Exclusive Podcast – Mizuno MP-18 Irons

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The Golf Club Engineer for Mizuno, Chris Voshall, joins us for episode #247 of the Golf Better Podcast to introduce the new MP-18 line of irons.

In this episode, we discuss the new family of irons in the MP-18 line, the technology that is instituted into each club – including the upgraded HD Grain Flow Forge technology, how the MP-18 line has a club designed for every level of player, and much more.

Take a listen to our podcast. You can do so by our Soundcloud link below, on our website or subscribe free on iTunes.

Tom Brassell: Welcome to Golf Better at Worldwide Golf Shops. This is episode 247. Hello, everyone. Tom Brassell here. Thanks so much for joining us. If you’re a first-time listener or a longtime subscriber, or maybe somewhere in between the two, either way, we’re just glad that you joined us.

Today’s a great day here at Golf Better as we have one of our good friends from up near Atlanta, Georgia joining us, our good friends from Mizuno Golf represented by Chris Voshall. Chris, thanks so much for joining us. Great to have you with us.

Chris Voshall: Hey. Thanks so much for your time. Happy to talk about some new clubs.

Tom Brassell: Before we get into the meat of our conversation, Chris, why don’t you take us back a little bit into your background and your day-to-day role at Mizuno?

Chris Voshall: Sure, absolutely. I am a senior golf club engineer. I’ve been with Mizuno for 13 years. I actually started fresh out of school, it was any golfers dream, where I was running the test labs, so basically cutting up competitor clubs, running the test robot, doing all of that stuff, all the fun stuff that you dream about.

Then, from there, I was able to start learning how to design clubs, so as a part of the R&D and as I’ve continued to grow, I started designing clubs, probably, about 11 years ago. So, for the past 11 years, I’ve been an integral part of the design team and worked really hard with our tour staff, with our team over in Japan, our team in China, our team here, and all our sales force across the nation just trying to create new cool stuff.

Tom Brassell: Wow. If you sat that title and pronounce it the wrong way, the senior golf club engineer, somebody might take that the wrong way and think you do nothing but design clubs for people 65 and older, right?

Chris Voshall: You know, I hadn’t thought about it that way, but you’re totally right about that.

Tom Brassell: Well, I don’t want to steal any thunder, Chris, talk a little bit about what’s gone on to get to this point with all new for Mizuno, the MP18?

Chris Voshall: The last couple of years have been a little bit of a transition from Mizuno, starting last year we launched an entire line of JPX golf clubs, no new MPs, which MP has always been really our player’s line. What we really wanted to do was we wanted to try to take a step away from MP because it had gotten to the point where we were doing some things within the MP name and the MP line, they were taking a step away from what that better player is truly looking for. We had done some bigger golf clubs, huge cavities, big slots and distance clubs, and then by taking a step away we were able to really, really focus on what the better player is looking for, and that’s a great look, a solid feel, consistent performance, different added levels of playability, but all in a very compact head.

On top of that, the better player needs a ton of different options, so with the MP18 line, we tried to create it not as three sets of irons, but more as one set of MP18 … A huge family that’s designed to mix-and-match from top to bottom so you can find the perfect pitching wedge, the perfect eight iron, the perfect six iron, the perfect three iron to make whatever set really fits a player the best.

Tom Brassell: That’s really, really interesting. Take us a little bit behind the scenes with the club and … I guess, not really the club, but really the line because this is for really anybody, right?

MP-18(1)Chris Voshall: Sure. Absolutely. That’s the cool thing about it is everybody always see a set of blades in the bag and they want to play those, and a lot of players could probably play that in the pitching wedge but not when you get up into the five iron, four iron, three iron, so what we did is we created three … We call it 3 1/2 set of irons with added levels of playability throughout, so there’s the MP18 line, which that’s the truest blade, there’s really not much going on in terms of look from behind. It’s this clean, classic, traditional-looking as can be, but it features a new grain flow forging process called grain flow forge HD that’s going to focus more of the grains when we forge it down low in the head. That’s going to give you the best feel in the industry. Mizuno’s always been known as great feeling golf clubs, and this is going to take that a step further.

MP-18 SCFor those guys who can’t quite handle that blade, the next step up in forgiveness is the MP18 SC, which SC stands for split cavity design. This is very similar in terms of head size and shape, thin topline, thin sole, but there’s a little bit more forgiveness built in with the cavity behind impact. That’s going to give you a little bit more MOI, a little bit more launch, but it’s still same spec, same loft, same lie, same head-weight, same length, all those things designed to be mixed and matched with the muscle back.

MP-18 MMCThe step beyond that would be the MP18 MMC for multi-material construction. That’s where, as an engineer, we really got to take the gloves off and really see what we could do with different construction techniques. That still features a grain flow forged HD body, but what we did is we actually forged titanium directly behind impact, which is lighter than steel, which gave us a more discretionary weight to then actually play some tungsten out on the toe, to really increase motive inertia and make a golf club that launched even easier and is more forgiving than it should be for its size. That’s the third level in forgiveness.

MP-18-MMC Fli-HiThen, to top that all off, there’s a set of MP18, what we call MMC fly-hi’s, so this is a six through two iron that’s really more of a driving iron, or a long iron replacement type club, for if you really want a six iron, five iron, four iron that’s just going to get in the air, be forgiving and go long. But, all of these clubs are designed to be mixed and matched, they all have a very similar look behind impact, they’re all going to be the same swing-weight, you can combine them however you want with whatever shaft you want, and at no up-charge, on whatever grip you want, and just make the perfect, unique set for you.

Tom Brassell: You mentioned a couple things I’d like to ask you about, one is … Well, you actually mentioned this one twice, and that was MOI. That’s really what most golfers are looking for, the maximum performance on something that’s just off-center a little bit.

Chris Voshall: It’s exactly right. What MOI truly does is it make sure the head doesn’t twist when you miss it on the center. We’d all love to hit it like Rory Mcllroy, right in the middle every time, but that’s not reality, so that’s where you look for a higher MOI as you get into … Especially, the more demanding clubs. That’s where these four clubs or 3 1/2 sets of clubs, each one steps up in terms of moment of inertia. If you’re a high handicap who really wants that great look, you could play that blade down in the pitching wedge but then go all the way up to a fly-hi in the long irons because the MOI is there. Like a game improvement club, even though it looks the part of a players club.

Tom Brassell: Yeah. You mentioned now the two iron or the two driving iron in the set, back in the day, when we would go two or one irons back then, nothing felt worse than hitting that one iron or two iron on the toe. Nothing probably feels better than mishitting one of these and seeing where it turns out.

Chris Voshall: You’re totally right, the one iron today or the two iron today versus the two iron of old, is a completely different golf club. It’s still very strong lofted, it’s designed to not go crazy high, but it’s designed to go a long way but now it’s level of forgiveness with the 1770 maraging steel phase, tungsten on the toe, hollow-body construction, X30 body material, all sorts of cool technologies built into a two iron. That two iron now plays like a five or six iron from back in the day in terms of ease of launch and forgiveness.

Tom Brassell: Yeah. Chris, the other thing you talked about was the unique feel that Mizuno was known for, and you have such a following of players not only on tour, but also around the country. I remember when I interviewed Stacy Lewis a few years back, she said, “I wasn’t going play anything else because of the feel of Mizuno and my history with Mizuno all the way back as a kid.” The only way I know to describe it is to, like you said, get the pitching wedge, get the nine iron or something, and hit it and feel for it yourself. Is there really any other way?

Chris Voshall: Well, it’s a somewhat subjective thing, but it’s something we take so serious. There’s no better feeling on the planet than hitting a pure muscle back golf club, you’re just feeling everything in that club, you’re feeling all the vibrations, and at Mizuno, we really try to make sure we’re giving you the most feedback possible.

You’ll hear a lot of our competitors talk about vibration dampeners, or vibration management systems, or whatever they want to call it, those are all trying to take feel away and almost take some harsh feelings out of the hands. At Mizuno, we want to make sure you feel everything because that’s the proof that the golf club is performing right, it’s vibrating right, it’s giving you that feedback. If you miss it, you want to slightly know that you miss it so you can understand why that ball potentially came up a yard or two short. With our grain flow forging process, we really tightly control the grains and how those grains are going to vibrate through impact, and what that vibration is going to do is it’s going to give you a longer duration of vibration. That vibrations is going to last longer, you’re going to feel it in your hands more, it’s going to feel like that ball is sticking, melting to that face.

If you haven’t really experienced hitting a muscle back short iron, try it, because it really delivers a unique feel, and we try to bring that feel all the way up through all of our golf clubs.

Tom Brassell: Chris, we preach the importance all the time to our customers of being custom fit, and it’s almost with Mizuno it’s an everyday thing. I would say over 90% of the clubs that we order for our customers from Mizuno are just that, they’re ordered, they’re not off the rack, but this is almost like it’s a requirement because you’re literally picking every club that goes in your bag. If you were going to transition from muscle back to the progressive club, you might want to do it in a seven iron, you might want to do it in a six, so it’s even more important to go see a professional fitter and get fit for these, right?

Chris Voshall: That’s exactly right. We always preach fitting. There’s no point in getting a set of golf clubs … They’re an investment these days, so you want one that’s going to fit you perfectly, and this whole line was designed around fitting. We launched it in full sets, but everything that we did between these sets was designed so that you don’t necessarily go out and buy the one off the rack. By matching all the head-weights, by matching specs, by matching offsets, by matching toplines, head-weights, all these things, we want to make sure that you have the right five iron for you, the right six iron for you, the right seven iron for you is because for every player that’s a little bit different. Some players want to make that split in a different spot, some players are looking for long irons that they don’t work, only go high, some are still looking to work a five iron, so it’s really a discussion with your fitter and in the shop to figure out what’s going to work best for you. It’s not just the head, it’s the shaft, the grip, the length, the lie, all those things that you really need to work with the fitter to make sure you’re getting tiled in.

Tom Brassell: You made a great point, Chris, you’re making an investment, and an investment in a new set of clubs today, I heard this somewhere, is the equivalent of almost like buying a refrigerator. Back in the day, it wasn’t that way. Now you’re buying what’s an equivalent of an appliance that you’re … Why not take advantage of the fitting process? It costs nothing, and you’re absolutely sure you’re going have the right clubs for your game in your bag.

Chris Voshall: That’s actually right. We really try to preach that with how we set our clubs up, how we do our pricing, we don’t want … Just because we chose to put, call it a dynamic to stock shaft, that’s not the right shaft for every body, which is why we go about saying, “You pick whatever shaft you want, steel, graphite, doesn’t matter, we’ll give it to you for the exact same cost.” Just because you fit one versus another, you shouldn’t be penalized because of the one we chose to be the stock. Really, yeah, it doesn’t cost any more, all it does is benefit you further to take that extra step with your fitter to make sure that you have the club that works for you the best.

Tom Brassell: Yeah. In most cases, if you get fit on a Monday, depending on what part of the country you live in, you might have that set of clubs in your hands before the end of the week.

Chris Voshall: Totally. We really want to make sure that once we have that order, once it enters Mizuno, it’s out our doors in two days. Depending on how close you are to Atlanta, Georgia, that could mean you have it in three days, four days, or five days, probably worst-case across the country. We want to make sure that you get fit on a Monday, or you get fit on a Saturday, that next weekend you’re playing your new clubs.

Tom Brassell: Chris, I appreciate this so much. Thanks for carving out the time for us. Do you have any final words for our listeners from Mizuno Golf?

Chris Voshall: Let me think what to say. All I got to say is if you’re a Mizuno fan, we appreciate you. If you’re not, try this new MP18 line of clubs because I think we’re going to convert a lot of people.

Tom Brassell: Perfect way to close it. Thanks so much, Chris. We’ll do it again soon, hopefully.

Chris Voshall: Okay. Great talking to you.

Tom Brassell: The Mizuno family of MP18 irons, it’s literally a fantasy draft for every club in your bag. You’re walking through wedge, all the way up to your woods, and picking the club that’s going to work best for you and your game. Make sure to visit one of the Worldwide Golf shops locations, be it Edwin Watts Golf, Golfers Warehouse, Vans, Unita, the Golf Mart, Roger Dunn, make sure to get in, give these a try, and if you like them, like what you feel, go through club by club and make sure that you get fit for the right set for your bag. Well, special thanks to Chris Voshall for taking the time today and to you, our listeners. We’ll do it again next time when we have another episode of Golf Better at worldwidegolfshops.com. So long, everyone.

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