT considered hybrids by Mizuno.) These are probably the best part of the set. Very versatile knowing you are getting to finally hit a hybrid that acts and feels like an iron. Not a huge amount of offset, but just enough. Consistent distance.
Wedges: Plenty of bite on the wedges. (I wasn’t expecting that). A large and forgiving design that bails you out on shots from 100 yards and in if your contact is less than perfect. You can hit it all over the face and still get decent results.
NOTE: SUPER PRO: I was fit on a Sunday morning. Order turned in on Monday night. Box at my door on Thursday afternoon. I have never, EVER, had that happen. THAT’S SERVICE, FRIENDS!!
Irons: Hard to get creative on bump and run shots near the green because of the wide sole. I know they’re cast irons, but I expected a bit softer being from Mizuno.
Hybrids: Honestly…none. And that’s saying something.
Wedges: Hard to get touch with them around the greens at first for pitches and chips. It felt a touch harsh.
A great effort for a company known more for their players irons than for us high-cappers. They give plenty of help where most of us need it, and that should be welcome for those who need it.
I’ll start with Shaft Optimizer.
The fitting itself was predicated on taking swings with the small attachment on a blade-like iron. Whether you make solid contact is not important, but on how you load and release the shaft. It gives you your swing speed with that iron, but more importantly the corresponding code that tells the fitter which shaft best suits your swing. After 5 swings, that was it. It gives you not only steel options, but graphite options as well. This is where you need to check your ego at the door. Even though you may have used X100s for years, it tells you what best suits you. In my case, since I was graphite iron user, I was “expecting” Project X Graphite 6.0 shafts at least. Not so. My swing fit best into the 5.0s and the Fujikura Orochi Soft Regular. Initially, I scoffed at that, but as the session wore on when testing the shafts, it made sense and grew more comfortable with the options and got confident that the numbers were pretty spot-on. As I put them into play, I knew the recommendation was correct. Again, check your ego at the door and keep an open mind. Because remember, it’s telling you what you’re doing.
Shaft optimizer review: 5/5 stars
Performance/Playability: 4.5/5 stars
Having used the brand in the past, I was fairly familiar with the product. When I looked down at the irons, I saw a large club that you knew that was there to help the higher handicap golfer get the ball in the air. The user of this stick wants to get the ball up and out. No working the ball. Once you get used to the club, you’ll know where you should set up to have it perform to what you might expect. The shots were consistent and results as expected. When struck, I got a high-towering shot that landed softly with some roll. Carry distance was the word of the day. I was pleased with the results, all due to an accurate fitting. Specialty shots were more of a challenge because of the wide sole (i.e. 7-iron bump and run shots). Not impossible, but you’ll need a bit more touch to counter the sole, but the results were above average.
Iron rating: 4.5/5
Before the fitting I had never heard of the JPX wedge series. They’re for someone who’s looking for a forgiving wedge design that performs somewhat like it has a cavity. The wedges get good spin on the ball to stop a ball on the green and to get it to check up nicely. You can open it and close it fairly well with some practice, but it is somewhat limited when you try to get too cute with it. If it had more shotmaking options, it would be a more premier wedge and priced accordingly. I was not unhappy with it, but it just took more time to get the feel of it and how to play it. But for what it is, it’s very good.
Wedge rating: 4.5/5
The DLR was actually the star of the set, in my opinion. I took 3 and 4 iron shots off the tee just because I could to see what they would do. They didn’t fly as high as a true hybrid did, but the fact that it acted like an iron was tremendous. Not only was it easier to hit with the extra mass behind it, it landed soft and I got predictable distance without an insane amount of roll, but it did roll. You’re actually using the next length of iron in the same shaft. So if you were fit, for example, S300 shafts, you’d have an S300 shaft in the DLRs. I thought, “What a novel idea. Why doesn’t everyone do this as part of a standard set?” I was very pleased. The amount of offset was “just enough.” Remember, it’s supposed to be an iron. I really liked the idea and the execution, but especially the forgiveness. You get longer results because of more carry distance. There is a Par 3 on the course I play at (202 yards) from the whites. I’ve never hit this green. I teed up the 4 DLR and let it fly. It landed softly on the green, leaving myself with a 20-foot uphill putt (which I promptly three putted).
Hybrid (DLR) rating: 5/5 stars
Feel/Sound: 4/5 stars
You think soft, you think Mizuno. Well, the irons, wedges and DLR’s weren’t that soft. They weren’t bad (they are cast), but they’re not really that soft: Merely average in this department. This is not a slight in any way because they’re not a forged set. You can tell where you hit it though, which was a bonus, even on the DLRs, so you get some feedback, which is always welcome. The sound was very good. It sounded like I expected.
Overall impressions: 4.5/5 stars
Mizuno did very well with these. I felt after playing these for 27 holes that while they want you to have success and fun with these irons, they don’t want you to stay there. I think this might be true of any company, but Mizuno goes to great lengths to make sure you get into the iron you want to use and eventually grow into their MP series. But it all starts with the shaft. If you’re fit for a shaft, that can translate to any iron in their arsenal. So if I decide to go crazy and want to try an MP-53 or even the MP-59, I know what shaft I need before I even get started with another fitting within their stable of shaft options. Shaft Optimizer can confirm it, or if I get stronger, it will give me more choices.
The irons are a worth a strong look if you need help getting the ball into the air and keeping the ball into play. Bring some semblance of a swing, because these won’t fix you. These will definitely help eliminate your bad side of the fairway. The wedges are more than serviceable and give plenty of help for the average golfer to be successful. The DLRs absolutely make the set worth of purchase. They will help bring your long game back, or develop one. Master these, and these will help bring long Par 4’s and Par 5’s a bit closer for a good pitch shot, or dare I say it, in two.