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Mizuno JPX-850 Forged Irons: Forgiveness for better players

Kiel ChristiansonBy Kiel Christianson,
Senior Writer
Mizuno JPX-850 Forged Irons
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Mizuno JPX-850 Forged Irons: The look and distance say "game improvement," but the feel and workability say "player's iron." (Courtesy of Mizuno)

I have written about golf clubs for a long time now, and I remember when forged game-improvement irons first appeared on the market. The target audience was higher handicappers who needed forgiveness but also wanted some degree of workability and feel.

Since then, dozens of these high-end, high-quality forged game improvement irons have come out, all with this same philosophy.

But one can approach this class of irons from a different angle. What if you start with a forged iron intended for better players and add the lower center of gravity and perimeter weighting to provide some more length and forgiveness for lower handicappers?

I'm not a golf club designer, but it seems that beginning with a "player's" iron and adding forgiveness might take you to a slightly different end point than starting with a game improvement iron and adding feel.

The new Mizuno JPX-850 Forged Irons ($1,000, steel shafts; $1,100 graphite) have the feel of a high-end, low-handicap iron, but with unique features that provide more stability and distance for better players without sacrificing any workability.

Playing the Mizuno JPX-850 Forged Irons

At the heart of the JPX-850 Forged Irons is boron. Mizuno is the first clubmaker to incorporate boron into the forging process as an alloy. Using this strong, heavy elemental metal into their 1025 steel allowed Mizuno to build a much thinner face, which in turn has the largest sweet spot of any forged iron on the market.

All the hallmarks of a game-improvement iron are here: progressive offset, wider sole with a beveled leading edge, perimeter weighting, and a pocket cavity that increases with size as loft decreases.

This said, if you were to hit a few balls blindfolded with the JPX-850 Forged Irons, you'd probably think you were swinging forged blades, as the sweet spot of the 850s is as buttery as you'd expect from Mizuno. And, also as expected, if you hit a few off the toe, you'd certainly be able to feel that, too. What you wouldn't know, if you were blindfolded, is how far the ball was still going on those off-center hits.

On the course, the JPX-850 Forged Irons are precise and powerful. I felt every bit of each pured shot, and each mis-struck shot. Working the ball on the range in either direction was better than any "game improvement" iron I've ever tested. And those pured shots seemed to fly forever, even in cold and windy conditions.

The only downside to having such a finely tuned instrument in my hands was that, on the relatively frequent occasions when I made less than a fluid, sound swing, the JPX-850 Forged Irons were almost too responsive. Occasional unintentional draws and fades appeared when I wasn't concentrating very closely on the kind of shot I was trying to hit. Perhaps I'd been lulled into a false sense of security after playing another company's forged game-improvement irons for a while -- the kind designed from the perspective of providing feel for less-skilled players.

In any case, no matter what the contact or resulting ball flight, the boron-fueled feedback was so immediate and exquisite that I could tell immediately how I'd hit it, and where it was headed.

The verdict on the Mizuno JPX-850 Forged Irons

Boron is anything but boring. The JPX-850 Forged Irons are every bit as long as any game-improvement irons, and perhaps more workable than any on the market. But really, calling these irons "game improvement" may be a bit of a misnomer.

Mizuno recommends them for players with handicaps from 6-16. And the feel of these irons is not the same as you get from traditional "game improvement" irons that have been "softened up" to provide more feel. Instead, the JPX-850 Forged Irons feel more like low-handicapper irons that have been "beefed up" to improve distance while maintaining the feel of buttery blades.

For more information, visit mizunogolf.com

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Mizuno JPX-850

Kiel Christianson has lived, worked, traveled and golfed extensively on three continents. As senior writer and equipment editor for WorldGolf.com, he has reviewed courses, resorts, and golf academies from California to Ireland, including his home course, Lake of the Woods G.C. in Mahomet, Ill. Read his golf blog here and follow him on Twitter @GolfWriterKiel.

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