The Big Review – Mizuno MP-58 irons, MP T-10 wedges, MP Fli-Hi iron
It could be argued that there are irons and there are Mizuno irons. No other manufacturer has had quite the success and pedigree that Mizuno has had across the entire range of this type of club. From the MP players range to the game improvement MX range, there has always been something to make a golfer's hands itch with desire.
The shining lights of Mizuno's range has always been the blade market. The MP-14, MP-29, MP-33 and MP-32 are rightly considered classics of their time and while it's too early to comment on the new MP-68, the fact 80% of the Tour staff prefer it to the MP-33 can only be a positive.
Frankly, nobody need any encouragement to buy Mizuno blades, especially when they are available in finishes like the current black nickel but the reality is that only a tiny percentage of all golfers have the skill to play irons like the MP-68. The trouble is that once you've pured one out of a blade's sweetspot you'd sell your granny to feel that sensation again. There is literally nothing in the golfing world to match it. So is it possible to match the feel of a blade with the forgiveness of a cavity back? Mizuno have tried to show that it is with the MP-58. Alongside these irons are the MP T-10 wedges, Mizuno's last wedges that will have the aggressive grooves that we have become used to and the new MP Fli-Hi, a direct long-iron replacement (DLR) club that is designed to make the long irons as easy to use as possible but without looking too different from the MP iron that it would replace.
Featuring the same dual muscle technology as the 68's the MP-58's have seen Mizuno bringing multi-material technology into the MP range. Every previous iron in the MP range has been made from a single billet of steel but the MP-58 combines the soft 1025E carbon steel with a titanium insert.
For a company known for their forging, Mizuno might be seen to be taking a healthy risk by doing this but have offset this by the way that they forged the two together. The 11g gram titanium muscle piece is brought together with the pure select mild carbon steel head while they are both red hot from the first forging process and then forged together yet again. The result is that the titanium is bonded to the head far more strongly than it otherwise could be. Because of this the MP-58 is designed to offer shot-makers a club that is more forgiving that the 62 and more workable than the 52 but keeping the thickness behind the ball that contributes so heavily to the sound and feel.
MP-T10 Wedge showing 360 grind across the back section
The MP T-10 wedges follow on from the successful MP-R and MP-T wedges. These versions add new QUAD CUT GROOVE technology to their characteristic grain flow forging. Slightly smaller than the previous generation, they have a face that is distinctly thicker but have a 360 degree grind that adds great versatility to the sole and thins the appearance of the topline.
The MP Fli-Hi brings the Hot Plasma technology seen in the MX-700 driver and fairways and the new MX-1000 super game improvement irons. Despite this extra help, the profile is designed specifically to fit into a bag of MP series irons without looking too dissimilar.
MP Fli-Hi 3 iron replacement
Held in the hand, you can see that Mizuno have not lost their touch. Making stunning looking blades seems to be child's play for them but how were they going to create what is effectively a cavity back without just recreating the previous generations like the MP-60 and MP-57. The answer is that they turned to technology to keep the look as similar to a cavity-blade like the MP-62 but without losing the performance of a full cavity and you can see the result below .
MP-58 7 iron showing the dual muscle and narrow sole
The MP T-10 have to be the best looking wedges that Mizuno have ever made. The head shape and size, the grind across both the sole and the back and the different finish, the designers haven't missed a trick. We've seen a similar grind to the 360 on Chikara wedges and the head seems to be a more compact version of the MP-T but the overall look is stunning, especially in the raw black satin finish.
MP T-10 wedges – top to bottom 64/07, 58/10, 50/06
The premise behind the MP Fli-Hi is simple; even for the better players, the 3 and 4 irons are unforgiving enough to cause them to leak shots. The obvious solution is to replace these irons with irons with clubs from more game improvement but that normally means an iron with a larger head, much thicker topline and a much larger offset. As you can see from the picture below the MP Fli-Hi bridges that gap by bringing the forgiveness and performance of the MX-1000 clubs into a head with a profile much closer to the MP line – smaller from heel to toe, thinner top line and more importantly, and offset not too dissimilar to the MP series irons.
3 iron comparison: left MP-62, middle MP-58, right MP Fli-Hi
While they don't have the meaty feel of the MP-62 or the buttery soft contact of the MP-68, the 58's are so close it's not funny. Yes, there is always going to be a difference with a cavity versus a blade but this is reduced to a level that even the blade snobs will have to at least consider these. The real difference is how these feel on mishits. Heel, toe and thins are dealt with far far better than the above mentioned clubs and while you're never going to get that 'my-god-what-was-that' on a pure flush you are flattered far more when you hit it less than perfect.
One of the differences with build of this wedge is that the blade is much thicker than normal. This has a direct effect on the feel as it makes the strike much more solid without losing that trademark soft feel. What you find is a impact that is firmer without being clicky. The grind makes for superb turf interaction too.
With the Fli-Hi, you would expect some loss of feel in comparison to the forged irons and that's what you get but it's not bad at all. While it feels muted, the sound you get is like the 'crack' of an old school driver.
The MP-58 make perfect sense when you play them. They hit the ball slightly higher than their stablemates the 68's and 62's and are noticeably more forgiving without having much more offset or a thicker sole. That tiny amount that you give up in feel you more than make up in performance. The neutral flight means there's no bias for fades or draws and the spin levels are again what you would expect being slightly more than the 62's. The review set had KBS Tours in them which was a great match for these heads as they threw up a high trajectory flight without too much spin but with a far greater level of feel and forgiveness than Project X. KBS Tours have a different feel through the swing too as they somehow feel lighter on the downswing than you expect but they perform brilliantly in these heads and it's easy to see why they have made such gains on the big tours.
The shape of the sole is very similar to the MP-62's which were based on Luke Donald's personal grind. This grind has a a rolling leading edge along with a rolled trailing edge. This makes the club versatile enough to suit both diggers and pickers.
The MP T10 wedges produce great performance on greenside shots but they are also some of the best wedges I've ever come across for fuller shots. Mizuno have especially highlighted their performance on the shorter shots and their increased spin compared to previous generations and combined with the new shaping they have a real effect. While turf interaction is a very personal issue depending on whether you are a digger or a picker, these seemed to cope with either styles of play. This model also sees the first time that Mizuno has introduced a 64 degree wedge and throwing darts with this was great fun but it is obviously a specialist club for those summer days when the greens are running lightening fast. The wedges seem to be relatively kind on the ball too – not the ball chewing monsters that I was expecting despite being able to fly the flag and drag it back.
Close-up of QUAD CUT GROOVE technology
The grooves use Mizuno's new QUAD CUT GROOVE Technology and are Mizuno's most agressive grooves. This means that for professionals playing on the top tours they will be illegal on 1st Jan 2010 but we will be able to use them until 2024. Given the research that has gone into these grooves it's a surprise that there is no face milling but that was a deliberate choice by Mizuno who told us that in all research they did with these grooves, they didn't see sufficient difference to include it. However they said that this might change when the grooves need to be conforming to the new regulations.
These wedges don't quite seem to produce the fizzing-spitting spin that you find on wedges like the Vega RAFW-05 but the spin level is plenty high and the controlability of this high spin level is stupendous. Whether you want a high floating parachute lob or a low thrown hard checker, these are hugely capable wedges and the toe and heel relief make even more shots available to you than normal.
The MP Fli-Hi does exactly what it is supposed to do with its perimeter weighting and low COG and hot face. Compared directly to any of the MP series 3 irons, it gets the ball up into the air faster, is more forgiving and hits the ball further. Trying to hit it thin or fat produces shots that are almost identical to well-struck ones and heel and toe shots produce shots that deviate minimally from the intended path. The only downside compared to standard irons is that there is some loss of precision. Distance control is not as easy and working the ball is almost impossible without resorting to fairly major swing changes but then again, that's the idea.
A tour de force across the 3 ranges, Mizuno have upheld their reputation as one of the finest makers of irons with these clubs. The MP-58 irons show that it's possible to blend technology with traditional forging without losing the elements that make forged irons so special. The MP T10 is easily Mizuno's best wedge yet and the MP Fli-Hi is a rock solid, long iron replacement that will fit in neatly to any MP range. By any reckoning, Mizuno have to be sitting happy with this release.