Mizuno’s MP-18 irons are one of the most beautiful irons on the market. We tested them to see if their function lived up to their form.
TESTED BY: Jimmy Emanuel, Golf Australia Writer (GA Handicap 9.4)
COST: $249.00 per iron.
MODEL PLAYED: MP-18 3-iron to Pitching Wedge, fitted with Dynamic Gold S300 shafts.
FIRST IMPRESSIONS: Absolutely pure.
Even after a long time in the golf industry I still get excited to open a box to get my first look at new clubs. But the combination of being a lover of all things blade irons as well as the preceding reputation and classic looks of the MP-18, took this feeling to a whole other level.
The simple, understated appearance of the back of the iron looks great in the bag. While the satin chrome finish and clean, squarer lines than on other recent Mizuno irons, give the MP-18s an almost perfect look at address for mine.
I am very particular about the look of pitching wedges and often replace them with speciality wedges. But the set’s smaller pitching wedge, a result of the work of the company’s master craftsmen, is the best looking wedge I have seen in a Mizuno set. And I have had a few.
My first strike with the irons didn’t disappoint either, with the MP-18 possessing the soft but solid feel expected of a Mizuno blade iron.
HOW IT PERFORMED: On the whole, the
MP-18s performed exactly as expected of a blade iron from a company known for its forged irons, with the long irons delivering the biggest surprise through an unexpected amount of forgiveness.
The ball flights throughout the set on stock swings was a little lower than my own irons – although the difference could be partially put down to different shafts. While working the ball left and right as well as high and low was easy to achieve, thanks to the minimal amount offset, which looked almost non-existent at address.
When working on different flights with the MP-18s, I had the most success, and fun, hitting knockdown shots that seemed to really bore through the wind, almost unaffected at times.
Despite the lower flight, the distances of each iron were in line with those of my own set and were nicely spaced between each iron – which was particularly noticeable in the long irons where older model blade irons always tended to get a little close together for me.
Having opted for more forgiving cavity back irons and driving irons in my own set in recent years, I was a little tentative to hit too many shots with the 3- and 4-irons from the MP-18s, which could easily be described as ‘butter knives’. But I was pleasantly surprised by their forgiveness, which made them quickly become among my favourite clubs in the set, particularly when a low, driving iron was needed from the tee of a short par-4.
The need for a little help and inconsistency of my play these days, however, means that I would still opt for one of the more forgiving MP-18 iron models in the long clubs if I was to invest in my own set.
The forgiveness throughout the entire set is improved on older model blade irons, with slight mis-hits still flying relatively on line and carrying just short of a good strike.
Make no mistake, however. Misses located significantly away from the sweet spot – while lacking the jarring feeling of blade models of the past that goes through to your bones – still experience a large drop in carry distance and accuracy.
Apart from the expected lack of forgiveness compared to a game improvement iron, the only slight negative I could find in the performance of the MP-18s is one that can largely be put down to my own swing faults, which typically steer me towards iron models with a little more bounce on the sole. The squarer leading edge seemed to dig for me, especially on some slightly damp fairways, causing me to take longer and deeper divots than normal. Although this same characteristic did have an upside, with the square leading edge making the MP-18s exceptional for playing bump and runs in firm conditions.
With their classic looks and traditional blade iron performance, the MP-18s have endless appeal for better players who value working the ball and appearance above ease of use.
The MP-18s’ increase in forgiveness on older blades, also means that those who want to stretch their game a little and include some short irons in a combo set with cavity backs the rest of the way, should have no problems.
And players like myself, who allow themselves to think back to days gone by of higher quality ball striking and insist on continuing to use blade irons, will see the benefits in their scores thanks to the slightly less dramatic effect of small mis-hits.
But beware, they are still blades. And putting all ego aside, would perhaps best form part of a mixed set for all but the very best ball strikers.
FACTS AND FIGURES
SUITABILITY: Like all blade iron models, the MP-18 is for golfers who hit the centre of the clubface regularly and lower handicap players looking for complete ball flight control rather than increased forgiveness.
MODELS: In addition to the classic muscleback, the MP-18 range includes two other iron models (MP-18 SC and MP-18 MMC) offering increased forgiveness with a traditional players’ look and feel. While the MP-18 MMC Fli-Hi long-iron replacement rounds out the range.
SHAFTS: Mizuno offers a wide range of shafts in the MP-18s. The company’s ‘Shaft Optimizer’ and ‘Swing DNA’ software work together to recommend a number of shafts from its fitting matrix based on a number of characteristics of each player’s individual swing.
LEFT-HANDED: Not available.
MIZUNO SAYS: Refined by Mizuno’s master craftsmen in Yoro, Japan, the three MP-18 models are inspired by every great player to pure a Mizuno iron since 1933. They are designed to mix and match within a custom set to find the artist in every player.
The master mould of every head is checked and adapted to the satisfaction of the company’s most experienced clubmakers – including the legendary Turbo.
Sculpted by the Yoro master craftsmen, the MP-18 is a throwback to the muscle-backs of Mizuno’s past.
A shorter blade length, cambered top line and steep progression into a sharp, compact wedge are the marks of the master clubmakers – who honed their skills on the irons of major winners.
The MP-18s are ‘Grain Flow Forged’ in Hiroshima Japan for the most colourful feedback imaginable.
For more information visit www.mizuno.com.au or call 1300 796 457.