Pros: Amazing Balance, Feel, and Build Quality
Cons: Only two loft options, in addition to very limited shaft options
This is going to be a sleeper club again this year. As with the previous generation JPX800, which I bag, this club comes in only two lofts, which are lofts that play true to their stated launch, maybe a tad lower if anything, and doesn't feature any new kitschy techno-gizmos. There is no adjustable hosel, no, hole drilled in the sole, no super racy paint job and no corporate hype about the great technological breakthrough offering, "....an instant 50 yards of distance for all your drives, and every one of them is guaranteed to land in the fairway too..." Mizuno woods, in my humble opinion, are about as underappreciated as Wilson Staff Irons. But one must admit that Mizuno bears more than just a little bit of the responsibility for this.
In a year when even old staid Titleist, and Ping, some of the last hold outs, bring adjustable hosels to the market, it would have behooved Mizuno to at least attempt to do the same thing. In a year when everyone brags about their latest and greatest technology, or offers a real tour quality shaft, it would have behooved Mizuno to at least offer more than one shaft. In a year when most companies are pulling out all the stops in loft offerings, and/or adjustability to achieve such, offering only two lofts seems downright stingy in the midst of a recession.
Still, all techno and marketing hype aside, let's get down to brass tacks. This is a very good driver. It offers great feel, extensive forgiveness, and a sharp sporty look without a dodgy paint job. As I have grown used to my JPX 800, I was pre-disposed to understand what these next generation Mizuno Drivers require of the swinger in order to deliver the goods. Mizuno either uses the real boutique shaft, or has said boutique shaft beefed-up at both the butt and tip before slapping the Mizuno Moniker on it.
All that being said, I'd like to point out that this club will not only get ignored by most golf consumers, but misunderstood by the usual golf magazine reviews as well. I've already read a few of them, and it strikes me that, as with my JPX800, the regular Joe Average walked up to the test, picked up the driver in his usual loft with the shaft in his usual flex, hit a few short ones out to the right, and called it a day. Loss of distance and direction like this is usually a sign of a loft too low, and a flex too stiff. That was the case with my JPX800. I had to belly up to a 10.5* Driver instead of my usual 9.5* version. Then I had to swallow my ego and use a Regular Flex shaft in place of a Stiff. Not only did it hit straighter than my old "Gold Medal Winning Game Improvement Drivers", it was longer, and even more forgiving than, dare I say it?.......an Adams Driver.
Distance ---4 ½ Stars
Again, this club will not outdrive everything in its class via raw distance. In fact, there are a few out there that can really stick it to this one in raw distance. And yet, as with my JPX800, the balance, feel, and forgiveness of this club work together to get it an amazing consistency of distance. This consistency of distance allows this club to outdistance the vast majority of its competition, by hitting it longer and straighter, with a more idealized trajectory. If it weren’t for this consistency, shot after shot with the same directionality swing aster swing, I would have to mark this as a 3 1/2 -4 Star club in distance.
Balance and Feel—5 Stars
What can I say? It’s a Mizuno! Feel is everything when it comes to Mizuno. This club has that slight moment of cling at impact followed by a nice re-assuring “POP”. It is not as “POPPY” as say the new Callaways or the new Cobra Amp Cell, but it is not accompanied by an ugly harsh pitch or a dull thuddy sound either. It feels strong and smooth. It’s that Lamborghini Smooth type of acceleration vs. the more V8 GTO ¼ Mile version.
Again, it’s a Mizuno. Balance is pretty much what these clubs are all about. I remember The Blue Rage Driver they were marketing at one time, and a few scratch guys I played with believed in it above all else that was out there. I was playing a Cobra at the time, as that was “The Distance Driver” of the day. I didn’t have the game back then to appreciate how much Balance really played into the distance as well as the feel categories. Let’s just say that I had to get the game to appreciate this factor.
Forgiveness- 4 1/2 Stars
I want to give this the full bore 5 stars she deserves, but there are plenty of other drivers out there that are that extra ½ star of forgiving in this category, but I dare say that their feel is dismal compared to this one, and the distance results will vary. This club does have a nice almost triangular shape to it, and the there is an internal weight that is balanced and set low and back to lower the center of gravity and increase the MOI. I love the bulge and roll of this club and that is one of the biggest factors of its forgiveness potential. Still, it is what allows this club to be forgiving with a face that is square, and that is also better for feel. . More forgiving drivers don’t dare use square faces, but instead rely on offset, closed faces, or those new adjustable hosels that allow you to set the face angle.
Techs and Specs-4 Stars
Lofts aren’t very generous at all. Two lousy lofts is a pretty crumby selection actually, and that’s hard for me to say—but facts are facts. No Techno-kitsch at all in this year of ”Kitsch is King”, would also deem disastrous. But this is where I actually begin to argue Mizuno’s case for them. Technology isn’t always the latest and greatest thing. In fact, craftsmanship is its own form of technology. If you doubt this, just look at the work of one well recognized club maker Jesse Ortiz. He is a designated club guru of design for two of the very things that this club also emphasizes. “The Triangle of Stability”, and the maximization of bulge and roll are to be found in all Jesse Ortiz designed drivers since the legendary cult classic Orlimar Trimetal 425, to the present day Bobby Jones Studio models. It is this type of attention to detail to tried and true technology that allows me to give this 4 star rating. Not even Ping Golf, well recognized as an innovative company, began using adjustable hosels till this year. That’s because the order came from the top. “We know that adjustable hosels add weight that is hard to counter balance to a very critical part of the club. The hosel is where the shaft meets the club head. Weight that cannot be properly counter balanced can have such a negative effect on performance as to negate any and all performance gains that adjustability may offer.” It’s no wonder that the Ping hosels are the lightest in the industry, and consequently, offer the least amount of adjustability.
I’d love to rate this club higher, but the lack of loft options alone prevents me from doing so. As I said earlier, the lack of shaft options comes as a bit of a surprise to me as well. As stated in the Techs and Specs section, one can argue for or against the adjustable hosel technology, but it’s hard not to ignore the lack of it in a year when everyone else in the industry seems to be sporting one. Still, I can attest to how well my JPX 800 plays for me, so I can’t help but urge people to try this club. If it fits your swing you just might be amazed at its performance. I certainly was when the JPX 800 blew the Driver, and its two backups right out of my bag. I traded all three of them in just to get mine and the matching fairway metal. Again, move up a loft and down a flex-----you might be in for a big surprise from this sleeper club.