Despite its reputation Mizuno isn’t just about muscle back blades, they also produce performance-enhancing irons for the slightly higher handicappers out there.
But this is Mizuno, and they were never going to produce shovels with silly cranked-up lofts. Instead, the new MP-20 HMB irons are essentially just chunkier, hollow-headed versions of the MB irons which I really liked.
The idea is that they can offer more distance and forgiveness for those golfers who need it, whilst still appealing to better players as long iron replacements as part of a combo set. I was intrigued to see how they performed.
What's It All About?
These performance hybrid irons, inspired by the long irons that most tour players now have in the bag, come with a sharp “tour ready” profile. They have a forged carbon steel construction as well as nickel chrome and copper layering for added feel.
The forgiveness is similar to the MP-20 MMC irons but its larger sole and 12g tungsten weights helps flight the ball higher. The tungsten weights aren’t present in the 9 iron or wedge as these are the scoring clubs, and do not need the extra launch.
Although these are clearly more game improvement than the MP-20 MB irons, you can see Mizuno has still made them as playable as possible. It says these clubs are aimed at players wanting higher ball speed with the same feel and shot shaping that the company is known for. They are also keen to promote them as part of a combo set at the top of the bag for elite and tour players looking for powerful, slightly more forgiving long irons.
Chris Voshall, Mizuno Golf Brand Manager commented:
A few years back it was a surprise to see truly elite tour players with more than one long iron replacement - but now that we've found their acceptance point on offset, size and proportions, there's a new set who are open-minded to the 5 iron and beyond. We're excited to see what happens when they experiment with the HMB.
I tested the HMB’s at The Range in Manchester, using their Foresight GC2 and HMT technology to measure the numbers from 10 shots using an 8 iron.
I then took them for a spin outdoors at Sale GC, recreating shots from the fairway, rough, short irons and long irons. I was hoping to be proven right - that these irons would suit my eye and my game.
Mizuno MP-20 HMB Iron Review
The biggest compliment I can give to the HMB is that, for something billed as a 'performance hybrid iron', it doesn’t look like a brick when put alongside the MMC and MB.
The sole is thicker but you can’t see this at address, the top line is medium in size, but importantly you can't see anything hanging out of the back. Only until you reach the very shortest irons do they start to look a little chunky. I prefer my wedge to 8-iron to be a little sleeker at address.
Mizuno has done a great job to fit all of this technology into a very compact head. The finish is brushed satin, which is different from the MMC and MB. It is a matte finish so reduces the glare for those of you lucky enough to play in the sunshine.
The HMB's hollow head produces a slightly different noise to what I was expecting, but nothing like the level you would get from your average performance iron.
The hit felt very soft yet also solid at the same time. I know this sounds like a contradiction, but that is what this club is. It’s like an optical illusion but in a good way - Mizuno has still managed to make this look and feel sleek.
I didn’t hit this particularly well during indoor testing, but I would probably put this down to the fact that I tried all three MP-20 models at the same time and I was in love with MMC. And like any loving relationship that ends abruptly I found it hard to get over them!
When I was finally over the break up, I took the HMB onto the golf course and their length, stability and forgiveness shone through. The lofts are the same as the MMC but a little stronger than the MB, so this is to be expected.
On The Course
These performed well on the golf course, and the forgiveness benefits were proven straight away when I was faced with a 4 iron shot whilst comparing to the other MP-20 models.
I felt I hit the same slappy, double-cross with both this club and MB when attempting a fade from the fairway. Both shots finished 40 feet left of the pin, however this club managed to reach pin high whilst the MB iron barely made the front edge of the green - coming up about 12 yards shorter.
This confirmed what I had seen in testing earlier, as the 8 iron was averaging 5 yards extra carry than the MB iron, thanks to a couple of miles an hour extra ball speed.
It also performed very well out of the thick, wet rough, consistently finishing pin-high with little club twisting. I did feel like a couple of shots came off like low-spin 'flyers' but the soft greens made this harder to judge as nearly every shot was stopping nice and quick - even out of the rough. Perhaps some further testing would be required if I was really serious about putting these into the bag...
I always feel better testing clubs on the course as that’s where I get my 'inner data' from, and towards the end of the day's testing I had started to warm to them, particularly the long irons. They moved well enough in the air and had the forgiveness when needed.
Mizuno MP-20 HMB Iron Verdict
They weren’t as hot as other manufacturers' hybrid muscle back models - such as the TaylorMade P790 - but personally I wouldn’t expect this as Mizuno have always been true to lofts and focus on precision and feel from an iron.
They wouldn’t be the first manufacturer you think about when considering purchasing performance hybrid irons however I do think they are worth a go especially if you fancy putting a combination set together.
Would I Use It?
I personally would be happy to game these clubs in partnership with the MMCs. They’d be ideal for my long irons as I need the help in distance and flight but I don’t like to see a 'shovel' head.
However I wouldn't be too keen on putting the full set in the bag, as the short irons are just a little too thick for my liking.
- Plenty of forgiveness
- Sleek looks
- Genuine improvement to overall performance
- Long irons would be ideal replacements in a combo set
- Distance gained is minimal compared to MMC
- Wedge and 9 iron are a little chunky