Mizuno have been making a serious effort over the last few years to really upgrade their metal wood offering, which has historically struggled to live up to the same standard as their exceptional irons.
Mizuno staffer Keith Mitchell put their ST-Z 230 in play last season and finished the 2023 PGA Tour season at the top of the Total Driving rankings, and for 2024 the brand are adding a new ST-Max 230 driver, fairway and hybrid.
The ST-Max 230 is said to provide the same performance that you'd get in other ST-230 metals, but in an ultra-stable and friendlier-looking profile which is designed to deliver predictable straight ball flights no matter where you strike it on the face.
Who Is It Aimed At?
I'd say that this driver is pretty much a 'middle of the road' offering which will appeal to a wide range of golfers. It provides a friendly look at address with a really solid, forgiving feel and ball flight which should inspire plenty of confidence that you're going to hit the ball solidly.
If you're somebody who already uses Mizuno gear, you may want to match up your woods to your irons and they have the same premium look and feel that the brand have become known for. With an RRP of £499 it certainly isn't cheap, so you'll have to be pretty serious about your game to consider investing.
Mizuno say that the new low profile, wide footprint ST-Max 230 is a driver which is the maximum 460cc capacity but looks larger.
They have added 54 grams of back weighting while expanding the Cortech Chamber - an extra weight which takes stress from the clubface and generates more energy to the ball - for their most stable driver ever.
The Chamber has also been shifted closer towards the clubface to maintain ball speeds across the face, whilst a new Beta
Rich Ti LFS face is made from a lighter, faster face material to encourage faster speeds and more distance.
The driver also features a slightly longer 45.75 inch shaft to generate faster club head speeds, which is made possible by the extra forgiveness of the driver, as well as a Quick Switch Hosel with 4 degrees of adjustability.
Mizuno ST-Max 230 Driver Review
Looks and Feel
Ever since Mizuno made the decision to switch from the blue driver crown to black, I think their drivers have looked fantastic and this latest addition to the ST-230 range continues that pattern.
Whilst there is quite a lot going on both on the sole and the crown, I think it looks premium and tech-filled and the use of the grey carbon look on the crown actually helps to make the head look bigger which is great for those lacking confidence off the tee.
Down by the ball, the driver sits square and looks friendly, while the Mizuno logo and the small touch of blue around the back edge make it really easy to frame the ball up.
The blue Cortech Chamber adds a clear bit of 'visible tech' to the clubhead and I'm actually a fan of this - it adds a bit more interest to the design whilst providing a good reminder of the help you're receiving from the club.
Mizuno promise that this is the most stable driver they have produced and I would say that it felt extremely solid at impact, with barely any twisting of the face even when struck off the toe or the heel.
It's not particularly loud at impact, and the ball doesn't seem to spring off the face which isn't always necessarily a bad thing, but I think it did give me the feeling that this club is more about stability and forgiveness than all out speed - something which leads me nicely on to the performance section...
I headed down to Hukd Golf to put this driver through its paces using the Foresight GC Hawk launch monitor.
The overall consistency of the driver was good, with perhaps a very slight bias towards the left side of the fairway. The difference between my shortest and longest carries was only a touch over 10 yards which is really impressive, and I found that the results of this driver were predictable.
For a golfer who has spent A LOT of time standing over the ball with no idea where it's going to go in the past, predictability is a good thing!
Like a lot of other manufacturers, Mizuno are putting a premium on forgiveness for 2024 which perhaps explains why the ball speed and carry distances were a little lower than I'd ideally want.
On average my ball speed was just under 145mph, producing an average carry of 243 yards, which isn't bad, but ideally I'd be looking for ball speeds in the high 140s and a carry distance of closer to 250 yards, which is what I currently see with my Callaway Epic Speed Driver.
I will caveat by saying that the ST-Max 230 was not fitted for me, so I'm sure the proper specs would be able to squeeze a few extra yards out too. But if you're more interested in forgiveness than all-out distance, this driver definitely seemed to fit the bill as I was really impressed with how stable it felt.
Mizuno ST-Max 230 Driver Verdict
The ST-Max 230 felt like a really solid overall driver which provided further evidence that Mizuno's wood offering continues to get better year-on-year.
It perhaps didn't have the same pop off the face as the likes of TaylorMade's Qi10 or Callaway's Paradym Ai Smoke, but felt forgiving and looked great down by the ball too.
A price point of £499 puts it among the rest of the competition and is about the 'new normal' for a driver in 2024, although I do think it is quite high when you consider that Mizuno are trying to get a seat at the table with the bigger brands.
Cobra's new Darkspeed drivers are priced at £429 so to think that Mizuno have gone in £70 higher is a bit of a surprise to me, even if the overall performance was good.
Would I Use It?
I would use it as I enjoyed how easy it was to line up and strike, and I got plenty of confidence thanks to both the consistency and forgiveness it provided. If it was my money though, I'm not sure I'd pick it over the likes of Callaway or TaylorMade's latest options.
Mizuno ST-Max 230 Driver Pros and Cons
If you enjoyed this, you may also like:
Cobra Darkspeed X Driver Review
Mizuno T24 Wedge Review