Last year, I was lucky enough to be able to review both the Mizuno MP-64 and MP-H4 irons. At the time, they were Mizuno's two newest offerings in the MP line and each brought something different to the party. The 64s were all business and were a true players irons. They had a thin top line, compact head, and little in the way of forgiveness. The irons were sleek and beautiful to look at but if you missed the center of the face, they could be punishing. The H4 irons on the other hand were aimed at golfers who wanted to play an MP iron but may not have had the skill set needed to do so. While they did share the simple look of an MP iron, they carried a much larger footprint with thicker top lines and the long irons had more of a hybrid appearance. Forgiving they were, and while they had the soft forged feeling one has come to expect from a Mizuno MP iron, there was just something a little off about them. Enter the newest MP iron, the MP-54.
With the MP-54, Mizuno has crafted an iron that falls nicely in between their two previous sets. They aren't quite as small as the MP-64 irons, but the slightly larger size along with some new design features means that they aren't as punishing either. The previous MP-H4 irons probably offered just a little bit more forgiveness, but not by much. Does Mizuno finally have the best of both worlds with the MP-54 irons? Read on to find out.
For the purpose of this review, I received the standard 3-PW set of the Mizuno MP-54 irons. The set came stock with the Dynamic Gold S300 shafts and the standard Mizuno M-31 grips (a Golf Pride Tour Velvet with the Mizuno logo). Over the years, I've had many sets of clubs ith the S300 shafts, and and find that they fit my game well. The S300s were also in my set of Mizuno MP-H4 irons.
For those interested, Mizuno offers an array of custom shaft options ranging from the lighter weight Dynamic Gold XP to Project X and KBS tour shafts. The bottom line is that they should have a shaft that fits you available. Custom grips are also available. In addition to this, custom set make ups are also available, so if you'd rather have the MP-H4 as long iron replacements or something like that, that is certainly an option.
Design and Technology
Maybe more than any other golf equipment company, Mizuno is known for making sleek and simple designs. The MP-54 irons are no exception to this, although that doesn't mean that there isn't some good technology packed into these clubs. To start, like all of the irons in the MP series, these clubs are forged from soft 1025E mild carbon steel using Mizuno's renowned Grain Flow Forging process. This process, coupled with a step muscle design that puts additional thickness behind the sweet spot, give the clubs a solid feel at impact. While some companies focus on distance, Mizuno has always been more about the feel of the club, and that is especially evident with their newest release.
On the Mizuno website, the company describes the set as a "powerful Grain Flow Forged iron crafted to awaken the shotmaker in players that need a little forgiveness." The way that the company delivers that forgiveness is in the pocket cavity that is milled into the 3-7 irons in the set. This cavity, which is 4mm wide, removes 16 grams of weight, which is then reallocated low and deep to help get the ball into the air. The cavity also helps to increase stability on off-center strikes giving the club more forgiveness. The short irons in the set (8-PW) feature a solid muscle design, giving those clubs even more feel. The irons also feature a heavily beveled sole to ensure cleaner turf interaction and enhance the workability of the club.
From a looks point of view, it is very hard to find a club that looks better than something in the Mizuno MP series. Sleek, simple, elegant, and even sexy are all words that I've heard used to describe Mizuno's clubs and the MP54's are no exception. Obviously, when you are designing a muscle back style of iron, it is very easy to keep things sleek as there isn't much going on anyways. However, as new features are added to the club, it becomes easy for the manufacture to add a logo here, a badge there, etc. and all of a sudden that sleek look is gone. While there is plenty of technology in Mizuno's newest sticks, they've resisted the temptation to bling them out. The face and and outside of the cavity have a beautiful chrome finish while the interior of the cavity as a bead blasted finish. Inside the cavity, is a simple, curved black stripe that matches the top of the club above it. Only a few markings are on the club, the Mizuno Runbird at the top, the script "MP-54" inside the stripe, and the Mizuno word-mark in the lower portion of the cavity. The sole has only the number of the club, which while sleek is also nice when it comes time to clean the clubs. The hosel is stamped with the words "Grain Flow Forged."
At address, this club continues to look wonderful. I love to have clubs that perform well, but for me, they have to look good also. These clubs are slightly larger than the MP-64 irons both with regards to blade length and top lines, however, I wouldn't say that these clubs are large. Even in the long irons, the clubs have very little offset. Mizuno does describe these as being "thick," and compared to the MP-64 or the MP-4 irons, I suppose they are, but not overly so, and not more than any other players' cavity iron. At address you can't see any of the clubs cavity, giving it a blade-like appearance. For those looking for a little bit more meat behind the ball, these might not be the right clubs; there is some there, but not a whole lot.
As stated in the intro, these clubs slot in right between the MP-64 and MP-H4 irons. According to the Mizuno website, these clubs are aimed at players with handicaps between 0 and 12 (compared to a range of +2-10 for the MP-64 and 2-14 for the MP-H4). I currently have a handicap around 11 and I don't have any issues playing these clubs. When I'm playing well, I find that these clubs will let me hit the shots that I want to, and when I'm playing poorly, the clubs are doing everything they can to help me out. What I mean by that is that if I miss the center of the face, I'm still not loosing a ton of distance.
The feel on these clubs is second to none in my opinion. Being Mizunos, the expectations in the feel department were rather high, and they more than delivered. You definitely get feedback from them as to where you made contact on the face, but only the worse of shots come any where close to hurting your hands. When they are struck well, I'm not sure there is a better feeling in golf. In the past I've played irons where each shot feels essentially the same, and that is not the case with these. When you hit one well, you know it, and it's a great feeling.
From a trajectory stand point, I hit these fairly high. With my set of the MP-64s, I had a higher launching shaft than what is in these, and I still get these higher up into the air, especially with the longer irons in the set. Last year I wrote that with the MP-64 long irons, I got the trajectory I was looking for out of the long irons when they were hit right; however, when I missed them, I did get some pretty low shots. With the MP-54 irons, there is less of that; I do still hit the occasional line drive type shot, but I find that the clubs launch higher more often than not. This is particularly nice as my home course has a couple of long par-3s and par 4s that require a long iron to be hit into the green; being able to launch one higher has enable me to hit them more than before. I've played in some fairly windy conditions over the last couple of months with these and haven't noticed anything out of the ordinary with them.
The other important thing I noticed with these clubs is consistency, both with regards to dispersion and gapping. If I'm making good swings, I tend to find the ball traveling the same distance each time and on the same line, to the point where I feel like I can hit a small circle on the range time and time again with them. The clubs are also gapped well so that there is an appropriate (for me 10 yards) and consistent gap between each club.
I said in the beginning that these clubs slot in nicely between the MP-64 and the MP-H4 irons, and I stand by that. However, I wouldn't say that they are right in the middle between them. From a looks point of view, they are much closer to the MP-64 irons, featuring club heads that are only a tad bit bigger. On the performance end, I'd say that they are probably closer to the MP-H4's . While the ability to work the ball is still there, there is still a lot of forgiveness in these clubs. So, the question once again is, does Mizuno have the best of both worlds with the MP-54 irons? My answer, without a doubt, is yes. Great looks, check. Forgiving, check. Soft feel, check. Consistent distance, check. Workability, check. For anybody looking to jump into the MP series of irons, I recommend this set over any others. While the MP-4 and MP-64 irons are beautiful, they are just as demanding and can punish you if you aren't at the top of your game. On the other hand, the MP-H4's are nice, but they don't look quite as nice and don't have the profile of a true MP club. The MP-54's give you that great look, and has the performance and forgiveness to go with it.