Earlier this fall, we gave you a first look at Mizuno's new JPX 900 driver.
Not enough to simply be adjustable, Mizuno's goal was to create the most adjustable driver in golf . When you consider competitors like TaylorMade's M1, that's no easy task. Then again, I could just as easily argue that with 2014's JPX 850, Mizuno was already well ahead of the adjustability curve.
The 900 builds on the 850's design. Mizuno continues to utilize a pair of eight-gram adjustable weights that aren't bound to any single track. This frees the golfer to put the weight where he wants it (with very few limitations). According to Mizuno, this gives all us the ability to precisely dial in spin and vertical launch parameters.
Enhancing the adjustability is Mizuno's new Vertical Face Angle Adjuster (VFA). Similar to the Adjustable Sole Plate (ASP) on TaylorMade's R1 Driver, VFA allows you to adjust face angle. The bad news is that VFA is largely a visual enhancement and only comes into play when the driver is soled. The good news is that VFA works totally independently from any loft adjustments you might make via the hosel.
Also new this year is what Mizuno calls a CORETECH Face. It's a weight-saving technology (5 grams lighter) that also expands the sweet area of the clubface. CORETECH is there to help you maintain ball speed on mis-hits.
Also noteworthy is a change in CG position. By any reasonable assessment, the JPX 850 was an aggressively low/forward CG design. While that certainly benefits some, it also significantly limited 850s audience. By bumping the CG up and back, Mizuno hopes to create a driver that is, overall, more playable than its predecessor.
HOW WE TESTED
- Testing was done using stock Mizuno JPX 850 and JPX 900 drivers in stiff flex.
- Testing was done with drivers in the neutral (9.5°) loft position.
- Ten golfers with handicaps ranging from 0-15 and driver swing speeds between 90 and 110 mph participated in this test.
- Each tester hit 12-14 shots with each club (frequently rotating between clubs).
- Any gross mishits and shots coming to rest more than 50 yards from the center line were eliminated and not included in the shot counts.
- Remaining outliers were identified using Median Absolute Deviation (both distance and offline), and dropped prior to our averages being calculated.
- All testers hit Bridgestone B300-RX Golf Balls.
- Ball Data was recorded using a Foresight GC2 Launch Monitor.
We conducted two separate tests of the JPX 900. First, we wanted to see the real-world performance implications of moving weight around the head. Second, we wanted to see how the new model differs from the previous version.
JPX 900 By Weight Position
We tested the JPX 900 with the weights set to each of 4 different positions. For those who may not be fully aware of the JPX 900's capabilities, Perimeter refers to placing weights in both the draw and fade positions. Note: for this test, we did not test draw and fade positions independently, nor did we do any testing of the VFA.
- With weights in the neutral CG position, the JPX 900 produced the highest average ball speeds, as well as longest carry and total distance.
- As we would expect the back weight position produced the most spin. Although not dramatic, the slightly lower launch angle is surprising.
- Launch angle was greatest with weights at the perimeter.
- Using Yards Offline as a measure of accuracy, shots finished slightly closer to the centerline with the Neutral CG setting.
- On average, adjusting the CG produced a change in spin rate of 200 rpm (+/- 50), and a change in launch angle of one degree (+/- .3 degrees).
- While actual differences differed from tester to tester (and your mileage will vary), the data suggests that changes in CG position have real-world performance implications.
JPX 900 vs. JPX 850
In the table below we compare the JPX 900 to the JPX 850. As a reminder, both drivers were hit in the neutral position.
- Average ball speeds for the two drivers were effectively the same.
- Given the change in CG position from the 850 to 900, we would expect the newer model to launch higher with more spin. That's precisely what happened.
- While average carry and total distance numbers favor the JPX 850, it should be noted that some testers in the group saw significantly higher ball speeds and distance with the new model.
- While we don't often try and quantify subjective feedback, testers failed to note any significant sound and feel differences between the 900's various weight positions. This would seem to validate Mizuno's Harmonic Impact Technology, which in the driver, seeks to produce consistent acoustic feedback across all positions.
Is the JPX 900 better than the 850?
The results taken at face value make the case that Mizuno may have taken a step back, but there are several factors that warrant additional consideration.
- Given the designed changes in CG position, it's certainly possible that moving the weight forward in the 900 to more closely match the 850 would produce equivalent or potentially better results.
- In general, the JPX 900 was more accurate and consistent throughout the test group.
- While not reflected in overall averages, the JPX 900 provided significantly higher ball speeds and launch angles for some individual testers.
- Mizuno's JPX -EZ Driver will likely benefit a greater percentage of average golfers, while the JPX 900 is better suited for faster swingers, and better golfers.