If I was to tell you that we had a chance to try the latest Mizuno clubs with CNC milled grooves on the face, improved topline alignment and a soft forged feel, you would probably think we are talking irons. However, we are actually talking about the MP-A range of putters from Mizuno.
When you think "Mizuno", chances are your next thought would not be "putters". Mizuno understand that and whilst they don't place a lot of emphasis on marketing their putter ranges, the MP-A range is actually pretty good.
We got our hands on the Anser-styled A306 (left) and oversized-blade A304 (right) models and put them to the test on the practice green as well as the course.
The entire range fits very nicely with Mizuno's brand. The sharp, executive-like looks are very simple and easy on the eye. The Black Ion Plating (IP) finish is contrasted by the new white topline alignment aid. Bevelled into the top of the face, the line adds a sharp white line at address that does improve alignment.
You find yourself almost subconsciously using the thin white line to line up behind the ball at address. Carefully designed, the white line blends into the face and the putter head very sharply, creating a simple, contrasting, solid look.
Too often, putting alignment has been aggressive and whilst it may improve your alignment, it can too busy, oversized or just ugly-looking behind the ball. With the MP-A range, you get the benefits of improved alignment in a design that is as modest as it is attractive. The white line looks more like a bevelled polished top line of the
putter reflecting the light, giving a high class look at address.
But why does a putter need grooves? Grooves on a putter are designed for two reasons:
Firstly, they grip the dimples on a golf ball, lifting it out of its resting position and sending the ball on its way towards the hole with a smoother roll with less skidding.
Secondly, the less material/mass that comes into contact with the ball, the softer the feel at impact. Unsurprisingly, Mizuno have prioritized feel in this range and the putters do feel good.
The range offered a nice balance of a soft, forged feel combined with a strong, powerful strike. Not many putts were left short and a simple pendulum action on short putts sent the ball towards the hole with good pace. Putt after putt, the roll was consistent, true and reasonably soft.
Truth be told, the grooves on the Mizuno MP-A range are more modest than many grooves on the market. Milled directly into the mild carbon steel head the 6 grooves are not as deep as some other putter brands even though they produced a good balance of feel and performance.
The grip is equally soft, and tacky. It is attractively designed and branded and begs you to roll a putt once its in your hands. The headcovers are a mix of leather and felt offering a snug home for your putter, whilst looking very like a Mizuno boot for children.
Unusually the shafts come in half-inch club lengths of 33.5 or 34.5 inches, rather than the more usual 34 and 35 inches. Whilst the shorter length may be a little too short for most the 34.5 is a very good option. It still offers a decent length whilst giving the room to keep your arms straighter.
As is the case with all Mizuno clubs the MP-A putters are crafted, not made, for a specific purpose. Forged steel, CNC milling, subtle alignment improvements have all been designed and engineered to create a putter worthy of gracing Mizuno's runbird logo.
The range is not going to change the market or pop up in bags of amateurs all across the country. In fact, MP-A range is not available in the USA, which is again a sign that Mizuno don't consider this a mass market putter, but more of a premium range for Mizuno loyalists and putter traditionalists.
The RRP is towards the top end of the market which will mean this range is competing with the best Scotty Cameron and Ping have to offer. However, if you have the budget to improve your putting and want something simple but effective, this is certainly one to consider. We think it is the best range of putters Mizuno have made to date.