The Big Review – Mizuno MP-630 Driver, FAST TRACK Driver, Fairway Woods and Hybrid
The MP-630 range is the first to headline Mizuno’s Japan domestic and US / Western MP wood line at the same time. Focusing its R&D efforts into a single international line has enabled the company to launch its most player focused line of MP woods with the ultimate aim of elevating Mizuno's status across the world's tours. The range is made up of two different drivers, a range of fairway woods and topped off with a series of hybrids.
Kicking off the range is the FAST TRACK Driver. The successor to the well regarded MP-600 has a weight system that is even more adjustable. Alongside this is a stripped back lower launch lower spin version without the FAST TRACK System that is aimed squarely at the lower handicapper. The fairway woods bring Titanium power to the game and the hybrid offers more forgiveness than the comparable long iron but with the same level of shot shaping.
Make no bones about it, the entire line-up is gorgeous. Mizuno are never going to stray too far from the classic good looks that have been their hallmark and they've done themselves proud with this update. Mizuno have traditionally had a blue colour scheme but they have moved away from this and gone for a more aggressive red and black across the MP-630 series.
Both drivers look great at address with their classic shaped 445cc heads setting up fractionally open. The non FAST TRACK version has a slighter deeper face than the FAST TRACK version indicating that it is the lower spin option of the two. Glancing down at either of them you know that you are looking at a club aimed at the better player but with enough forgiveness for the rest of us.
The face of non FAST-TRACK MP-630
MP-630 FAST TRACK version on the left, non-FAST TRACK on the right
The fairway woods are very similar. The classic head shape holds a slightly open face that is pretty much perfect depth, neither too shallow or too deep, that looks equally adept on the tee or on the fairway and just the right size for workability.
The scooped crown of the hybrid has been present in Mizuno hybrids since the early days and the compact head and square face looks like it's ready for business. Again, very much the club that the better player can take advantage of.
An interesting point is that the stock Fubuki shaft looks slightly thicker than a standard 0.335" . This is an optical illusion produced by the contrast of the shaft against the crown but actually has a reassuring effect of preventing the balloon on a stick look that large headed clubs can have.
You need to bring a serious swing if you think you can play the non FAST TRACK version of the MP-630. It's possibly the lowest launching and lowest spinning club I've seen in years and you had best present the full loft to the ball if you think it's going anywhere. If you're the sort of player that hoods the face or delofts, pick the FAST TRACK version but if you're someone that has problems with spin or has trouble keeping the ball flight down that you must give this version a go. The feel at impact is very good as the head responds with a popping sound at impact.
On its standard settings the FAST TRACK version has slightly higher launch and higher spin levels than the non FAST TRACK version but that just brings it into the realm of those of us how do not have issues keeping the ball down. The FAST TRACK system allows 45 different trajectory settings so you can choose how you want the ball the zip through the sky. Masao Nagai, Director of R&D said, “The original FAST TRACK was primarily designed to impact side-spin and the lateral characteristics of ball flight. However we quickly realized that being able to adjust backspin was just as useful. We focused even more on this aspect with the new FAST TRACK – you can see by the track itself how far forward and back we can take weight from the face. The new system massively increases the potential of the MP-630 to convert extreme ball speeds into even bigger gains in driving distance.”.
As others have mentioned, moving the weights entirely to one side creates an unbalanced head that is difficult to hit but this actually shows how effective the weight shift is when you dial in the weights to your position from the 45 available. The 445 cc head has been chosen as a balance between forgiveness and controllability and they have succeeded at this. While all of us have benefited from the increased forgiveness of larger heads some of the more extraordinary shapes make for a club that doesn't always does what you want (although let's be honest, the driver seldom does what we want for us mortals) and taking one side of the course out and no longer an option. These clubs are specifically for the sort of player that wants to be able to do that. The sound from this head is slightly more muted than the non FAST TRACK version and the feel slightly quieter but it's all good.
The HOT METAL 6-4 Titanium face gives great distance from both drivers and the low spin on both versions means that you are not going to see any ballooning whatever the conditions.
The MP-630 Driver, 3 Wood and 5 Wood
With the fairway woods being made of HOT METAL Beta Ti face you'd expect them to be hotter than standard steel faces and you'd be right; the ball flies off the face. Since it's a player's club you want to be able to move the ball and absolutely you can. Titanium fairway woods have historically been more often associated with game-improvement clubs rather than the better player versions. The combination of the classic compact headshape with a titanium face has been taken by the likes of Tour Edge Exotics and turned into not just a viable option, but in the eyes of many the best option. Mizuno has followed this concept with the new fairways and the results are superb. Mizuno's internal testing saw the MP Ti carried the ball 13.6 yards further than its F-60 predecessor. Now we're all used to seeing this sort of claim with drivers, or at least we used to be before the manufacturers hit the COR limit. Mizuno have now taken the COR to the limit with these fairway woods so the titanium 5 wood goes almost as far as a steel 3 wood. Now I don't know about you but I'll take that sort of help, especially as it comes without any unwanted extra spin or compromise with trajectory.
The hybrid is again aimed at the stronger player. With its COG location producing a low spin flight that does not want to go left it is not only more forgiving than a long iron but more versatile too, especially with the curved sole making it equally easy from fairway or light rough.
Special mention should be made of the stock shaft. The made-for Fubuki feels great and plays absolutely true to flex in all clubs. In fact, unlike most made-for shafts, Mizuno actually asked for a stiffer tip than the standard Fubuki. It produces a great combination of trajectory and spin and it's a real treat to play even in the hybrid where it is less well known than in the woods.
The entire range seems to have been aimed at those who do not need any help getting the ball in the air. It's not to say that they aren't forgiving on miss hits but the emphasis is more on extreme performance and control rather than forgiveness.
Having two different versions of the driver allows golfers of any ability to find the one that's right for them. The slightly smaller head and the fact that they sit slightly open shows that they are aimed at the better player and the low spin and controlled launch shows that the aim is dead on.The fairway woods are amongst the best woods I've hit in years offering driver-like distance with control and forgiveness and the hybrid is also a cracker.
The MP-630 range are Mizuno's best yet – top marks.