Mizuno has always been pretty good at creating classy looking fairways with generous sized heads and the JPX850 fairway continues this fine tradition.
It replaces the JPX825 fairway and is a sister to the JPX EZ fairway and straight away when you compare it at address you can see two big changes.
Firstly, the head is a much more rounded shape on the JPX850, which I think looks much better and will appeal more to traditionalists, of which Mizuno will have more than a few.
It is also a larger head, as the 173cc 5-wood JPX850 head above is bigger than the JPX825 3-wood head beside it. Make space because the JPX850 3-wood is another 7cc bigger at 180cc.
The JPX850 face is also a little shallower with a lower toe than the JPX EZ, showing how the dimensions, whilst similar, can create a very different looking club.
Secondly it is blue. Very blue, but I like it because it manages to be bold and classy at the same time and gives the JPX850 a better visual appeal than previous blue heads Mizuno has done.
Turn the club over and you see the new Shockwave sole, which looks like they have inserted part of an accordion in a golf club. No prizes for guessing that this is there to allow the face to flex more at impact for more ball speed. You think it should flex when you touch it, but it is all firm steel, which is a change from the titanium JPX825 head.
On the course the ShockWave Sole did its job as the feel at impact was much more lively than the JPX825 and the JPX EZ fairways.
When you caught it right out of the middle the feel was fantastic, almost like the response you get when you nail one in the Tiger Woods PGA Tour game, with reverberations running up the shaft and a great explosive, solid sound.
It was addictive getting the sweet spot feeling and on off centre hits the forgiveness was still very good. The sound was a little more variable with a higher pitched zing, so it was good feedback, but a touch more consistency would be nice if you are being hyper-critical.
The crown of the JPX850 fairway has also been modified to flex in line with the sole using what Mizuno has called a Waffle Crown. Basically underneath that lovely blue head the crown is a lattice like a waffle that keeps the strength, but allows the weight from between the bars of the waffle to be moved lower in the head.
Having the weight lower moves the CG lower and means that those low centre strikes will come out better, ideal for fairway woods and hybrids. The JPX850 certainly was equally at home on the fairway or the tee and this will be a great all round fairway for a lot of players from low single figures and up into the teens.
The new feature for the JPX850 is the first adjustable hosel in a fairway for Mizuno, which they have christened Quick Switch. This enables you change the loft +/- 2° in 1° steps, plus +/- 1° in an upright lie setting.
This is quite a wide range and combining the Quick Switch with the three initial head lofts of 15°, 18° and 21°, you can get the same loft in two different heads.
Having been at a previous fitting where a 13.5° head adjusted up to 15° was better performing than a 15° head at 15°, the dynamics created by the initial head loft do make a difference. Therefore, if you want a 17° JPX850 fairway then getting professional advice is key to knowing whether you go up 2° on a 3-wood or down 1° on a 5-wood.
Each head will have its own characteristics and for instance the 5-wood I tested gave a much higher flight than the 3-wood, as you would expect, but adjusting it to 16° and then to 20° did not visually seem to vary the inherent trajectory that much.
The JPX850 comes with a choice of Fujikura Orochi shafts again and it is good to see a manufacturer sticking to the same make and model of shaft as this has been the shaft of choice for at least the last 3 fairways from Mizuno. It is a very good quality shaft and very stable so you won't go wrong with it, but there are plenty of other custom fit shafts options if you need them too.
Overall I think the Mizuno JPX850 fairway is a significant improvement on the JPX825. I love the larger head with its more rounded shape and blue colour that gives the impression that this has been lovingly created in some mysterious Oriental temple, which it probably has.
However it is not just a pretty face as it does go too. The feel from the middle is worth selling your first born for and the forgiveness of the large head makes the JPX850 a very playable fairway.
The adjustable hosel is a good selling feature and gives the fitter a few more options, but I would have been interested to try this as a fixed hosel too, as that would have saved some more weight for Mizuno to play around with.
Mizuno are moving the JPX850 into the premium end of the market and everything they have done to improve the JPX850 warrants this. It's success will depend on whether the looks and performance will tempt you stretch your wallet to buy it in a competitive sector.
Regardless of this, the JPX850 fairway is definitely one to put on your test list and then you can figure out the money later.