Enter the brand-new Mizuno JPX923 Tour irons, and boy have I been waiting to try these. Mizuno proudly state that their JPX Tour iron is their most played model on the professional tours, even more so than the MP models, and if it’s good enough for the best male and female players in the world, I’m sure it’s more than good enough for me – but is it worth an upgrade for you?
Here we review the Mizuno JPX923 irons and compare them to the compare to the Mizuno Pro 221 that impressed me so much.
Has there been a bad-looking Mizuno iron before? At least not in my recent memory, and yet again as you might expect with their flagship model, these look sleek, clean and inviting to hit. The satin finish gives these irons a premium look.
Mizuno have introduced a new V-Shaped chassis which you’ll see extending from the toe area of the club when looking at the back of the head. They say this has allowed them to further slim down the top line and sole width. For reference, the MP221 is still fractionally thinner in the head length and sole width throughout the set but the difference is almost imperceptible.
What I would say I noticed more when comparing the two is that the JPX 923 Tour appears to be more offset at setup. That’s not a negative, on the contrary, I’d argue it’s a good thing because depending on the golfer, their shot shapes and preferences.
I thoroughly enjoyed the feedback these irons gave me during testing. Much is made of the buttery-soft feel you get from Mizuno irons, but I’ve generally found this only applies when you flush them.
I am fully aware that is what you’re supposed to do but cut me some slack here. It’s a hard game and hey, even the very best players don’t hit the centre consistently, and they’re better than me. A lot better!
What I liked about these was how soft they felt when I didn’t middle them, and this actually contrasted with the feedback I got from the Mizuno 221 and other competing brand products too such as the Ping i59 and Ping i230 irons.
I’ve said before when testing precision irons, all-out distance isn’t what they are built for so we have to look at this in relative terms to competing and similar iron models. What we also need to focus on is how consistent the distances are.
Now for me, at my modest speed with this type of traditionally-lofted iron, I’m hoping to hit the 7 iron around 160 yards carry with a Pro V1 ball. That’s what I’d be looking for if I was custom-fitting myself. I managed to sneak a couple of shots just over the 160 mark with the JPX 923 Tour, but had an average carry of 156 overall, which reflects a few off-centre hits as touched on before. For comparison, the 221 averaged 155 so they were pretty identical here.
In fact, look through the numbers between them and you’ll see the performance was almost inseparable:
Ball speed average: JPX 923 Tour – 114.2 mph / MP221 – 113.9 mph
Spin rate: JPX 923 Tour – 6625 rpm / MP221 – 6777 rpm
Launch angle: JPX 923 Tour – 18.6 deg / MP221 – 18.3 deg
Peak Height: JPX 923 Tour – 92 ft / MP221 – 90 ft
Where they differed slightly was if I compared best for best then you’re looking at around 3 mph (6 yards carry) advantage for the Mizuno JPX 923 Tour, although the dispersion front to back was tighter with the MP221.
The JPX923 Tour is built to be an iron for precision and shot making and so this is where we expect it to excel. The backspin on the ball is what creates lift, and side spin on the ball (or spin axis tilt if you’re feeling geeky) creates curvature. These dictate the ball flight and trajectory which affects our ability to control the ball.
We are therefore looking at spin rate as a predominant factor, in combination with the consistency of ball speed and launch angle to determine how much control these irons will give you.
For reference, I’m generally looking for a number north of 6000 rpm with a 7 iron to give good control and stopping power. The tour guys are probably looking between 6500-7000 as they have a higher club head speed (it’s all relative).
As we touched on earlier, I was able to generate 6625rpm on average which is exceptional. What was more impressive to me was that every single shot was in the 6000’s despite some variance in the strike quality. My best strike generated 6558 so I’d have every confidence of being able to control distance with these irons.
The other factor we need to consider here is shot shape. As I explained earlier the JPX 923 Tour is a little more offset than the MP221 so I kind of felt as though I was trying to stop it from going left on me.
For someone that has a tendency to leave the face a little too open sometimes, these could be a great option. For someone that can be a little too handsy like me, perhaps the Mizuno 221 irons with its squarer face might provide better control.
These irons are built with the more consistent ball strikers in mind, so we can’t reasonably expect them to be as forgiving as a more player-friendly model. Nonetheless, forgiveness is still important because as suggested earlier, there isn’t a player in the world that doesn’t mishit the ball sometimes. It’s just the degree to which that mishit happens.
Looking at the data, there was a drop of only 10 yards (6mph ball speed) between my best and worst strikes. If we’ve selected the right club, that’s the difference between being 15ft short or past the flag. Not bad at all, though I would point out that the MP221 (5 yard range) and Ping i230 (6 yards range) did even better here.
This is really where modern bladed and precision irons have really improved over the past few years and have become accessible to a wider range of golfers. I don’t like to put handicap limits on who can play which type of club, but a confident ball striker should not have any fear of putting these in the bag.
I’d say if anything the main limitation to playing these would be clubhead speed because they’re not super long.
Mizuno offers an incredible range of aftermarket shafts at no extra upcharge, so this is a real plus point when finding the right shaft and head combination for your game. What’s more, your local PGA Mizuno stockist will have all of these shafts on hand for you to try.
I currently play the Nippon Modus 3 115x which I feel gives a very consistent trajectory and smooth feel. The Project X IO has been a very popular shaft this year and has performed well for those looking for a little extra energy transfer and peak height. For the stronger players among us looking to lower flight and spin, options like the Project X LS, KBS C-Taper and Dynamic Gold will have them covered too.
Your PGA professional should be able to accurately fit you into the best option for your game. Mizuno have also developed a shaft optimizer club that measures parameters in how you swing, load and deliver the club and matches these to a recommended shaft based on its weight, flex and kick point.
With Mizuno offering such a range of head models in their iron lineups, there has often been the option to create combo sets for a little more control in the shorter irons and a bit more help in the longer irons.
Interestingly here though, the JPX Forged iron that some may have combined with the Tour in the 921 series, has become stronger lofted and hotter in the 923 series and even with loft alterations would be difficult to blend into a set.
The only iron model I can see these potentially blending with would be the Mizuno Pro 223, but they’ve done a great job with the 223 of tapering the set so that the short irons and wedges are smaller and offer greater control. They could blend with either the JPX Tour or MP221 though if anything the offset and head size are a closer match between the JPX Tour and the MP223.
A point to be mindful of if blending Mizuno sets in particular is that you are afforded a maximum 3 degrees of loft and lie alterations combined. For example, if you needed to adjust the lie by 2 degrees, you would only be able alter the loft by 1 degree.
Go 3 degrees upright and you wouldn’t be able to change the loft at all. Mizuno’s standard lie angles are a little flatter than most brands so this may be relevant to taller golfers in particular.
This is an interesting one because they are priced slightly higher than the MP221 but as we’ve discussed do a very similar job. You could therefore make a case to say that the MP221 represents better value.
That’s possibly too simplistic though as the player buying either is a serious golfer looking for relatively small gains. I feel that the head shape will largely dictate which model the player prefers, and for as much they’ve performed remarkably similarly, I do think the JPX Tour 923 is potentially slightly more powerful.
When you look at the price of competing options, the Ping i230 and Titleist T100 are positioned a little lower in price, whereas the Ping i59 is more expensive.
Golf Insider Verdict
Before I started testing, I was very curious to see how they would compare to the MP221. When I finished testing, I thought they’ve made another MP221 in different clothing – why?
As I’ve had a little more time to reflect and write this review, I’ve realised there are some subtle differences, whilst still a precision iron for the better golfers among us, there is a little more tech packed into the head, it is possibly a smidge hotter off the face, it doesn’t feel quite as demanding to hit as the purists MP221, and so does feel more accessible to the low handicap golfer.
Bearing in mind here I gave the MP221 rave reviews, this really is an incredible piece of engineering and if you’re interested to give them a try, I’d fully recommend doing so.
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