Mizuno MP-55 Yoro Craft Irons - In Japan Mizuno offers the MP-55 instead of the MP-25 why? I don't know but I do know after hitting the MP-55's that they are indeed special irons that with the help of Mizuno's hand crafters at their Yoro deptartment can configure these irons to fit a wide range of players from professional to mid/high handicappers by making adjustments to the top line thickness, sole and grinds along with face progression also known as offset.
Forged of S25C /1025E it is the evolution of the MP-54, Ready for more pictures and a break down of this beautiful club? Follow the Jump to read on...
Ako-san has been extremely busy with his new company A-Grind and the results are paying off with the winner of the Volvo China open playing an A-Grind UT 20.5* club so big congrats to A-Grind and Ako-san on that one. Today I'm going to highlight something we have been waiting for since the Japan Golf Show back in Feb where we caught glimpse of a prototype R1 CB iron which I must admit looks stunning.
Forged in Himeji Japan & Made in Kobe the A-GRIND R1 is the new design cavity back made of mild S25C, it's designed for the low capper to pro with a very thin top line and compact appearance, it's toe and face shape are unique to cavity back irons and its neck transition is very quick yet subtle and small to provide a more blade like appearance at address. More photos after the Jump...
Today I'm going to do a quick introduction of the all new Miura Giken CB-1007 Forged Cavity Back Iron. We received a loaner head for photos which we have to unfortunately return so we won't be able to shaft it up and test it so this post instead will be a brief intro into Miura's latest athlete model offering. The CB series has always been the more compact cavity back made for the better golfer. The previous model, the CB-1006 was released back in 2006 so the launch of the CB-1007 was long overdue.
Miura irons are very much based on feel which is not only attributed to their soft premium S25C forgings but also their designs. CB-1006 was already aimed at purer feel though the use of a muscle power hump. The CB-1007 design is more intricate, with a cavity that features multi thickness to both mimic the feel of a muscle back and to control weight distribution.
The thickest portion of the cavity is right in the center and Miura designed the thick part to extend vertically up and down, the typically striking pattern of a better golfer. The second level of thickness fans outwards and is not quite as thick as the center. This distributes weight outwards and lower to maintain a healthy launch and add some forgiveness while still providing feel.
Like all CB models or all Miura models for that matter, the topline is quite thin and the offset quite minimal. With very little cavity and a narrow sole, the CB-1007 is designed to appear like a blade at address promoting workability and control.
As better players prefer, the CB-1007 features a sharp face profile with a thin and straight top line. The toe is boxy and high while the heel area is shorter. The tall toe promotes using the height of the face for spin control and provides a confident appearance at address. To compensate for the narrow sole, the leading edge is slightly rounded to add some versatility. The new CB-1007 does sport conforming USGA V grooves for tournament play.
The all new Miura Giken CB-1007 Forged iron is a good looking cavity back. Compared to previous heads its design is cleaner and less cluttered with a simple MG and CB-1007 in the cavity. Miura still insisted on leaving the W.D.D. Accurate Forged on the head but if they had taken that off or put it on the neck instead, the head would look even cleaner and less cluttered. Fans of Miura will love this iron mostly for its pure feel thanks to its muscle back like design. The new CB-1007 is available now through TSG as heads only or built to spec with your favorite shaft and grip. Look for it in the pro shop in the next few days!
PRGR sent over their New iD Forged iron for the 2011 fall season. The new iD Forged fits in right below the pro model iD BL iron as the new better player forged cavity back. While the iD BL is a pure one piece forged compact cavity, the new iD Forged is designed to be a small CB with some technology in it as well.
Premium Forged with Technology...
The new iD Forged iron is forged by Endo and features a soft premium S20C body. What makes this different and more high tech is that the iD Forged is in fact technically a 4 piece iron. While the body is S20C, the inside of the cavity features two specially designed pieces of Alpha Gel which helps soften the feel at impact and reduce vibrations on miss hits. The gel is thicker towards the sole where the two layers double up to reduce vibrations on low stuck shots on the face, and thinner towards the sweet spot to maintain a pure feel. For the face,, PRGR utilizes a 2.3mm thin SAE8655M for high COR performance and increased ball speeds. As many TSG readers know, 8655 is in fact Nickel-chromium-molybdenum steel which has a soft feel but is more durable than S20C as well as with its thin construction rather elastic. This results in a springy feel at impact with the ball jumping off the face.
Constant CG Height...
The new iD Forged features a nice face profile with taller toe and rather straight leading edge and top line. PRGR placed the CG point at 20.5mm high on all of the iD forged irons. AT 20.5mm high, its only 0.5mm below the center point of the ball. While the CG point is at the same height across the set relative to the sole, this in fact move the point from lower in the long irons to higher in the short irons due to the loft of the face of each iron. As loft increases and the the face angles upwards, that same 20.5mm from the ground equals a higher striking point on the face resulting in a lower trajectory and stronger spin for added stopping power and control around the greens. On the other hand the stronger lofts of the long irons places the CG lower on the face for more launch and carry.
In order to create a versatile iron for the better player, PRGR designed the sole to be thin but forgiving. It's rounded shape features leading edge and trailing edge relief. This promotes easier entry and exit through the turf and more pure impact. This type of sole has been used a lot by PRGR recently on all its irons and seems to be quite popular with its customers and golfers here at TSG.
The new iD Forged iron features a thinner topline and less offset than the previous model. It sets up quite nicely at address and with its bead blasted face frames the ball rather well. I tested this iron for a couple of days and really have nothing bad to say about it. I like its looks though I think satin around the cavity rather than mirror chrome would have looked even better. The iron sets up great and while on the smaller side its by no means tiny. I usually am not a fan of inserts and vibration type gels that are placed in premium forged irons as in the past I have always felt they deadened or muted the feel far too much. Sure they can help with vibration control but too many times its to the point where you can no longer tell where you hit the ball on the face (you need to look at the face after each shot to be sure). HOWEVER, the iD Forged is not as extreme as other models of the past and it seems designers are improving the gel and insert design. Because the iD forged uses two layers of gel, most of the insert is low on the face so when you catch a ball thin, it helps reduce the vibrations, but when you hit the ball more pure and towards the center, the gel has far less affect which is a good thing. It feels pretty good off sweet spot strikes and the face is rather springy when struck pure. The fact I can feel the springiness is a good thing.
Forgiveness wise, thanks to the sole, its quite an easy iron to strike well. I think better players will appreciate the added forgiveness and improving mid-cappers will be able to lower their scores thanks to the irons balanced performance. PRGR sent TSG two testers, one with PRGR's Spec Steel III which is under 100g and plays very much like the 950GH with a mid to higher launch. The other tester had the Nippon Modus 3 which is what they call their standard-custom order shaft. I's only about 25.00 more per iron to get the Modus and I think for the faster swinger and better player its a worthy upgrade though for myself, the Modus 3 is too heavy and too stiff. Players under 100mph driver speeds should opt for the Spec steel and over 100mph really go for the Modus 3. Both testers I had were 7 irons with 32* of loft, these created a mid to slightly higher ball flight with pretty good direction.
Overall the iron is a very nice package, premium forged from Endo with technology to boot, a nice look and design and good performance to go along with it. Please look for it in the TSG Pro shop this week.
Back at the end of November I received the new PRGR iD lineup for some demo time. I did write a couple of reviews on the blog for the drivers and woods and I kind of put the irons on the back burner. I figured since 2011 is no here and the irons are now available I'd take the time to give some brief feedback. iD stands for Inspiration and Data and is broken down into lines, the athlete model iD435 line and the average golfer model iD455 line. iD brings together two key aspects of top performance golf clubs. "i" is for Inspiration that is from all golfers who want to hit it further, straighter and take it to the next level. "D" is for Data or the technical aspect of the club designs based on data collected by PRGR over the years on players of all levels.
The new iD435 Forged iron is fits on the control side of the new iD fitting chart made for the better golfer who wants forged feel and workability. This Endo forged iron features a premium soft S20C body matched with a SAE8655 (Nickel-chromium-molybdenum) alloy face making it another one of those tradition bucking hybrid forged irons. This triple alloy face is stronger and more durable than S20C but is hardened to a similar softness. Because it can be produced thinner, the SAE8655 face creates a hotter feel at impact as well as less weight allowing for PRGR to place weight lower in the sole area. PRGR decided on a 20.5mm CG height across all iron lofts. As the lofts get weaker this means that the CG point is actually higher up on the iron face. From their data, PRGR concluded that a similar CG line across the set allows the player to make the same swing with every iron and produce more consistent sweet spot striking.
Pocket Cavity with some offset...
The iD435 Forged does have a touch of offset, probably more than most athlete golfers might want, but it seems again that PRGR has decided that one cannot have enough forgiveness no matter what their handicaps is so they've incorporated not only a touch more offset but also a rounded sole with a lot of leading edge and trailing edge relief. They have also decided to release their smaller athlete cavity back with yet another pocket cavity design. These days more and more better player irons seem to feature pocket cavities. In the past the concern was that pocket cavities created too much of a clicky feel at impact but I've found that designs have evolved with many of the smaller cavity backs using much smaller and shallower pockets than the larger pocket cavities of the past. This is resulting in much less noticeable click at impact and maintaining the pure feel. The iD435 pocket actually shrinks in size as the irons get shorter which again allow the short irons to focus more on control.
As a mid handicapper, the slight offset doesn't really bother me and probably aids me in squaring the face at impact but standing over the iD435 Forged at address, I can't help but think there will be those better players who will write off this iron because of the slight offset. My tester 7 iron came with M-43 Spec Steel III PRGR shafts. I've always found these to be pretty high quality stock steel shafts which feel and play a lot like Nippon NS Pro. When irons have a progressive design like the iD435 does with constant CG height and shrinking pocket cavity, I always wish I had a whole set to test as a single 7 iron doesn't necessarily represent how a long iron will play with the bigger pocket cavity vs say the PW with a much smaller pocket cavity for feel. Nevertheless the 7 iron provided very good feel with minimal if any clicking (this is subjective of course) and the ball was very easy to get up in the air.
All Around Iron...
Lofts are medium strong with a 26* 5 iron spec and this 7 iron performed well at getting the ball in the air with good carry and reasonable spin (yes new grooves of course) on landing. With a steel shaft and 32* 7 iron loft I was hitting the club around 145 ish which is shorter than my average of 150-155y with strong lofted irons and graphite that I typically use. That is certainly acceptable as the iD435 is not meant to be a distance performer but rather an all around iron with feel, ease of use aspects and control all for the better golfer. The forgiveness is definitely enough for a good ball striking mid capper to play. While the id435 certainly possessed "ease of use" the club was workable as well with soft draws or cut fades. When it comes to forgiveness and target audience, admittedly this happened when PRGR first released their GN502 line a few years ago and had a standard GN502 model for the average golfer and a GN502 Forged for the athlete and better player. It turned out the GN502 Forged could pretty much be played by everyone as it was that forgiving and the iD435 Forged fits that same mold again.
In my opinion it could be a trend similar to ONOFF where models have shifted more in favor of the average golfer which is of course the biggest target audience in Japan. The average golfer models have become even more forgiving than ever (like the id455 Iron pictured above with the iD435.. yes its bigger too) and now with many athlete models sharing similar aspects of forgiveness. In the end I'd recommend the iD435 for the better player wanting more forgiveness and ease of use or the mid capper/improving player wanting to move to a forgiving forged iron. Golfers wanting a true player's cavity are better off looking at Tourstage and their X-Blade line. Look for all the new PRGR iD clubs in the TSG Pro Shop this week!
I just got back from the Tokyo Auto Salon 2011 at Makuhari Messe, a long 12 hour day of photo taking. I've got over 900 photos to sort through so I thought I'd do that over the weekend and instead do a quick review of the new ONOFF Forged Iron for 2011. While ONOFF refreshes their woods once a year, typically iron models are updated every 2 years with the Red model updated during even number years and the Plus model during odd number years. I was lucky enough (as always) to get the new ONOFF Forged Iron for 2011 back in late November for testing. I spent two weeks with the iron and will give some feedback in this post on what I thought.
RED or PLUS - Both forgiving...
ONOFF is a very popular average golfer brand in Japan. Their clubs always look good, feel good and perform, especially for ease of use. There has always been two lines, the ONOFF RED for average golfers and the ONOFF PLUS for the better golfer and athlete player. Even their PLUS line has always been know to be very forgiving. Starting with last years 2010 RED iron, ONOFF took forgiveness up another notch. They seem to have done another shift on the scale more towards forgiveness as the RED model went from a very good average golfer model and even mid capper model to a larger, more offset high handicapper model or dare I say it beginner iron. This allowed ONOFF to release the PLUS version with a similar shift towards more forgiveness.
No PLUS - Just Forged
The 2009 ONOFF Plus Forged was a great iron and one of my personal favorites. It always got great comments for a simple look, thin top line and sole and while not compact still smallish and possessing awesome feel plus forgiveness. So how does the 2011 model stack up? Interestingly as I talked about the shift towards forgiveness, I should also note that ONOFF for this new Forged model has dropped the PLUS moniker.
Less tungten in sole...
There are several design changes in the new model compared to the 2009, with conforming grooves being the most obvious. The 2011 model does possess a tungsten sole as did the 2009 model however the weighting is not as heavy, about 20g less. And while this would suggest that the CG has moved up higher in the head, the sole and cavity of the iron are in fact bigger/deeper (as you can see in the first picture above right) thanks to a tapered cavity keeping weight towards the bottom of the club. Overall the head appears larger than the 2009 model as well as what looks like a bit more offset. ONOFF stresses that the key points of the new 2011 model are ease of use and soft feel.
Not really a small cavity back...
As I noted I am a very huge fan of the 2009 model so I had very high expectations for this iron. When I first received it, admittedly I was a bit turned off by its look and size. But this is a personal thing and probably because I got so used to the 2009 model. Visually the face profile of the new 2011 model is pretty good, it has a sharp toe and a nice straight top blade. While there is more offset and the head appears larger, its not huge by any means however I'd say it leans more towards mid sized than compact sized, but still somewhere in between. The sole features a blunt leading edge and as you can see from the picture below, the tungsten is actually the back part of the sole.
Soft and easy...
So how does all this translate into performance? The 2011 ONOFF Forged is very soft at impact. There are many in Japan who thought that 2009 ONOFF Plus Forged was one of the softest irons of the last two years and the new 2011 model is just as soft. This is thanks to that triangle/pyramid like design you see in the cavity which increases the thickness of the sweet area. The tester I had came with 850GH Regular steel shafts (which are the standard steel R Flex shafts, stiff is 950GH). As a player who is still improving and a self professed average golfer, I had no problems hitting this iron. It is not difficult to play. ONOFF's boasted ease of use and forgiveness is certainly there as the forgiving sole and tungsten weight easily help pick the ball up and provide a mid to higher trajectory. It does not launch as high as the undercut RED irons but its easy to get the ball in the air. Besides feel and ease of use, the iron is relatively workable as I could hit a draw or fade. Lofts are on the stronger side with a 25* 5 iron so for those better players used to playing more traditional lofts, this iron does provide good distance.
A forged option for the improving golfer...
So the bottom line is a nice iron, with good ease of use and great feel. Looks are subjective but I have to say, that low handicappers and better players may balk at the size and offset. However low handicappers and better players looking for forgiveness and distance should not rule this iron out. On the other hand, mid cappers and fast improving golfers who are ready to move to a forged iron or simply want a softer feel without losing distance have another great choice along with the VG3, Machspeed Forged, XXIO Forged, GR Forged etc to choose from. Plus there is a graphite option for those who want something more lightweight and easy to swing.
ONOFF continues to produce clubs that are easy to use and that appeal to the largest segment of golfers in Japan. Look for the new irons in the TSG Pro Shop this weekend and as always here are a few more pictures I took.
I finally got some time to whip together a post on my testing for the forged cavity back shootout. Part 1 feature a focus on each irons design an aesthetics while part 2 here will talk about performance aspects of each iron. As I mentioned in part 1, organizing and actually doing this shootout was much more difficult logistically that I had imagined. Being able to organize all the demos within the same window proved to be impossible from all the different manufacturers. I'm going to have to re-think the way I do shootout style testing by either going with smaller groups and numbers of clubs or stick to one by one reviews and one on one comparisons.
Due to the excruciatingly long time it's taken to get this test done (I know people have waited and I am sorry taking so long!) I've decided to throw some models I've received in the past few weeks into this performance test along with the first batch of irons rather than doing a second test that will also most likely take too long to do. Many of these irons deserve their own individual reviews as well which I will do down the road but for now, their performance aspects will be presented here. These irons include the TM Burner Forged, R9 Forged, Titleist VG3Forged, Royal Collection Tour VS Forged, Tourstage X-Blade GR Forged and the PRGR egg Forged (which I actually already reviewed here).
When it comes to testing irons, general opinions and views can be made on each irons design and looks as well as performance. It certainly can be hard giving accurate feedback on an iron I sometimes only get to test for a few days. As we all know, sometimes switching to a new iron can take several sessions just to get used to. I try and test irons for several days straight when I have them otherwise its just not enough time to make a fair assessment. I spend at least a day staring at each iron and taking photos. I examine the irons design based on the manufacturers listed features and specs (if you read all the specs and product descriptions in the pro shop, I actually write all of those, translating from Japanese which is how I learn about all the products). I then spend at least a day at the range hitting the iron(s) off the tee and off the mats. Personally I don't like driving ranges. If you want to work on your swing that's all fine but I feel hitting a nice forged iron on hard practice mat (there are rarely any grass ranges in Japan, at least for the public) is not nearly the same as hitting it on a lush fairway. However, range sessions are a must, all I have to do is pay for balls and I can stay there all day.
Living on a golf course also makes it convenient for me to bring lots of test clubs right on the course to test out which I usually do the day after the range. This is my favorite kind of testing, real world testing. Here you can see how different head and sole designs really work. Uneven lies, rough, lush fairway, hitting off the tee into the wind, real hazards like trees and bunkers and water. The club attendants and staff sometimes think I'm weird heading out on the course with 5 different 7 irons.
While I am obviously not a professional golfer, I am an enthusiast like all of you. I represent the average consumer who wants the best cutting edge clubs. Every year I am lucky enough to hit almost every club released by all the big manufacturers so I hope that has given me some sort of measure to properly evaluate many of today's designs and clubs. However in the end, when I think about it, evaluating certain aspects of golf clubs is very very subjective. These are my opinions and my findings that may differ from the next player. Measurements like feel and forgiveness are very hard to quantify and will vary from person to person. What feels soft to one player may not for the next. Some players believe that to a certain extent even forgiveness in a club is based on the players mindset and of course skill level. A club that is considered as forgiving by a skilled and confident low handicapper can very likely be not forgiving for a once a month average golfer.
In the end these are my findings and my subjective opinion. I hope people can use this as a reference for deciding about a certain iron but keep in mind there is no clear winner. Every player is different. We all have different swings and different levels. It's all about finding the right set of irons that suits your game and play and personal taste. All the irons I have tested are of very good quality and performance. Are some better than the other? For me yes, which is why at the end of the test I'll let you know what my personal favorites are (which I actually bought already). I've broken up the ratings as follows along with written feedback on each iron:
FEEL: This is of course feel at impact. Many factors affect feel. People always talk about who forged that iron, what material is it made of etc etc... however where it is forged and what material it is is really only one factor on how an iron will feel. The actual design of the club head as well as the grind will also affect a clubs feel. The right shaft also affects feel of a club. All the irons here are forged and feel pretty good. Some are more firm and some are more soft. This rating is very subjective but I'll try my best to convey what I feel. Each individual will have their own perception of soft and what they like. I know some players who prefer a more "firm" soft with feedback rather than a "mushy" soft.
TRAJECTORY: Irons today feature many designs and technical features that push the center of gravity lower and lower in heads. However all irons have different CG positions which will affect the actual trajectory of the ball. Besides rating the trajectory as high mid or low, I'll try my best in the description to describe the actual ball flight.
SPIN: This is a very difficult rating for me. I work out of my house so I don't have a launch monitor or any high tech gear to measure spin. I have to go by eye and base my rating on the irons performance ie what it does when it lands. This is probably why you see the smallest variance between all the irons in the spin category. That coupled with the fact that most of the irons feature new grooves while a few feature old grooves make it unfair when comparing the spin as the older models will out spin the new ones. That said, many average golfer models are based on distance performance which actually produce less spin on purpose for more carry and total distance.
DISTANCE: Distance is one of the quantitative measures I can actually give, either using flags at the driving range or GPS at Kiminomori GC. Distance is effected by trajectory and spin created by each design in each iron and of course ultimately by the loft of each iron. The tested irons are all 7 irons however, they range from 28.5* to 34* so there will obviously be a difference in distance. So keep this in mind when looking at the distance rating. An iron with more distance does not necessarily mean its a better iron unless you are a player specifically looking for a distance iron. Then you're more likely to choose the strong lofted model over the weak lofts.
FORGIVENESS: As an average golfer I feel I can judge how forgiving an iron is based on its design and ability to minimize distance lost on off center hits because I do in fact have off center hits. My forgiveness rating is not only based on minimal distance loss but how easy a club is to hit in different lies including uneven lies and thick rough as well as the design of the club ie lots of leading and trailing edge forgiveness, a pocket cavity, a wider sole etc. Again many features can affect forgiveness.
TARGET PLAYER: The target player rating is really a handicap range where I think those players could have no problems playing each specific iron with success. Some irons are aimed at better players while some are aimed at more improving players. Its also true that a mid to higher handicap player or someone who shoots in the 90's could play an iron aimed at the 15 capper if he or she is a great ball striker. Typically, the larger the head, the more offset it has, and the more distance it gives gears the iron towards the mid to higher handicapper. In this case I made the range 0 - 20 as typically that is what a forged CB targets.
In my descriptions I will also classify each iron as manual or automatic. Manual meaning workability left and right with a certain level of control. Automatic meaning point at the target and swing for a straight and high shot.
Okay let's get started with the ratings. Click Read More to continue with the irons!