Mizuno MP-18 Irons Revealed - The long-awaited Mizuno MP-18 iron family has been revealed, blending craftsmanship and art with technology for the better player
Mizuno MP-18 Irons Revealed
We’ve seen teasers online, even players winning tour events using them. Now, finally, full details of the new Mizuno MP-18 irons have been revealed and the story behind the concept is a fascinating one
There are four new irons in the MP-18 iron line-up if you include the Fli-Hi model, which comes in 2-6-iron, all benefitting from Mizuno’s long-standing heritage in craftsmanship and expertise when it comes to making forged ‘players’ golf clubs’.
MP-18 – RRP £135 per club (RH only)
It all started with the blade, which takes great influence from one of Mizuno’s most experienced master craftsman or ‘Meister’ – a man called Turbo – who shaped and ground the original, designed in the Yuro factory based on his years of work with Sir Nick Faldo. Mizuno then scanned the end result and the MP-18 blades were born.
A true throwback to the musclebacks of Mizuno’s past, it has a shorter blade length, cambered top line and steep progression into sharp, compact wedges.
“We significantly shifted the balance of science and art with the MP-18s,” says Chris Voshall, Senior Club Engineer. “You can instantly notice a greater input from the master craftsmen in that the MP-18 is more like the blades that made Mizuno famous – just more precise in its flow and manufacturing. At impact, this is just about perfection.”
The MP-18 irons should boast an even softer feel thanks to an evolved Grain Flow Forged HD (High Density) process that concentrates the grain in those billets more tightly for more precise feedback.
The shorter blade length and low heel profile carry over from previous Major-winning iron models, while the ultra-thin topline has been further refined with an additional camber. The scoring clubs from #7 to pitching wedge then boast a progressively smaller, more sharply refined head.
MP-18 SC – RRP £135 per club (RH and LH)
The MP-18 SC (Split Cavity) model is a compact cavity back. The slightly wider, cambered sole brings a greater degree of playability than the muscle-back, although thin, tapered top lines, short head lengths and smaller wedges mean this is still very much a tour-ready iron.
They are also forged using the same Grain Flow Forged HD process from a single billet of 1025 E Pure Select mild carbon steel as the muscle-back, to maintain the incredibly soft feel.
Compared to the MP-18 muscle-back, the heads are just 0.5mm taller and the top lines just 1mm thicker, again with a refined camber. The pitching wedge is also smaller than the other irons in the set.
“The MP-18 SC is an iron that combines a lot of practical needs – stability, workability and softness at impact – with our craftsmen’s desire for immaculate looks over the ball,” says Voshall. “Although the sole is a little wider than the muscle-back, from every playing position, the two models blend beautifully as a mixed set. The MP-18 SC wedges don’t taper off as dramatically in size as the muscle-back, so between the two models better players will find something that suits their eye.”
MP-18 MMC – RRP £150 per club (RH only)
The MP-18 MMC (Multi Material Cavity) iron is for the ball strikers who love the latest and greatest technology. It is the fruit of a three-year project lead by Mizuno’s YORO master craftsmen to develop a highly stable, forgiving multi-metal construction iron, which also satisfied their aesthetic desires and demands at address.
Even with both lightweight titanium and heavier tungsten components sealed within its 1025E mild carbon steel head, the MP-18 MMC maintains a similar ‘tour ready’ profile and size to the MP-18 SC.
The MMC’s multi-material stability design uses lightweight Titanium (8g) and heavier Tungsten (20g) to deliver surprising off-centre performance, with the same High Density (HD) feel as the other two models. The short irons feature a dual-metal design, with the absence of the tungsten toe weight found in the longer irons keeping the scoring irons more workable.
The MP-18 MMC model features a players’ compact profile, which is similar in size to the MP-18 SC but with the added forgiveness of multi-material construction.
The MMC model will flow into any MP-18 split set, with the degree of offset carefully calculated to work equally well with a custom-built mixed set of either MP-18 and MP-18 SC, once lofts have been weakened to match either set.
MP-18 MMC Fli-Hi – RRP £150 (2-6 iron, RH only)
The MP-18 MMC Fli-Hi is the long iron replacement that offers a higher-flying option from long range with steeper landing angles. The latest Fli-Hi’s sleek new profile now envelopes a Maraging steel face, a Tungsten toe weight and an internal pocket for enhanced ball speed and ease of use.
The Fli-Hi’s Multi-Material stability design uses that Lightweight Maraging steel face and Tungsten toe weight (20g) to generate a high, stable ball flight, with the topline again a mere 1mm thicker than in the corresponding MP-18 muscle-back.
“The Fli-Hi is very much a fixture now on tour,” says Voshall. “Even the most classically minded players have converted to the #2 and #3 iron replacements. These are worlds away from heavily offset ‘game improvement’ hybrids – but much easier than a traditional long iron to flight and land in firm conditions.
The MP-18 irons will go on sale in September 2017.
GM Says – MP-18 irons review
There aren’t many golf clubs that on first look send a shiver down your spine or instantly put a smile on your face, but the MP-18 iron did it with ease, even despite images doing the rounds on social media weeks before I finally got my hands on them.
With straight lines, meticulously-shaped cambers and perfectly-softened edges in all the right places, these must be as close to the perfect looking golf club for the purist – as far removed from the modern era of Face Slots, Speed Pockets and vibration dampening badges as a club is ever likely to get.
They are, as the size suggests, for the true player. The very best of ball strikers. On the blade, there isn’t any technology here that’s going to save a miss. The MP-18 player doesn’t hit many misses.
The feel can best described as a long hit. By that, I mean the ball seems to stay on the face for an eternity. When you strike one pure from the centre, you feel nothing – like the club is an extension of your arms and you’re merely throwing a ball 170 yards with a 6-iron. The accompanying sound is muted and dull, crisp and short. Perfect.
Unsurprisingly, forgiveness doesn’t really feature here. If that’s a shock to you, perhaps the JPX900 series is more up your street. Misses felt harsh and dropped out of the sky quicker than I’m used to, but those shots are soon forgotten when you hit another out of the liquid-like sweetspot.
The MP-18 SC irons are larger, but only just – perhaps by no more than a cigarette paper. The topline and sole are definitely noticeably wider but this is still a compact, players’ iron. The feel is still soft, not quite at the MP-18 level, but very close.
The MP-18 MMC is a livelier club to hit. Off the face it feels springy, like the ball leaves it quickly, and has a louder sound to match. When you factor in the lofts are two degrees stronger (28° 6-iron compared to 30° for the MP-18 SC and MP-18), golfers will certainly get more distance and forgiveness from this club, although they’ll need to be willing to pay for it.
Finally the MP-18 MMC Fli-Hi is an excellent offering in the top end of your bag that offered me a nice penetrating flight and ample forgiveness across the face.
I like how the back edge of the sole, which is naturally visible on the lower-lofted options, is parallel to the top line, so you really don’t notice it as much as you might think.
All in all, there’s a huge amount of scope for golfers to mix and match the models within their set and the performance benefits should encourage them to do so, especially when you consider they all come under the MP-18 umbrella.
You could conceivably create a set with all four models in it, adding another level to the custom-fit experience you get with Mizuno, along with the impressive shaft optimiser and Swing D.N.A technology.
The MP-18 irons are a visual treat from every angle and while only a small percentage of golfers should seriously consider them for their bag, the rest of us can aspire to have them and many will find the larger models more playable than expected.