Mizuno JPX-825 Pro Irons
(Written By: Tony Covey) When you consider the offerings in the marketplace today, it's possible Mizuno's JPX-825 Pro (released fall 2012) is the ultimate tweener iron. If nothing else, it's one of the equipment industry's greatest enigmas.
At address it's hard not to notice the offset, but a closer look at the head reveals a design that's more compact than we're accustomed to seeing from a GI design. But then you notice the mid-thick topline, and the 45° pitching wedge, and think maybe this really is a game-improvement iron; that is until the narrow sole starts you thinking otherwise again.
The Mizuno JPX-825 Pro looks like a game-improvement iron. And then it doesn't. And then it does again. And then it starts looking like a player's cavity back all over again. As I said, it's an enigma. It's a game-improvement iron with enough legit-player-appeal that you'll find it taking divots on the PGA Tour. And yet, Mizuno says it's forgiving for recreational golfers with handicaps from 6 to 18.
As the progression in the nomenclature suggests, the Mizuno JPX-825 Pro is the follow-up to Mizuno's wildly popular JPX-800 Pro irons which reviewed in February of 2011 (previous generation review system). While they performed well enough for us, they weren't what you might call world class stand-outs. Our system is good, but it's not infallible (I'm working on that), and in hindsight, I suspect 800 Pros were probably a little better than the score suggests.
The Mizuno JPX-825 Pro as a modest evolution of the original JPX-800 Pro provides us the opportunity for a do-over of sorts. Are they a worthy successor to the original? Are they better? Is it possible Mizuno took a step backwards with the new iron? Let's find out. But first...
The Marketing Angle
You know the drill. If you want to read a rehashed press release, you can certainly find that elsewhere, but in the interest of giving Mizuno a small opportunity to provide some details about the JPX-825 Pro Iron, here's the bulleted list of some of the key features.
- Grain Flow Forged® 1025E “Pure Select” mild carbon steel provides a superior soft, solid, and consistent feel.
- Enhanced COR (Coefficient of Restitution) face design for increased distance.
- Toe/Heel weighted cavity design increases Sweet Area
- 4-7 iron deep CNC milled pocket cavity for ease of launch and greater forgiveness.
- 8-GW solid full cavity design for precision and control.
- Impact sound optimized through Modal Analysis software and Mizuno’s Harmonic Impact Technology (HIT).
- Tour confirmed triple cut sole design.
- Double Nickel Chrome plated for elegant and durable finish.
How We Tested
To find out more about how we test our irons: CLICK HERE
*We're migrating our testing model to a custom fitting system, as such fewer testers (most within the target player demographic will participate in reviews).
For more information on our "Radius-Based Scoring System": CLICK HERE
One again, Mizuno has left our left-handed friends hanging high and dry. Sorry guys. Rest assured, it's not some vast anti-lefty conspiracy, it's just simple supply and demand. And yeah...it sucks.
Short Iron Performance
At the risk of blowing up some mythology about Mizuno irons, let's take a moment to discuss the 45° pitching wedge. Despite being known in part for mostly sticking to tradition (modern tradition anyway), Mizuno has shown a willingness to do what it needs to do to compete in the emerging 'distance iron' category. So as you might suspect from anyone who needs to squeeze a few extra yards out of an iron just to stay competitive, lofts on the JPX-825 Pros run
weak strong, and shafts run a bit long (again...compared to what we consider traditional in this day and age). Now that we've got that out of the way...
It's hard to say what accounts for the struggles of both our low and middle-handicap golfers with respect to short iron accuracy. Both players game what we generally categorize as player's cavity backs, so it's possible that the additional offset on the JPX-825s caused some adjustment issues. You'll not from the charts below that while both players showed decent distance control, both had a tendency to miss left.
Conversely, our higher handicap player, who we should note, currently games Mizuno JPX-800 irons did a slightly better job of putting the ball in the general vicinity of the flagstick.
Overall, our testers missed by a group average of 25.38 feet with, as previously noted, our highest handicap golfer posting the best numbers (missing by 22.25 feet on average).
Distance control (which in and of itself doesn't count for anything from a scoring perspective, was actually pretty solid. Our testers missed the distance (without respect for left/right) by an average of less than 14 feet. Left/Right accuracy wasn't quite as stellar, with our testers missing the centerline by an average of 18.07 feet.
With enough time I suspect our better players would have made adjustments (for whatever was causing the left miss), and probably would have posted better scores. All things considered, however; the overall short iron score still falls within the realm of respectability.
Short Iron Performance Score 89.31
Middle Iron Performance
While as you'll see, the overall middle iron score didn't differ dramatically from the short iron score, how the final number was achieved differs quite a bit from the short irons. In general we saw a righting of the ship as it were. Our highest handicap tester slipped considerably (missing by an average of 40.22 feet), while our mid and low handicap golfers dipped by lesser amounts. As a group, our testers missed the flag by an average of 35.05 feet.
As was the case with the long irons, misses tended to favor the left size of the target, and we've come to expect from amateurs, tended to be generally short of the distance. On average our testers missed that distance by 19.6 feet (roughly 5.4 feet further from the hole on average).
When we look at deviation from the centerline we see that our testers missed by an average of 25.23 feet, which surprisingly is marginally better than they did with the short irons. Essentially, what they lost distance control, they nearly made up for in accuracy.
Overall, the middle iron performance score proved to be the lowest for the set. What exactly that means I can't be 100% certain of, but I do find it interesting.
Middle Iron Performance Score: 87.71
Long Iron Performance
When I was getting fit for my gamers (and trying to convince the fitter that a zero to negative offset blade would be perfect for me), I remember him saying to me, "offset is usually a good thing". Most guys can and do benefit from it, and yet a good number of us will tell you how much we hate it (and how we're so awesome we don't need it, and anybody who does must suck at golf). As it turns out, a good number of us are probably wrong...very, very wrong.
What does that have to do with the Mizuno JPX-825 Pro irons? Maybe nothing, but here's what I speculate.
Most of us find that as clubs get longer they get harder to hit...or at least hit straight. Some of that has to do with longer shafts, and some of it has to do with the physical properties of the D-Plane (less loft means more curvature). The point is that most guys are less accurate with their long irons than they are with the short ones. And that's exactly why the results of our long iron tests are somewhat baffling.
Before we talk about that, let me put this out there. Our testers hit clubs in random order. Some guys hit the long irons first, some the short, some the middle. Better long iron scores don't suggest that a guy was loose, or fresh, or whatever. I almost wish that wasn't the case because it might make the long iron results a bit easier to explain.
Our low and mid handicap golfers not only posted better scores, on average both actually did a better job finding the flagstick with the long irons than with the middle irons (short iron proximity was still better for both). Our lowest handicap golfer missed the target by an average of 24.31 feet, while our middle handicap golfer missed by 28.77 feet. Our highest handicapper...well, he missed by over 45 feet on average, which is basically the expected results...the other guys, well...that's less expected.
I can't be certain what our lowest handicap golfer experienced, but what I can tell you from my own experience is that I found it much easier to get the face pointed the right way with the longer iron in my hands. Instead of hitting what we generally classify as pull hooks, I was able to start the ball to the right, or down the middle, or just a little left, which in turn helped keep the ball closer to where I wanted it to go.
As far as distance control is concerned, even with the long irons, the Mizuno JPX-825 Pros did a stellar job of providing consistent yardage. As a group our testers missed the target distance by 20.41 yards. That's solid for a middle iron. Drop the highest handicap golfer, and the other guys missed by only 15.73 feet (now you're tracking toward short iron territory).
Left/Right accuracy (without regard for distance) was also better than with middle irons, with our testers missing by a combined average of 23.54 feet.
What should we make of this? Well...first, it's really good by long iron standards. The bigger picture stuff...I'll get to that in the conclusion.
Long Iron Performance Score: 91.58
While overall the numbers don't suggest that Mizuno's new JPX-825 Pro is an absolute Rock Star, they do suggest an iron that could be just that when fit to the right golfer. On the short end there might be too much game-improvement stuff to appeal to better golfers, while on the long end, there might not be quite enough forgiveness for the higher handicap golfer. In between it's probably trial and error, but overall it's an iron that should be a serious player for golfers in the 10-15 handicap range.
The Interactive Data
The charts below show the individual and group averages (black dotted line) for each shot our golfers took during our test of the Mizuno JPX-825 Pro Irons. You can click on each of 3 tabs (Mizuno JPX-825 Pro - Short Irons, Mizuno JPX-825 Pro - Mid Irons, Mizuno JPX-825 Pro - Long Irons) you can see where each shot came to rest on our virtual driving range, and the raw data (averages) for each of our testers. Hovering over any point will give you all the details of that particular shot. You can use the filters on the right-hand side to show and hide individual golfer based on handicap and proximity to the pin. At your whimsy you can drag the Distance from Hole slider around to show you how many shots fell within the area you specify.
As much as we try, it's next to impossible to get our testers to rate game-improvement irons in comparison with other game-improvement irons. Most people aren't going to find a JPX-825 Pro as aesthetically pleasing as a MP-69. Is that fair? Umm...not so much, but it is the reality. So before I get into all the scoring and what not, let me just tell you what I said to myself the first time I put the JPX-825 Pro to the turf.
"Now that's a game-improvement iron I'd actually bag" - GolfSpy T
Now of course that's not actually even a little true. I probably should bag something like a Mizuno JPX-825 Pro, but instead I continue to bag my Miura CB-501s (probably to the detriment of my game). And I lust after things like Cobra's new AMP Cell Pro irons (the full blade set...none of this "flow" stuff), which I would do to the absolute determent of my game. Buy hey, I'm golfer...I like what I like...even if it hurts my game. I'd feel bad about it, except I know I'm not the only one.
So really, what I should have said is, "I'd bag these if I had half the brain necessary to bag something that might actually improve my game".
Visually, in nearly every respect the JPX-825 Pro is a step up from its predecessor. The head is more compact, the badge is a bit more understated (Mizuno-esque if you will), and the sole grind is more pronounced.
Even the topline, which is certainly thicker than most would probably expect from Mizuno is narrower than you'd find on most clubs in the category.
As I mentioned in that market section up there (really Mizuno mentioned it, I just pasted it), the JPX-825 Pros feature what Mizuno calls a milled pocket cavity in the long irons, and solid full cavity design in the short irons.
It's a design we've seen from Mizuno before (I remember it from my MP-52s), and truthfully it's something I've never cared for. Even if the pocket cavity was hidden at address, I always found it a bit too visible when just looking at the head. With the JPX-825 Pros what realistically could have been an issue for nobody other than myself, has been fixed. The matte black finish does a better job hiding the cavity (even when you're starring right at it), and generally speaking it appears smaller than previous incarnations.
The black with chrome accents in the cavity itself may irk Mizuno traditionalists, but as game-improvement badges go, it's among the best that I've seen.
The sole is exceptionally narrow by game-improvement standards, which further suggests the JPX-825 Pro is more tweener that classic game-improvement, but nevertheless, it should add a bit of curb appeal for the lower handicap golfer. For the higher handicap guy, the noticeable offset should help to inspire confidence, even if it does so at the expense of some better players.
MGS LOOKS SCORE: 92.17
Sound & Feel
I suppose you could say that it's interesting that our high handicap golfer (the guy who games the JPX-800 Pro) feels like the JPX-825 Pro is a step backwards. I would actually argue quite the opposite. One of things I didn't love about the JPX-800 Pro was that in my estimation, they didn't quite live up to Mizuno's reputation where feel is concerned.
It's just an opinion, but I think the 825 Pros offer a softer, buttery, more what I'd expect from Mizuno kinda feel. It's obviously not a night and day sort of thing to begin with, we're talking about only needing incremental improvement anyway. That said, I'd argue that the JPX-825 Pro offers incrementally better feel than its predecessor, and should feel noticeably softer than other clubs in the game improvement category.
MGS Feel Score: 91.38
Once again our JPX-800 Pro owner feels like the new 825-Pros represent a step back. And once again I think he's wrong. We're slowly moving towards making forgiveness a quantifiable value again, but for now we're still working of opinion. It's true our high handicap golfer didn't exactly perform lights out with the JPX-825. I'll concede that. What we did notice, however, is that when looking at raw distances, there was less deviation on mishits than we've seen with some other clubs (especially those in the "player's" category) we've tested.
Is the JPX-825 Pro the most forgiving iron on the market today? I'm inclined to suggest it's not, but for a club that you can find in a PGA Tour player's bag, it's gotta be high up on the list.
Tester Perceived Forgiveness Score: 93.17
Likelihood of Purchase
Our JPX-800 Pro owners take is this: "These lost most of the feel for hotness of the face, but gained nothing on my numbers".
So needless to say he's not going to be replacing his irons any time soon. Our other testers; both of whom are guys who tested the 800 Pros as well, disagree.
It's silly to suggest that if you are a JPX-800 Pro owner that the 825s have rendered them obsolete. They haven't. As with the majority of direct replacements we see, the changes are incremental. And truthfully, those improvements in the case of the JPX-825 Pros, in my opinion are subtle tweaks that shift the offering slightly away from the higher handicap golfer, and ever so slightly towards, the low and middle handicap player.
The bottom line, I can understand why an 18 (give or take) handicap golfer might find the 800 Pros more to his liking (and that's before we give consideration to the familiarity factor). However, for guys looking for a moderate step up in class from super game-improvement irons, the JPX-825 Pros offer an enticing option.
Tester Likelihood of Purchase: 90.30
Overall, on a purely physical level there's plenty to like about Mizuno's JPX-825 Pro irons. Guys who tend to lean towards player's cavity backs will appreciate the smaller head and refined toplines. Those same guys whose games perhaps aren't up to player's irons standards will also appreciate the extra bit of offset (even if they won't admit it).
Badge details are subtle by game-improvement standards, and while that may give them the appearance of something other than pure Mizuno, the improved feel should serve to remove any doubt.
It's easy to say that mid to high handicap golfers should at least consider the Mizuno JPX-825 Pros when evaluating their next set of irons. That's basically a given. More importantly, our numbers also suggest that mid and even low handicap golfers should give some serious consideration to bagging the JPX-825 Pros at the long end of a mixed set.
Based on my own results, and the results of our single-digit player, I'd be hard pressed to justify ordering Mizuno and not filling the 4, 5, and potentially even the 6 iron slots with the 825 Pros. Now in truth, I'd almost certainly put MP-59s in the rest of the bag (and would hopefully talk myself out of MP-69s in any spot), but damn...if you struggle with long irons like so many of us do, perhaps putting your ego aside and replacing your long irons with easier to hit long irons could actually help your game.
If pressed to play a single Mizuno iron, the honest answer is that my preference would still be for the MP-59 above all others. But if you're asking me which set I thought would give me the best chance to break 80...it's almost certainly the Mizuno JPX-825 Pros.
Mizuno JPX-825 Pro Gallery
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