When blades first started becoming a little larger with perimieter weighting back in the 1990's they were still all forged 100% steel heads without open cavities, added metals, hidden pockets or undercover weights thrown in.
In the last 5 years or so, heads of the irons that are a step up from blades have become bigger still and offer much more forgiveness, but at the cost of a little feel and maybe a touch of blade style. Lately I have been lamenting to friends that there is nothing to fill this widening gap and then Mizuno bring out the JPX900 Tour irons.
It's almost like they read my mind as the JPX900 Tour is a forged from 1025E Carbon Steel in their usual Grain Flow way to harmomise the feel and sound.
Based on the MP-64 head it looks like a blade with perimeter weighting and a sizeable chunk of this is in the base of the head to lower the CG and help get the ball up a little easier.
The sole follows the same style as the MP-64, but is a little wider especially towards the toe area which will help with the MOI and forgiveness.
Through the turf it is ideal and the re-assurance of the generous sized head works well with the blade sized looks. It's like that Mini Clubman car that looks like a Mini, acts like a Mini, but is the size of a Ford Focus.
That means the Clubman doesn't feel as nippy and easy to park as a 'normal' Mini and that is the only thing with the JPX900 Tour. It looks and plays like a blade, but the feel is not quite as sharp or luxurious as an MP iron and the forgiveness is not as great as you would expect.
Don't get me wrong, I love the bigger heads that don't use cavities, but maybe the extra size or additional weight lower down behind the ball is not giving out the right vibes.
You can blend the Tour with the other JPX900 irons as the lofts are the same from 3 to 6 iron and just 1° weaker in the 7 to PW.
There is a choice of shafts available through the Mizuno Swing DNA fitting service, but the stock shaft is the True Temper Dynamic Gold AMT. This starts with lighter shafts in the long irons and transitions throught set to standard weights in the short irons to help improve swing speeds.
Some Mizuno lovers may also have an issue with the JPX branding. For all intents and purposes this is a big MP iron and could trace its ancestry back to the excellent oversized MP-57. However it's branded JPX and has the sandblasted finish rather than the polished chrome of an MP iron, which could give some pause for thought when it really shouldn't.
Maybe Mizuno are heading to having a JPX for everyone to wean single figure players off blades, which could be no bad thing for your golfing well being. Just look at how great the JPX900 Forged is and most single figure players could play that. I would even be tempted to drop the JPX900 Forged or even the JPX900 Hot Metal 4-iron into a Tour set.
The Tour therefore is trying to be an MP with JPX forgiveness and falling between the two camps. If you want blade feel and can be consistent enough with them, then just go for an MP. If you want JPX forgiveness with a forged feel and a bit of shiny shiny then try out the JPX900 Forged.
I say all this with a heavy heart as I do like the JPX900 Tour concept as I think the market needs this style of iron and hopefully Mizuno will continue to develop it further in the JPX or MP line.