"Hands-down...best wedge we have tested in 2011. The scores for the Mizuno MP T-11 wedges were off the charts! How these wedges did not get a gold in Golf Digest's Hot List is beyond me." (GolfSpy X)
Mizuno MP-T11 Review
(Written By: GolfSpy T) It seems almost remarkable that Mizuno, a company that's more or less built a reputation for producing some of the world's best feeling, and best performing irons, isn't better know for their wedges. It's not like Mizuno is doing something fundamentally different from what they do with their irons. The MP-T11 wedges, like Mizuno irons, are grain flow forged from 1025E mild, carbon steel to produce the enhanced feel that has become almost synonymous with the Mizuno name. The soles feature what Mizuno calls a 360° grind, which just like the sole grinds on their irons, is designed for maximum versatility. As good as all of that sounds, in reality, all of it amounts to little more than the typical marketing stuff we try and stay away from as much as we can.
The Mizuno Difference
Before we get into the review itself, I did want to point out a couple of features of the MP-T11 that I think are actually pretty interesting. As any golfer who hasn't been stuck in a bunker for the last two years is by now well aware, the USGA decided that PGA Tour pros were spinning the ball too much out of the rough, so in a relatively feeble attempt at rolling back the clock to a time when hitting fairways actually mattered, the introduced the infamous new groove rule. Of course, the average golfer can't do with a wedge what the average tour pro can, but the USGA, apparently unconcerned with such details, basically issued an ultimatum that all OEMs stop manufacturing non-conforming grooves by the end of 2010.
As a result, Mizuno, like most every other OEM has been trying to come up with ways to achieve higher spin levels with new grooves. While I don't think anyone at Mizuno (or any other OEM) will tell you that their new wedges spin as much as the old ones, Mizuno has taken what I'd call a two-pronged approach to solving the problem.
- Firstly they made the TrueTemper DG Spinner shaft standard in all of their wedges. The shaft is designed to increase spin while maintaining an optimized trajectory.
- Secondly, they did an extensive amount of research into groove design and arrived at some pretty interesting conclusions. Fundamentally they discovered that different grooves will produce different results at different lofts. Mizuno engineers found that on stronger lofted wedges (50°, 52°, 54°) narrow, deep grooves produced the best results. For higher lofted wedges (56° through 64°) wider, shallower grooves actually produced more spin.
As far as we know, Mizuno is the only company claiming to use two different of grooves in their wedge offerings. I can't promise you it's a difference-maker, but nonetheless, it is interesting.
Lots of Options
When we reviewed the Callaway X-Series Jaws CC wedge, I mentioned how impressed I was by the thoroughness of the Callaway wedge lineup. While Mizuno doesn't quite rise to that level, with 9 different models available in your choice of two finishes, they've covered the majority of needs from 50° to 64° ...for right handed golfers anyway. Unfortunately, lefties are apparently limited to the 52-07, 56-13, and 60-08.
Material Composition: 1025E Mild Carbon Steel (Forged)
How We Tested
Target greens were set at 100 yards, and after having sufficient opportunity to verify their own personal distances, the 6 golfers for whom we collected detailed performance data were asked to select the most appropriately lofted wedge for the distance. Testers then hit a series of shots on our 3Track Equipped simulators from aboutGolf. As usual, testing was done at Tark's Indoor Golf, a state of the art indoor golf facility located in Saratoga Springs, NY. Detailed data for each and every shot for which we collected data is now viewable in the interactive portion of this review. This data serves as the foundation for our final performance score. As a supplement to our 6 performance testers, a subset of additional golfers were given the opportunity to test the Mizuno MP-T11 Wedges and provide feedback in our subjective categories (looks, feel, perceived accuracy, perceived forgiveness, and likelihood of purchase). This information, which we also collected from our performance testers, is used as the foundation for our total subjective score.
New Radius-Based Scoring
For wedge reviews, we use a radius-based scoring format. Instead of simply asking our testers to hit the ball as long and as straight as they can, testers are asked to stick their shots as close as they possibly can to a pin set at 100 yards. Because distances can very, even for wedges, testers are given the opportunity to hit several shots to determine the best loft for the target distance. At the 100 yard distance, our golfers tested with a mix of 52°, 56°, and 60° degree wedges.
80% of the total performance score is calculated based on where each shot fell in proximity to the hole. Closer is obviously better.
As we do with irons, we apply a formula to normalize the data across varying handicap levels. Our scoring attempts to account for difference in ability levels between high and low handicap golfers, and makes a reasonable attempt to level the playing field (much like the Handicap system itself), so that it's possible to achieve similar scores for all golfers. Details for each and every shot hit during our tests is available to you in the interactive portion of this review. Definitely check out that page, and let us know what you think about the new scoring system.
At some point in the future we may look to enhance or wedge tests to include pitch and chips shots, from the fairway, rough, and potentially even the sand. For now, however; we've decided to focus on full shots from fairway lies.
As we'd expect, and just as we saw in our review of the Callaway X Series Jaws CC Wedges, testers were much more accurate with their wedges than with any other type of club. Looking at the adjusted averages we see that 4 of the 6 golfers we tested left themselves an average putt of inside of 20 feet. A fourth finished inside of 25 feet, while the the remaining two testers averaged just over 30 feet from the pin. From a scoring perspective, that works out to 2 scores above 96, 3 more in the 90-94 range, and reasonably impressive 89+ on the low end.
Under our scoring system, achieving an A+ for accuracy is extremely difficult, if not impossible. So when we see a score that starts to sneak up on 94 like the Mizuno MP-T11 Wedges did, we know that if nothing else, our testers have a club in their hands that they're extremely comfortable swinging.
MGS Accuracy Score: 89.32
As we'll discuss in a bit more detail in the looks section, the MP-T11 has a design and appearance that's meant to appeal to stronger players. With that in mind, it shouldn't come as a huge surprise that the MP-T11 with its thin topline and lack of offset didn't prove to be quite as forgiving as the the Callaway wedge we tested earlier (although we're splitting hairs over 10ths of points). Of course, as you may recall, many a tester didn't care for some of the design elements (thicker topline, more offest) that help make Callaway's X series wedge more forgiving.
Of course "not as forgiving" isn't remotely the same as unforgiving. From a consistency standpoint, out testers put up some fairly solid numbers. While Jon was able to post a number just shy of 97 and Tim did even better; posting just shy of 98. For our other testers, their scores (low 90s) are more or less average for the category.
MGS Consistency Score: 94.12
You can't talk about wedges without talking about spin, so we decided it absolutely had to be part of the scoring equation. Of course, ultimately spin itself doesn't matter, what really matters is how close you can put the ball to your target.
We're well into wedge testing this season, and what we're finding is that nearly all of the wedges we've received put up very similar spin numbers. We suspect the new groove rule has leveled they playing field a bit. Of course, we also expect that there will be more separation in spin numbers if we tested from the rough or wet conditions. Unfortunately we're not there yet, and more unfortunate still is that opportunities for the average guy to actually demo clubs from the sand, and wet rough are even more limited. So with all of this in mind, we've decided to post and score spin numbers, but for this year at least, those numbers will count for only 10% of the performance score.
Quite frankly we can't imagine many wedges will spin more than the MP-T11. On our simulators, the cameras recorded spin numbers high enough for 3 testers to post perfect scores. In fact, 5 of our 6 testers posted adjusted average spin numbers of over 10,000 RPM, with Tim leading the way with average numbers above 11,000. Even our lowest spin player, Mark, managed to average over 9000 RPM. Maybe it's the grooves. Maybe it's the shaft. It could very well be the combination. Honestly, we don't much care for the whys of it, but our testers have told us over and over again that they want a wedge that spins, and the Mizuno MP-T11 does just that.
MGS Spin Score: 96.12
There's not much we can add beyond what we've covered above. The numbers tell us that the Mizuno MP-T11 performs extremely well for a variety of handicap levels. Though it features a design generally preferred by better players, not only were our higher handicap golfers not intimidated, they couldn't have been more thrilled with both the accuracy and the spin number they produced with the MP-T11 wedge.
MGS OVERALL PERFORMANCE SCORE: 91.02
When it comes to evaluating wedges, we'll throw our numbers at you like we always do, but we understand that the reality of things is that evaluating wedges on an individual basis is only slightly less scientific than it is when the average golfer considers a new putter. Wedges are very much "feel" clubs. They have to look right, they have to feel right, and when it comes time to buy, perhaps it just me, but there needs to be an almost visceral connection to the club. I have to trust that the wedge will allow me to hit any shot, from any lie whether it's a 40 yard pitch, or a wide-open flopadopolis off hard pan. It's not something you can really represent with numbers - you more or less just have to trust your gut and go with it, but that doesn't mean our testers don't have opinions.
One of the most common things our testers told us is that they greatly prefer the Black Nickel finish to the Satin Chrome. Of course most of them told us they didn't mind the Satin finish, but could do without the high shine, almost mirrored finish on the back of the club. While it reflects a ton of sunlight when it's in your bag, the good news is it doesn't really come into play at address.
Another frequent comment we received was that Black Nickel finish isn't exactly what some our testers thought Black Nickel should look like (it really is more of a dark satin), but nonetheless they really liked. Each and every tester told us that if they were to purchase MP-T11 wedges, they'd buy them in Black Nickel.
Testers also commented on the compact, teardrop shape, thin top line, and lack of offset. The majority of our testers tend to miss left with their wedges, and we believe little to no offset can help to mitigate that just a bit. Overall scores were extremely high. A couple of 10's mixed in with an 8 and a bunch of 9s. All of which indicates to us that our testers really like the look of the MP-T11.
MGS Looks Score: 94.96
Mizuno irons have always scored highly when it comes to feel, so we're quite a bit less than surprised that the wedges would score equally as well if not better. Tester after tester commented on the soft yet solid feel. When we calculate our scores we toss out the high and low numbers (it keeps a single disgruntled tester from having too much influence on the final score). As a result, we tossed a 9 at one end and a 10 at the other. Needless to say when the numbers are that high across the board; the feel scores are the highest we've seen to date!
MGS Feel Score: 98.54
While not quite at a PGA level, our testers were throwing amateur level darts, and for the most part they appeared to notice. Nearly every one of testers had at least one shot that flirted with the hole, and clearly that' s what they took away from their tests. While there is a reasonable possibility that a wedge could marginally outperform the MP-T11, it's doubtful you'd be able to convince our testers that there is a more accurate wedge out there.
Tester Perceived Accuracy Score: 96.75
Not too surprisingly, the Mizuno MP-T11 wedge didn't rate quite as highly with our testers where forgiveness is concerned. We've already talked about the thin topline and lack of offset, but we should also mention that the soles of the Mizuno MP-T11 wedges are relatively narrow. With the possible exception of the 64°, the soles are generally as narrow, if not more so than many of the wedges we've seen this year.
After testing the MP-T11 wedges in our studio, and after flip-flopping between these and the Vokeys, one of our testers (J0n) actually went out and purchased a set of the Mizunos. He's coming from a broad-soled, big-headed, Maltby game-improvement wedge, so the MP-T11 represents quite a change. What he's shared with us after playing several rounds with the Mizuno wedges is that he does find the 56° much harder to hit, and occasionally flirts with the idea of putting the Maltby back in the bag.
That's probably a fair assessment given the design differences in the clubs, however; I'm currently bagging the 64° degree and have personally found that it's as easy to hit as any other of that particular loft.
Tester Perceived Forgiveness Score: 91.38
Likelihood of Purchase
I'll cut right to the chase on this one. The LOP score for the Mizuno MP-T11 wedges is basically off the charts. They were a HUGE hit with our testers, with not a single rating below 9. We do feel it's necessary to disclose that one of our testers (Tim) actually already bags the previous non-conforming Mizuno wedges, and a 2nd tester (Todd) carries Mizuno irons.
Having said that, neither Jon, Dan, nor Mark has ever bagged a single Mizuno iron (Jon bought a set, Dan who has recently replaced is 5 year old Cleveland's, gave serious consideration to, but did not ultimately buy Mizuno). Mark is, for now anyway, sticking with his non-conforming grooves.
The 64° has been pimped out and put in my bag, and if not for a fortuitous arrival, I'd personally be bagging the entire set.
Tester Likelihood of Purchase: 98.54
We've never tested a club of any type that our testers have rated more highly across the board. In fact, only a single tester rated the MP-T11 lower than an 8 in any of the categories we survey (and that was a pair of 7s). I'm a bit surprised by the results given how relatively little buzz there seems to be around Mizuno wedges. Of course, based on those results, I'm positively shocked that what our testers tell us is far and away a Gold medal wedge, only received a Silver on Golf Digest's "Hot List". Different strokes for different folks, I suppose.
TOTAL SUBJECTIVE SCORE: 96.03
At the risk of over analyzing things a bit, there's a chance Mizuno benefits from its position as a small, but mainstream OEM. Unlike TaylorMade, Nike, Callaway, and others, we very rarely encounter a tester who comes in with an immovable bias one way or another. We've never encountered a tester with a bag full of Mizuno clubs who tells us he'd never play anything else, but we've never had anyone tell us how much they hate the brand either.
We've also figured out that under our current scoring system, wedges will likely generate the highest scores. Part of that comes from the calculations themselves, and part comes from the psychology of the process. Essentially, testers will almost universally be more accurate with wedges than other clubs, so the tendency will be to rate them highly. Generally speaking wedge designs tend to be very clean, and blade-like in appearance. We also know that blades will score better across the board than anything else we test. We accept these as the realities of any subjective tests, and will continue to remind you that scores should always be considered in relative terms.
Now with that out of the way, I'm going to suggest to you that although we have at least 3, maybe 4 more wedges in our review pipeline, we're probably not going to see a better score in 2011. From a performance perspective, the numbers our testers posted were to a man excellent. The subjective survey scores were nothing less than the highest we've ever seen.
What this tells us is that, if the Mizuno MP-T11 isn't the best conforming wedge on the market today, when considering all the factors we grade on, it's painfully obvious to us that the Mizuno MP-T11 absolutely belongs on page one of any list supposedly discussing the best wedges for 2011.
MGS TOTAL SCORE: 91.52
Have you hit the Mizuno MP T-11 Wedges yet? What were your thoughts?
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