When I think of Mizuno Golf the first thing that comes to mind is a forged iron. Mizuno for years has been manufacturing forged irons that are among the very best in the golf industry. I personally played a set of MP-32s that remain one of my very favorite sets to this day. In more recent years they have even successfully gone after the higher handicap player with the MX line of game improvement irons.
That being said, I have never been a real fan of their line of woods. Even their Tour players have rarely played their woods and almost never played their drivers, a trend that continues to this day. So when I heard I would be receiving one of their new MP-CLK Hybrids I was anxious to try it to find out if it was more like their world class irons or their often unsuccessful woods.
Like many golfers these days at least one of my long irons have been replaced by the more user-friendly hybrid club. I no longer carry a 3-iron and instead have opted to go with a 20° hybrid. What I look for in a hybrid is a club that I can hit from a variety of lies including off a tee, and most importantly it must be workable. I am not interested in any type of game improvement club, which meant the Mizuno Hybrid should fit the bill perfectly. At the time I received the MP-CLK I was hitting a Titleist 909H that I was quite happy with, the MP-CLK was going to have to do a better than average job to replace it in my bag.
Technology and Design
The folks at Mizuno did their homework when they set off to design a hybrid for the better golfer. Much about the design of the MP-CLK has the better player in mind. First, they started off with what they call a "Tour Ready" head shape. I am not sure what "Tour Ready" means exactly, I can only guess that in Mizuno talk it means "Really Small". The head on the MP-CLK is one of the smallest hybrid club heads I have seen. My Titleist hybrid, while on the small side itself, is larger than the MP-CLK. Mizuno claims that the compact head shape is to maximize versatility and workability.
The face of the MP-CLK is made from 1770 stainless steel with a CORTECH design that is robotically laser welded to a 431 stainless steel body. The maraging steel face is ultra hard to maximize ball speed and increase distance. The crown of the club is dropped down behind the face to help lower the center of gravity for an easier launch and to allow for better lie adjustability.
The sole of the MP-CLK has generous relief that delivers reduced turf drag. I am not sure sole relief was really all that necessary due to the tiny head size, but it does produce a club that easily passes through some tough lies. The sole of the club also retains a large percentage of the head weight, 67 grams to be exact, that along with the dropped down crown makes for an extremely low center of gravity.
My initial thought upon receiving the MP-CLK was concerning the size of the club head. As I mentioned above the head of the MP-CLK is compact to say the least. This diminutive head size might be unsettling to some players, as it just looks like it might be hard to hit. I personally like smaller club heads as they provide better feedback and workability. Each individual golfer will need to make that decision on their own.
At address Mizuno's "Drop Down Crown" technology becomes apparent. The area directly behind the club face remains a silver color while the drop down area is painted black. Personally, I wish they would have just painted the entire crown black. The two tone look actually detracts from the overall look of the club in my opinion, and might actually make the club head appear smaller than it actually is. While by no means is this a deal breaker, it's just something that I found slightly bothersome. Everything else at address says this club means business. It sets up neutral just like a player's club should, to me it exudes confidence.
The stock shaft for the MP-CLK is the MRC Fubuki 84 gram shaft. For those out there that have never seen this shaft, it is bright white with little black and silver ninja throwing star graphics at the top. For some strange reason, I think the Fubuki line of shafts are kind of cool looking. Again individual players can be their own judge. Alternative shafts can be also be special ordered from the Mizuno custom shop.
I have to also mention the Golf Pride M-21 golf grip that also comes standard on the MP-CLK. It could just be me, but it felt oversized and I replaced it halfway through the review.
While technology, design, and esthetics are important, it is performance on the course that should be the most important factor in choosing a golf club. The Mizuno MP-CLK performed beautifully for me. I want to emphasize the "for me" on the end of that sentence for a reason. I do not believe this is a hybrid that is designed with all golfers in mind, then again does it really need to be?
The subtitle of this article says it all, my personal nickname for the MP-CLK is the forged blade of hybrids. I say this because everything I love about my forged blade irons, I in turn love about this hybrid. On the contrary, the MP-CLK has all the shortfalls seen with forged blades as well.
Let me explain, the MP-CLK is not the world's most forgiving hybrid, actually it's far from it. The compact club head along with other design aspects decrease this club's ability to forgive bad swings. Off center shots are received harshly by the hands and shots are hurt both in length and direction. In layman's terms bad swings produce bad shots that the club will not help correct.
On the other hand, with a good swing this club does a fantastic job from a variety of lies, and is a breeze to work around a golf course. And don't get me wrong, it's still easier to hit than a 3-iron. Every little bit given up in forgiveness, is returned ten fold in playability and workability. This is the real rescue club for me as I was able to hit it from some wicked lies and produce some shots from behind obstacles that had to move both right and left.
The day I got the MP-CLK I took it on the course to run it through the motions. I was able to try shots from a variety of lies. The little Mizuno performed well from all of them. The thing I was perhaps most impressed with was its ability to cut through thick lies. I dropped balls into some of the gnarliest lies this side of a U.S. Open only to see the Mizuno repeatedly extract them. Tight lies were a breeze as well, as the MP-CLK ate them up and produced good shot after good shot. Now as I stated earlier, one thing my hybrid must be is easy to hit off the tee. With such a small club head I was worried that the Mizuno might not perform well in that category. My worries were laid to rest as the Mizuno had no problem off the tee once tee height was addressed. I found the MP-CLK did not like the ball teed too high. Once I teed the ball lower I was able to hit an assortment of different shots working the ball both left and right.
Another feature I really enjoyed about the MP-CLK is the ball flight. With just about every other hybrid club I have tried I have had two types of ball flight, high and really high. The Mizuno's boring ball flight was a blessing. If I needed to hit a high soft landing shot I could, but if I needed a lower more wind friendly trajectory I could do that as well. Playability is this club's middle name.
The sound off the club face is another aspect that must be mentioned in the MP-CLK's favor. In the era of the tin can sound the Mizuno produces an almost persimmon-like sound. On a well struck shot all that is heard is a muted thump. This is a definite bonus in my opinion as the sound made by many modern day metal club heads is not something I enjoy.
Finally, no review on a hybrid would be complete without mentioning its prowess in the short game. Chipping with the hybrid is a shot that has grown in popularity as hybrid clubs have made their ways into more and more golf bags. I have to admit that prior to this review, its not really a shot that I had in my repertoire. To be thorough in this review though I decided to give it a try, and to my surprise it is a really handy shot to have around the green. The little club head on the Mizuno is a breeze to chip with, especially for those lies where the ball is sitting up against thick green side rough. In the rounds since the MP-CLK was put into my bag my playing partners have seen me get up and down several times with it.
Specs and Extras
The Mizuno MP-CLK is available in three lofts 17°, 20°, and 23° and comes standard with a MRC Fubuki 84 gram shaft in three flexes regular, stiff, and extra stiff. Additional shaft options are available special order from the Mizuno custom shop. A golf pride M-21 round golf grip also comes standard. Sorry left handers as of now it is only available for right handed players. The Mizuno MP-CLK retails for $200 but if you shop around you can normally find it a tad cheaper.
In my reviews I always like to mention the headcover, especially if there is a problem with it. The headcover that comes with the MP-CLK is about two sizes too big so it constantly falls off. While not really a huge deal it is irritating when you must hike back 200 yards on a hole to pick it up.
The MP-CLK is a very solid club for the better player. Anyone with a grooved swing that makes consistent contact would be served well to give the MP-CLK a try. It does take some time to get used to but after a few rounds the obvious improvements it can make to your game become apparent.
After the first few times I took the MP-CLK out I was doubtful it was going to get my Titleist out of my bag. After 3-4 more rounds the club grew on me, and since I have actually ended up putting it in my bag. As I mentioned above the stock grip felt too large to me and it was actually after I replaced it that the club actually started performing the way I wanted it to. Whether this change was is my head or not might never be known. Either way this club continues to do everything I expect from a hybrid club and even surprises me sometimes, in a good way of course.