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One post, many questions: New Mizuno irons on the way?

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Let me start with this: I’m a massive Mizuno fan. So, when out of the blue (Mizuno Blue?), but close to “that time of year,” when new shiny things start to show up around the tours, all it took was an Instagram and Twitter post to set me into a frenzy and down a big rabbit hole. It also left me with a lot of questions, which in turn lead me to what I think are some answers.

Around 10 A.M. on June 28, two pictures appeared all over Mizuno’s social media platforms, both showing a TN87 alongside a completely blank iron head that.

  1. Looked brand new (it also has a new shorter Mizuno MP-style ferrule on it)
  2. Has zero branding or model number on it

The two clubs look almost identical in the shape, so we have that, but then a little tease in the form of a single cryptic hashtag (#Layersoffeel) had me looking and thinking deeper into what might be coming down the line.

They look very close but the one on the left appears to have different angles

The MP-18s were a huge hit for Mizuno and again cemented its place in the blade world after the ginormous success of the JPX-900 series. This was also the first time Mizuno globally branded an MP series; they used to reserve different models for the JDM market.

What made the MP-18s interesting from a technology standpoint was the introduction of the Grain Flow Forging HD process. Mizuno already had the patented Grain Flow Forging process in the bag but after years of refinement, they along with their forging partner Chuo (Chuo only forges Mizuno irons) introduced the HD (High Density) technique that gets the grain structure of the 1025 E Pure Select carbon steel tighter at the bottom of the head and in turn creates an even more solid feel. But even with the 18’s popularity, it’s time for a refresh and update of the MP line.

OK. OK, let’s hold our horses for a second, we haven’t talked about the TN-87s yet. The TN-87s are named after Tommy Nakajima, who at one point was the number one player on the Japanese PGA Tour, and if you didn’t already figure it out, was a popular Mizuno staff player. The TN-87 originally came out in 1988 and even to this day are still considered one of the best Mizuno irons of all time. Beyond Tommy, another very famous Mizuno staff player, Nick Faldo, played a set of custom blank TN-87s in 1990 to win both the Masters and Open Championship. This alone made them a popular and more sought after set.

Just how sought after you might ask?

So sought after, that in 2014 Mizuno did something that few golf companies ever do: a full re-release (no custom orders) of the TN-87s from 3-PW, AW, SW. Honestly, how freakin’ cool are these?

This is why people love blades, because a set of these in a golf bag look unreal!

So now that we are this far we have to ask, beyond that fact that Tommy and Sir Nick played them why were the TN-87s so popular? We have a couple reasons and some theories

  • First off the players that used them were in their prime: This will always lead to a demand in the market regardless of it being a blade or not.
  • Shape and sole: For a lot of players the TN87 represented the perfectly shaped iron head, from blade length to toe profile it was just “one of those clubs” that kept peoples attention. This along with the sole shape, which was considered quite modern in this era, meant a lot of people trying them out and falling in love.
  •  Copper (Wait, what? Copper?): I thought there were made from carbon steel? Yes, the raw heads are made from carbon steel, but you still need to chrome them through the electroplating process, and at the time, that also meant a copper layer between the raw steel and the chrome. This extra layer helped the chrome stick to the head during the plating process and also became a thing of legend in golf circles. Golfers clamoured for irons with copper underlay to help soften the feel and give better feedback — it’s all about frequency and sound. Even to this day there are some Japanese OEMs that talk about their copper underlay and how it improves the overall feel of the club.

Here’s what’s (maybe) going to happen…

Let’s sum this up. Now that we are inching closer to the Open Championship (the usual spot to see new Mizunos), we have these “BLANK” irons just magically show up on their social channels. They look like updated TN-87’s but they also closely resemble my personal favorite MP-37s, with the notched toe muscle (like I said I’m a fan, and collector, this gives me an excuse to show these off).

The MP-20s (blades) will closely resemble the look of the TN-87 in a modern package with the notch toe, simple muscle design, and gradually decreasing blade length into the shorter irons ala the MP-18s. Alongside this muscle shape, Mizuno will take another step back to their roots (since they now have the HD forging process) and talk more enhanced feel with the addition of a copper underlay to the new series of irons (hence the #Layersoffeel)

Could I be way off base? Potentially.

But if I know one thing it’s Mizuno iron history, and what do we know about history? It often repeats itself…

 

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Ryan Barath is a writer & the Digital Content Creation Lead for GolfWRX. He also hosts the "On Spec" Podcast on GolfWRX Radio discussing everything golf, including gear, technology, fitting, and course architecture. He is a club fitter & master club builder who has more than 16 years experience working with golfers of all skill levels, including PGA Tour professionals. He studied business and marketing at the Mohawk College in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, and is the former Build Shop Manager & Social Media Coordinator for Modern Golf. He now works independently from his home shop in Hamilton and is a member of advisory panels to a select number of golf equipment manufacturers, including True Temper. You can find Ryan on Twitter and Instagram where he's always willing to chat golf, from course architecture to physics, and share his passion for club building, and wedge grinding.

37 Comments

37 Comments

  1. S

    Jul 8, 2019 at 5:39 am

    Can’t believe Mizuno has actually picked the notched toe muscleback design for their new release. I always fantasized about MP-14 or MP-29 being returned from their glorious past and they are now making it a reality! I wonder how I would be feeling when I see them in person… The reason I got my MP-37 back in 2006 was because there were no brand-new MP-14 or MP-29 available, and they stayed in my bag ever since.

  2. Mike

    Jul 6, 2019 at 2:03 pm

    Matt Kuchar is a dbag

  3. Scott H

    Jul 5, 2019 at 11:59 am

    Looks like you were spot on. Mizuno Golf North Maerican has another #LayersOfFeel Post today showing a copper plated iron head.

  4. Z

    Jul 5, 2019 at 2:10 am

    All we ask is that it be shiny. Not this queer brushed junk, please. It ain’t Mizuno if it ain’t shiny. Leave the dull look to the Pings of the world

  5. Joe Duffer

    Jul 1, 2019 at 12:05 pm

    Tiger played a split set of Mizuno irons in 1997…

    Mizuno MP-29 (2-4; True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts), MP-14 (5-PW; True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts).

  6. eric

    Jul 1, 2019 at 11:08 am

    They’ve been using copper underlayer on their Mizuno Pro line for a long time, even the current Pro 118s have them. Just that they’re JDM only, I’m sure that layersoffeel hashtag just means they’re going to be releasing copper underlayer construction on their MP lines worldwide now and not just JDM.

  7. Z

    Jun 30, 2019 at 10:47 pm

    Can we get the 33’s a comeback? Best irons ever. Played the 4’s can’t stand them and hit the 18’s, no thanks. Still playing my trusty 33’s

  8. jagger

    Jun 30, 2019 at 8:56 am

    Take a look at the Hogan Precision blades from ’53 and ’54. Very similar designs. Love the look!

  9. Pig

    Jun 30, 2019 at 2:33 am

    I own a few sets of Mizuno’s that I absolutely love (32’s, 33’s, and 60’s). As much as I wanted to game the MP-18’s, I never could get comfortable with their thicker top line. I sure hope these new ones truly go back to their roots and have a thinner top line.

  10. rex 235

    Jun 30, 2019 at 12:50 am

    Ryan-

    At this point, let me agree with Stump.

    Actually have a LH Tsuneyuki (Tommy) Nakajima TN-87 2 iron from 30+ years ago- You can see it on a Classic Clubs thread.

    With no MP-18 MBs or 919 Tours, one doubts Mizuno will ever remake the LH TN-87 iron
    model.

    Manufacturer Remake Rule #1- NO LH forged blade models-because..”tiny”

  11. fifteenclubs

    Jun 29, 2019 at 10:39 pm

    Great article Ryan… but now if these are released I have another set of irons to buy!! Never hit the TN-87s but if they can improve on the feel of the MP-18s I’d be very impressed!

  12. Saul Carrera

    Jun 29, 2019 at 8:37 pm

    Wow those are beautiful even completely blank. I have played Mizuno since the early 1990s MP14’s and now MP4’s. Was thinking of buying the MP18’s but may habe to wait to see these new models.. WOW.. ??????????????

  13. chad

    Jun 29, 2019 at 7:55 pm

    already talked to my rep. he confirmed they have new stuff coming but couldn’t comment further. They usually release in the fall.

  14. Joe Hendricks

    Jun 29, 2019 at 7:44 pm

    I believe the TN-87 is closer in design to the Mizuno MP-29’s. I played this club in the 90’s and it was a hand forged club with a fantastic feel. I still have these in my golf room and they look identical to this proposed Mizuno Model.

    • Ted

      Jun 29, 2019 at 9:56 pm

      I agree. I got my first set of Mizuno irons in 1995 (MP 29s, 1-PW) and they are in immaculate
      condition (since I use iron covers). I also still have my 33s, 58s, 4s, 5s, JPX 900 Tours, and
      MP 18s. Sold my 37s, 67s, 68s and 69s. Wish I kept them all. It’s fun to go back and play the older
      models.

      I look forward to the next evolution !

    • Darrell Taylor

      Jun 29, 2019 at 11:49 pm

      Remember: Tiger played MP29’s in High School and College. When he turned pro, he signed with Titleist, who made him several sets of proto types. He hated them so Titleist went to Mizuno and bought “blanks”, stamped “Titleist” on the back and that is what he played until he signed with Nike. If you notice, to this day the clubs he plays closely resemble the MP29’s he grew up with.

      • Dan

        Jul 2, 2019 at 9:21 pm

        I always believed that but it wasn’t true. There was never a Mizuno iron stamped Titleist.

      • Dan

        Jul 2, 2019 at 9:29 pm

        Woods never played a Mizuno w a Titleist Stamp. That was a myth. There’s a podcast about that topic somewhere in golfWRX

      • NRJyzr

        Jul 5, 2019 at 10:01 am

        Not the Titleist / Mizuno myth again, good Lord…

        The myth should have been put to bed by the podcast with Larry Bobka; he revealed Tiger’s irons with Titleist were based on old Titleist box blades, not Mizunos.

    • Scott Hill

      Jul 1, 2019 at 2:19 pm

      They look very much like the MP-29’s and are being called MP-20’s this time around… look amazing… back to a chrome finish… thinner top line…

      Everyone who loves Mizuno blades will be extremely happy I believe they are out in September

    • Bladeguru

      Jul 5, 2019 at 7:07 pm

      That’s because the 29s were the USA release of the tn87. Same head but no copper underlay

  15. DaveyD

    Jun 29, 2019 at 7:18 pm

    My MP-18 Split Cavity clubs were true game changers for me. Should be interesting to see if Mizuno keeps the SC in the next iteration.

  16. Ivan

    Jun 29, 2019 at 5:32 pm

    Think you will find that the legendary japanese golfer you refer to in your article is actually called Tommy Nakajima. No idea who Tommy Nakashima is. First rule of journalism – check your facts and check again. Another poster has already noticed this.

    • Ben Alberstadt

      Jun 29, 2019 at 6:15 pm

      Thank you for pointing this out. The name has been corrected. As the editor, this falls on me, and I apologize for the error.

      • Gunter Eisenberg

        Jun 30, 2019 at 10:18 am

        Silly millennial…will you people ever learn?

  17. Kyle

    Jun 29, 2019 at 4:37 pm

    Been saying this for the last month or so. Titleist and absolutely no knock on them or anyone else for that matter have been posting their new stuff for pre release which is fine. I knew mizuno was crafting something tremendous for release soon and bang. Buckle your chin straps. From what I’ve been told if you thought MP 18 was tremendous what they are about to drop is simply off the charts.

  18. Josh

    Jun 29, 2019 at 4:32 pm

    Great work and speculation on this Ryan…although I’m suddenly a bit sad I sold my MP37’s to get a new set of MP57’s a while back.

  19. A.R. Perez jr.

    Jun 29, 2019 at 4:24 pm

    I played Mizunos back in the 70’s and loved them. The only problem I had was that because of the soft metal I was constantly adjusting the loft and lie. But that was ok because they are the best blades made today.Period!

  20. Jack Nash

    Jun 29, 2019 at 4:06 pm

    And here I just bought some 919’s. Good thing I can’t hit blades anymore. Pheeeewwww. That was close.

  21. Travis

    Jun 29, 2019 at 4:05 pm

    Definitely a throw back design with multi-material layers. If they basically do a complete copy of the old TN-87’s with updated branding that alone would be a huge success. Companies don’t need to always reinvent the wheel, just bring back their best designs.

  22. Carrera

    Jun 29, 2019 at 4:00 pm

    It is Tommy Nakajima, not Nakashima.

  23. nick

    Jun 29, 2019 at 2:29 pm

    I hope you’re right. Those are beautiful.

  24. Stump

    Jun 29, 2019 at 12:59 pm

    I HOPE Mizuno gives some blade love to us lefties this time around. They give us some nice selections, but never give us the ones I want…like the MP-18 MB and the 919 Tour.

    • John

      Jun 29, 2019 at 8:57 pm

      Based on cryptic comments on social media by mizuno, these will be available in LH. A Japanese publication also confirmed this is a prototype new iron based on the TN-87 being tested by pros in japan already. Lots to get excited about for a lefty mizuno fan like me!

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Equipment

WRX Spotted: New TaylorMade P790 UDI

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It’s Open Championship week and that means course conditions are the talk of the town. Firm, fast, and windy conditions are expected on the links of Portrush, so we will be seeing a lot of players using driving irons that they might not otherwise play with week to week on the PGA Tour.

Not only are driving irons a hot item for players, but for OEMs launching new and prototype versions including TaylorMade, which has a new P790 UDI in some bags including Mr. Tiger Woods (credit to Rob Brooks on Instagram for the spot).

Like with many clubs just being seeded to tour, we don’t have official comment from the team at TaylorMade…but, like many times before, we have a couple of ideas based off the cosmetics of what might be in store if and when this thing comes to retail.

Some history: It’s been a while since TaylorMade introduced a new UDI (Ultimate Driving Iron) to its lineup.  There was the GAPR Low, which was very UDI “like” but the UDI as a whole never had an adjustable hosel. (There were Tour Issue versions of the GAPR Lo that had a fixed hosel and no adjustability)

The original (2017) P790 UDI

The “just-spotted 2020 (?)” version

The most recent UDI was the original P-790, but this new version has some distinct differences

  • Thinner sole. Based off the pictures, this new P-790 UDI has a thinner sole with more camber to help improve turf interaction. More camber and well-utilized bounce make any club more playable in varying conditions.
  • Shorter blade length. There is no such thing as computer screen calipers but from what we can tell when comparing side by side the new version is shorter. A shorter blade length means a CG closer to the hosel and more workability.
  • Higher toe. Just like the shorter blade length, a higher toe is often more appealing to more players (better players are generally the target for these types of clubs) and what that also “potentially” does is raise the CG. A higher CG will produce lower launching shots BUT with more spin (workability). To counter act the potential extra spin loft adjustments can be made pretty easily, since loft is one of the biggest factors in creating spin.

The one thing that is harder to compared is whats going on inside of this UDI (obviously). There is a screw in the toe, so it can be assumed that there is some sort of foam or material that helps support the face and improve the acoustics of this face thin-faced iron.

Just like we wait for the first group off early Thursday morning at Portrush, we’re just going to have to wait to see what’s really going on this new UDI too.

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Forum Thread of the Day: “Tiger Woods with a new Scotty Cameron at The Open”

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Today’s Forum Thread of the Day comes from No Gimmes who was quick to spot Tiger Woods preparing for this week’s Open Championship with a new Scotty putter. Woods has also been seen warming up for this week’s event at Royal Portrush with his old faithful on the greens, but our members have been discussing the thinking behind the 15-time-major champion’s potential change, as well as the putter itself.

*Photos from Golf Central’s ‘Live From The Open’ coverage

Here are a few posts from the thread, but make sure to check out the entire discussion and have your say at the link below.

  • TheMoneyShot: “I’m really surprised he is making the switch. Let’s see if it’s in the bag come Thursday.”
  • Hedgehog: “That topline and the alignment aid and all the smooth lines, gorgeous!”
  • MuniPukeLife: “Makes sense as his trusty NP2 is super light by today’s putter standards.”

Entire Thread: “Tiger Woods with a new Scotty Cameron at The Open”

 

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Mizuno T20 wedges: Let’s get spinning

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Spin.

We’re always trying to reduce it with our driver and increase it with our wedges for maximum control, but with the rules of golf being so strict, how do actually achieve a performance gain? Simple engineering…

This is the Mizuno T20 wedge.

It’s been a few years since we have seen a T (teardrop) wedge from our friends at Mizuno, and there is good reason.

Let’ get into a quick history lesson: before the JPX900 series was introduced, Mizuno had quietly been realigning the product cycles of the MP and JPX lines. You might remember back a few years ago now before the MP18s hit the scene that there was a bit of a lull in the MP line—so much, in fact, there was even a thread here on GolfWRX asking “Is Mizuno not making MP irons anymore?”

It was a naturally curious question to a company that always had very standardized release cycles, but it was a long-term play that has paid off tremendously. We now get “T” wedges with MP irons (MP20s to be exact), and we should (from everything I know) continue to see “S” Silhouette (more rounded profile) wedges with future JPX lines.

Before we get to what’s new, how about we first talk about what will be staying the same

  • Grain Flow Forged HD – like all new Mizuno irons, the T20s are made using the same forging process to increase the density of the material in the clubhead for an improved solid feel.
  • Boron – this little element when added to the 1025e mild carbon steel used in the wedges (we’re talking trace amounts equating to 3ppm – parts per million) increases the strength of the material by 30 percent—how crazy is that for chemistry? This improves groove life and has ZERO effect on club feel.
  • Variable Width & Depth Quad Cut Grooves – Like previous T and S wedges, the T20s will have quad cut grooves that will vary in shape based on the loft of the club. Lower lofted wedges are more narrow and deeper, while higher lofted wedges are wider and more shallow since impact happens at lower speeds this increases spin consistency.
  • Same beautiful Teardrop profile from address

So what’s new?

Flow. Just like the MP20s, engineers are bringing more a more extreme CG (center of gravity) shifting philosophy, or as Mizuno explains it, increased vertical moment of inertia to the wedges. As much as you (well maybe not “you,” depending on who you are) might think “a wedge is just a wedge” and loft is the only deciding factor for spin, you couldn’t be further from the truth. By relocating the CG throughout the set and changing the sweet spot height, engineers can further alter the launch and spin precisely for each loft.

It’s about gear effect—the higher you hit above the CG the less spin the ball with have, and the closer to or lower you make impact compared to the CG the more spin you will create. Either way these are wedges, so a 50 degree, for example, is still going to spin, but it is now more controllable (think less likely to ballon or get too high on full shots). On the other side of the equation, a 60-degree wedge will allow for even MORE trajectory and spin control for the low flying quick checkers with zip.

Now about that spin.

By the Rules of Golf, you can’t make grooves sharper, you can’t increase their volume, and you can only have so much surface roughness (sorry but that old Spin Doctor wedge is HIGHLY NON-conforming). So what do you do? You change the way you think about that surface roughness…

Hydroflow Micro Grooves

Instead of traditional laser etching parallel to the grooves, Mizuno engineers took a concept from the high-performance tire world and went perpendicular to the grooves and parallel to the direction the ball moves up the face to channel moisture away. This directional tread has proven to increase spin on shots especially in conditions with moisture up to 1,200 RPM (on a 60-yard shot), that’s a very tangible number. It’s not just about spin either: the more the friction that can be created also means more control on launch angle and less of a “floating” ball flight. That’s how those low zippers keep zippin’!

Don’t think for a second that Mizuno just changed the etching and was done with it. The process went through multiple iterations to figure out how they could improve its life (beyond the boron) and the solution was to etch before the chroming process to elongate the lifespan. The other groovy take for the T20s is the actual reconfiguration of the grooves. To get the bottom groove closer to the leading edge without having it disorient the overall look of the club and making it appear that the heel or toe is thinner on one side. The lowest groove has been shortened and centered.

All of these refinements; CG, micro-grooves, and reconfigured scoring lines add up to one thing: more control and improved shotmaking with your wedges.

Finishes, specs, and grinds

The wishes of many have been answered when it comes to the T20s, there will be a RAW finish (happy dance time) along with traditional chrome and the signature blue ion. Leftys will only be able to get chrome, but all the same options will be available as far as lofts and grinds.

Coming in lofts from 46-60 degrees, the grind options progress depending on the loft and bounce. Going from full-soled in the lower lofts to more aggressive back edge, and heel-toe relief in the 60 degree. These sole shapes came directly from Mizuno’s craftsman that worked with players and prototypes to determine exactly how the bounce and sole shapes should work in harmony.

All of this has come together to create Mizuno’s finest wedge to date.

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