Review: Mizuno MP-57 Irons
A well crafted set of players irons with that legendary Mizuno feel
I played my first Mizuno irons, the MX-23s a couple years ago. I still remember the feeling the first time I flushed a 6 iron with those clubs...wow. I have played, demoed, tested numerous other irons since, and really, for me at least, nothing compares to the buttery soft feel of a well struck Mizuno. I spent a good part of 2007 and part of 2006 playing with a set of Mizuno MP-33 irons.
If you are not familiar, they are regarded as one of the easiest to play muscle back irons created. Of course, they are blades, and while I love them when I am playing well, they certainly are not the most forgiving club in the world. I had tried the MP-60 and MP-32 irons in the past, and did not find them to be as soft feeling or any more forgiving than the MP-33 irons. In comes the MP-57.
When Mizuno released information about the MP-57s, my jaw dropped. Limited off-set, Increased forgiveness, but at the same time a playable sole and the potential for that same buttery soft Mizuno feel. They haven't disappointed. There are a lot of pictures in this review. As always, if you want to see a larger version of the image, just click on it. You can also see most of the MP-57 Pictures I took on my Flickr site.
The New MP-57 irons are a crowning achievement in the evolution of MIZUNO's award-winning Grain Flow Forging® and Cut Muscle technologies. The Product Development team undertook the task of making the MP-57's the first MP iron with a Full Cavity, resulting in a significantly larger sweet area than any other iron in the history of the MP line. Along with increased forgiveness, the MP-57's produce a slightly higher ball flight in the long irons, and a mid trajectory in the scoring irons. They also deliver the solid feel and shot making ability that the MP iron player craves. Most importantly, the MP-57's achieve all these playing aspects, yet in a classic head profile that appeals to better players.
The ideal combination of solid feel and workability, with unbelievable forgiveness, make the MP-57s the most playable MP irons ever.
First ever Full Cavity MP iron for increased forgiveness with a reinforcing muscle pad for enhanced feel.
Innovative Cut Muscle design provides ideal COG location, perfect trajectory, enhanced solid feel, and complete ball control.
Exclusive Grain Flow Forged®, 1025E Pure Select mild carbon steel provides the ultimate soft, solid, consistent feel.
Durable Double nickel chrome plated finish.
Modified U-grooves produce the ideal spin rate, for maximum playability in all conditions.
Rolled leading edge, cambered mid-sole, and rolled trailing edge deliver consistent striking ability from all types of lies.
The clubs I am reviewing are fitted with ProjectX shafts. Here are the standard specifications for the clubs. Since these clubs are forged, they are quite easy to have adjusted by your local club fitter.
As with all of the clubs in the Mizuno MP line, the MP-57 is a clean, elegant looking instrument. Even with the large cavity, there is nothing there to distract you. The club is all about business, and helping you get the job done. The MP-57 is actually pretty similar in size to the MP-33 and MP-67 irons. I did not have an MP-60 on hand to take side by side pictures, however, it is also similar in size and obviously appearance to the MP-60. Even the top line and sole of the MP-57 (MP-57 Top Line Picture - Right) is quite similar to that of the MP-33 and MP-67 irons (Picture - Below). For a forgiving, almost game improvement class iron, there are a lot of playability qualities inherent in this design. The MP-33's top line is slightly less noticeable than either the MP-67 or MP-57. But holding the MP-57 next to the MP-67 at address, it is difficult to distinguish between them. This is a good thing in my book, and I would guess in the minds of anyone who likes the look of a classic blade at address, but wants the forgiveness of modern, technologically 'advanced' irons.
As you can see above, the MP-57 (left) has a slightly beefier heel area than the MP-67 (right). In the Pitching Wedge it is difficult to see, but as you go up in club, the MP-57 is slightly more offset than the MP-67. The MP-67 sticks to 0.110" for most of the irons, where as the MP-57 gets up to 0.160" for the 3 iron. The irons pictured above are all Pitching Wedges. You will have to drop down to the MX series to see a noticeable difference in club head size.
As you can see above, the MX-23 (which is very similar to the new MX-25) is a tad bit larger than the MP-57 and MP-33 from toe to heel. It also adds more weight to the heel, presumably to help promote a draw. There is also considerably more weight on the perimeter and down low to help get the ball up. A little later in the review you'll see a shot of the sole of the MX-23 vs the MP-57 as well, which shows another area of difference.
I usually combine Look and Feel...but come on now, this is Mizuno. People say feel is subjective. To me, there is no better feeling than a Mizuno forged iron. Well struck, they are soft as butter, smooth as silk. The MP-33 irons are, bar none, the best feeling irons I have ever struck. The MP-57s are similar to the MP-33, though not quite the same. Given the amount of 'meat' behind the ball with the MP-33s, this is not surprising. Now, compared to the MP-32 and MP-60 irons, I really cannot tell a huge difference in terms of feel. The are very, very similar, to me.
When I was playing with the MP-33 irons full time, I was absolutely in love with the pitching wedge, it felt so amazingly soft. I couldn't wait to get 135 yards in so I could hit that club. Well, unfortunately I hit a rock with it at some point and...well that stunk. End result was I replaced it with an MP-67 pitching wedge. The MP-67 felt nice on full swings, though never had the same buttery soft feel on 30-40 yard pitches. The MP-57 is in the same boat. I love it on the full swings, though it's not quite as soft as the MP-33. Again, given the design, that's to be expected. I'll say this much, I'll definitely be playing the MP-57s more often than the MP-33s...and we'll get into why now...
These clubs really live up to the hype. I was trying to hit the ball all over the face, and while not as forgiving as say the Taylor Made R7 CGB Max irons, anywhere near the center of the club face and you'll get nice distance out of these clubs. The nice thing is, hit them a little off the center, and you know you're off the sweet spot. That was something that always bothered me with the Super Game Improvement irons, I could never tell if I hit the sweet spot, or a little left...little right..how do I 'improve' my game with that kind of feedback?
Again we can see similarities between the MP-57 and MP-67 irons. The leading edge of the MP-57 (seen above) is very similar to that of the MP-57 and even MP-33 irons. I never had a problem with the club digging, and was able to play with the club face open or a little closed quite easily. The sole is also an absolutely perfect width. Knockdown shots are a breeze. The club face is very easy to align. It really is a precision instrument in your hands. If you look back at some of my reviews of super game improvement irons, like the Nike Sumo irons, you'll notice just how huge the soles of these clubs can be. This is great for high handicap players who need some help, but, takes a lot of options out of the bag. I always had a hard time hitting low, high spin shots with clubs with wide soles. You can argue whether anyone but PGA Tour players should be trying such things, but I find it fun!
I was playing these clubs in a Project X 5.5 shaft. So perhaps a little weaker than the Rifle 6.0s in my MP-33s. Distance was pretty similar, not much different. Sure, they're a little shorter than the TM Burner Irons, but they're also at least a degree weaker, with the PW being 47*. In any event, when it comes to irons, distance should not be your primary concern. You can always club up or down, play with the lofts or swap shafts. What I am concerned about with irons is getting the ball close to the hole, with consistent distance. The MP-57s delivered consistency when it came to distance. I never found myself unexpectedly airmailing a ball 15 yards over the green. These really are remarkable clubs. If you have been considering the MP-60s, MP-32s or MP-67s, I would suggest you at least hit the MP-57s. You'll be doing yourself a huge favor on those days where your swing is just a little off.
About a year ago, Terry Koehler (The Wedge Guy) wrote up a great post about Blades vs Cavity Backs. He discusses how people may be doing themselves a disservice by playing so called game improvement irons. Having played the MP-33s for quite some time as well as various game improvement irons, I really do believe these MP-57 irons provide some of the best of both worlds. The iron is very playable, provides instant quality feedback, is very accurate, while at the same time is very forgiving.
Now, I am certainly in no place to be telling anyone what they should or shouldn't play, but if you've been considering playing blades, or are struggling to score playing blades now, do yourself a favor and check out the MP-57s. I certainly cannot see these clubs leaving my bag anytime soon. Find a full set of Mizuno MP-57 irons on eBay between $600 and $700. Just remember, if the price looks too good to be true, it probably is. If you are not ready to shell out $600-$900 for a new set of irons, but still want to see what this whole Mizuno feel thing is all about, try and find a set of used MP-33 irons on eBay, a decent set should run you about $200. If nothing else, they're a great set of irons to practice with, you'll get instant, definitive feedback on your shots.
Editors Note: Nearly 20 years later and I still love these MP-33 irons. I had been playing with them the past couple months during the offseason and just was taking the 5/7/9 iron out with me and manufacturing shots. They are a super fun set of irons, and still pretty forgiving for what they are. Regarding the MP-57s, they hold a soft spot in my heart, as I had my first hole-in-one with the 8 iron from that set!