Read on to find out if a new Mizuno JPX-800 driver deserves to be in your bag!
Mizuno's fine reputation is based primarily on its irons. For some reason, its drivers and woods just aren't as well known. And, I've always had the vague impression that Mizuno's clubs are primarily designed to be used by professionals and low handicap amateurs. I hardly ever see people playing Mizuno drivers, so I've been curious about what this one would be like. I had the opportunity to hit a Mizuno JPX-800 driver at a recent demo day, and I liked it enough to wangle the pro shop into letting me take one out for a round. I wanted to know whether the 2011 Mizuno JPX-800 driver could help average golfers play better.
Before I get into my impressions of this driver, here's some information you might want to use as background.
Mizuno Golf has developed a new technology it calls "Ultimate Dynamic Stability" (UDS) and it incorporates this technology into this driver. Specifically designed to improve the distance of hits struck anywhere on the face (not just the sweet spot), UDS combines an ultra-thin crown, a forged titanium multi-thickness face, and an internal weighting system to significantly increase the driver's horizontal and vertical Moment of Inertia (MOI). As a result of its UDS technology, the company claims the driver maximizes ball velocities and distance, even when impact is at the toe, heel, top or bottom of the face.
Following the trend nowadays, this particular driver has a 460cc titanium head. It consists of six plasma-welded pieces. Mizuno says this construction technique results in an extremely solid feel and allows the center of gravity to be positioned in precisely the right spot to promote a high-launch, low-spin drive. Those launch characteristics typically translate into more distance.
The head of the driver also has an internal 5-gram weight at the heel to help players square the face at the moment of impact. (a short parenthetical is in order at this point: I can see where this weighting system could benefit golfers who have a tendency to slice, but it might spell trouble for those of us who hit a natural draw or have a tendency to pull or hook the ball). The head also has an internal 10-gram weight at the rear to increase the club's vertical MOI, lower its center of gravity, and provide more forgiveness.
I tried the 10.5-degree Mizuno JPX-800 driver fitted with a regular flex 59-gram EXSAR DS5 shaft in the standard 45.5 inch length. This graphite shaft is designed to produce a medium, penetrating ball flight. That's fine with me because I live in Florida, where there always seems to be a 20 mph wind. A high trajectory doesn't go anywhere here, but a lower, more boring ball flight like this one does quite well in our windy conditions.
Let's start with the looks of this driver. It has a conventional, pear-shaped head and the crown has a beautiful deep blue finish. I like clubs with this kind of traditional look - they give me confidence at address.
This driver sets up nicely behind the ball, and I didn't notice any problems with aligning the club face properly. It felt balanced throughout my swings. The Mizuno JPX-800 driver produces a soft but solid feel at impact, with a somewhat muted but still pleasing sound. Unfortunately, there wasn't much useful feedback - impact felt solid even when I knew I didn't make good contact. I prefer clubs that let me know when I've missed the sweet spot.
I'd call the Mizuno JPX-800 driver "sneaky long." It didn't blow my socks off, but because of its long rollout (due to the lower trajectory and reduced spin) its distance was quite respectable. It is, however, a straight shooter. Most of my shots - even off-center hits - either flew straight or had my normal slight draw. No slicing here, for me, anyway.
The Bottom Line: The Mizuno JPX-800 driver could be a keeper and if you're in the market for a new driver, it deserves at least a look. Mizuno is a quality club maker, and the Mizuno JPX-800 driver might be good enough to convince a lot of players that it doesn't just make great irons. It comes in 9-, 10.5- and 12-degree lofts for righties, and 9- and 10.5-degrees for lefties.