With a hashtag introduction to the Mizuno MP-5 of “#NothingFeelsLikeAMizuno” and tag lines of “An Icon Redefined,” intrigue for a re-design builds quite nicely. Taking the frame of a well-received MP-4 and re-introducing cut muscle in a subtle and flowing “channel back” design really begs the question of just how playable these irons can be for the golfing masses. What remains apparent, is the shiny sleek lines that are expected of a Mizuno player iron.
Out of the Box
As noted above, there is a certain expectation of a Mizuno iron in the player design. Sharp lines, shiny chrome, that thin almost italic numbering, and their logo have become a staple of what to anticipate, and the MP-5 bring all that and more. Utilizing the iron shape by placing the MP-5 stamping right on the muscle angle was the perfect placement, and the unfilled Mizuno logo either leaves a ‘garage’ look or gives golfers the chance to customize to their preference. The MP-5 irons have a fair bit more shaping on the back of the head, however it flows incredibly well.
From Mizuno: New Channel Back design. Maintains thickness behind impact for muscle back feel, but moves enough mass to create stability from off center strikes like a players’ cavity model.
While this concept is hardly brand new for Mizuno (take a look at their cut muscle in the past), they have found a very attractive way to spread the material and weight into the perimeter of the club, which inevitably improves the results on less-than-perfect iron strikes all golfers fall victim to now and again. This subtle change can account for some reasonable ball speed retention a bit lower and towards the toe of the iron, as seen during the review process in both on course and monitor testing.
With that in mind, golfers should take into consideration that while these irons bridge a rather subtle gap between a muscle back and a cavity back, this design element does drive a huge change in the suggested golfer by Mizuno. Marked on Mizuno’s handicap spectrum as 0-5 (unlike the MP-4 being 0 to 4 handicap) and this reviewer believes that is a very fair assessment of who will benefit from the MP-5 design.
What is important to acknowledge about the channel back design and material distribution is the continued look and performance of a muscle back iron. The MP-5 irons may have very slightly larger profile elements versus the Mizuno muscle backs of previous years, however they are quite subtle and really only noticeable to those who swap back and forth between the two iron designs.
From Mizuno: Grain Flow Forged – From a single billet of 1025E Pure Select Mild Carbon steel for soft, solid, consistent feel. Harmonic Impact Technology (H.I.T.) – Mizuno’s scientific technology to fine tune sound and feel.
As feel is very subjective, and can often be attributed to sound, it seemed appropriate to pair the grain flow forged material technology with the H.I.T. technology in review thoughts. What Mizuno has created with the MP-5 (and many of their irons of the past) is a sound that is near perfection for an iron when struck on the center of the face. There is something incredibly intoxicating about center face strikes that urges the golfer to continue playing simply to hear it again. The ball seems to melt on the center of the face, and the lively departure alongside ideal flighting and distance provide feedback suggesting near perfection.
While there is a fantastic contact experience on the center of the face, like most muscle back irons, loss in sound and vibration quality is experienced when the contact area is away from the middle of the grooved face. This margin for area may certainly be increased by comparison to a pure muscle back, however golfers who seek a higher level of forgiveness across the face, and a sound that is more consistent across the face, may want to pursue the Mizuno MP-15 or MP-25 in their demoing.
With that in mind, Mizuno has produced irons that really drive the golfer to make great strikes on the golf ball in order to recreate the perfect contact sound. It is unmistakable and during testing, provided extremely positive feedback and results.
From Mizuno: IQ Sole – Innovative Quickness(IQ) – Stud configuration designed to reinforce traction with arch support ribs to enhance smooth weight shift & acceleration. Flex groove designed for acceleration and improved torsion flexibility.
This design element was one of the least visible innovations built into the MP-5, and not surprisingly, made it very difficult to discern how the IQ Sole improved the overall iron build. The sole of the MP-5 seems to be a very traditional Mizuno design, with a relatively aggressive leading edge that did decent turf damage during testing. Unlike some of the other manufacturers building a transitional muscle back with who cut away some of the leading edge of the sole, Mizuno retained that sharp leading edge that will allow golfers to drive into the turf without much resistance.
The overall performance of the MP-5 iron was very predictable in a positive way. During testing, there was very little learning curve before balls could be worked left and right in a predictable flight. Much of the same can be said about flighting lower and higher depending on the situation. As many muscle back irons would lead us to expect, the results of the Mizuno MP-5 irons were heavily dictated by the swing quality.
One notable element during monitor testing was a reasonable amount of ball speed and distance retention off thinned shots, as well as shots coming on the toe side of center. The amount of distance increases as the contact departs the center of the face, however it isn’t wildly punishing when the miss is only marginal. This allows golfers to make very marginal mistakes they can recover from with their next shot, and in some cases still got the ball to the intended target.
The lofts of the irons promoted predictable distances and gap well from traditional wedge designs. The pairing of the DG S300 shaft provides a great weight balance between the head and the grip, leaving very few shots promoting poor timing. Additionally, the pairing of the Golf Pride multi-compound grip promotes excellent feedback in an all-weather package that allows vibrations from the strike to be felt easily and clearly by the hands.
For Mizuno, having the ability to bridge the gap between MB and CB, CB and GI, and GI to SGI is a great testament to their manufacturing and understanding of today’s golfer. The MP-5 provided a great reminder of why they promote 0-5 on the handicap spectrum, but also showed that a pure muscle back may not be required to enjoy that ‘bladed’ level of feedback that many provide with grain flow forged steel. For more information on the Mizuno MP-5, visit www.MizunoUSA.com.