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Review: Mizuno JPX 825 Pro Irons
I’m a loyalist when it comes to irons. Where I have no problem ditching even the most reliable and trusted driver for something new and shiny (and hopefully more accurate), I’ve carried my Cleveland TA3 iron set since 2003. In that time the only significant change I’ve made was changing grips, and that was only about a year ago.
Part of this is financial; irons are admittedly pricey and I can’t, on a whim, drop $500 to $1,100 on a new set. But there is an element of trust to a reliable iron set, particularly after settling in with one for a few years and the clubs start to wear a bit. Perhaps it’s the way your 6 iron leaks right just slightly ever since you tried to punch out lefty off the base of a tree and nicked a root, or how you’ve worked out to the foot exactly how much a ball will jump off your 8 iron out of a fluffy, flyer lie. Maybe it’s that you and your 3 iron have fought like an old married couple so much over the years you’ve both realized everything works out better when you leave it at home. Point is, if you’re like me, you’ve spent so much time with your irons that you approach giving up that reliability in order to upgrade to a new set with no small amount of trepidation.
Here’s the thing though: over the past ten years or so, iron manufacturers have gotten better at what they do. A lot better. And what you’re passing up for the sake of the Old Faithfuls is increased distance, better trajectories, greater forgiveness, and, in all likelihood, lower scores. So with this in mind I’m diving headfirst into what 2013 has to offer, taking a look at the Mizuno JPX 825 Pro irons.
Look & Feel
Among diehard golfers Mizuno has a sterling reputation for quality equipment with classic aesthetics that performs at a high level, and the JPX 825 Pros aren’t doing that rep any disservice. At address, the clubfaces are big and forgiving-looking without being unwieldy. While the sole is a bit chunkier than I’m used to on my ancient TA3s, with the clubhead looking just the slightest bit bottom-heavy, this works to its advantage, inspiring aggressive, confident swings. Feel-wise, The JPX 825 Pros give you everything you’re looking for from a high-performance club designed for lower handicaps. Center-face contact feels smooth and satisfying, while feedback on off-center hits ranges from a gentle corrective nudge to feeling like a car crash just happened in your hands, depending on how badly you miss. Overall, these are responsive, classic-looking irons that look and feel just the way you want them to.
Distance & Forgiveness
Without question I hit these irons further than I hit my current set; the changes in loft standards for irons over the past decade mean that the JPX 825 Pro 6-iron plays more like the 5-iron from my old Clevelands, so it makes sense that I pick up about ten yards with the Mizunos. These are clubs focused on performance and not forgiveness, however, and they react to off-center hits accordingly. Slight misses left or right of the sweet spot could well take double-figures off your yardages depending on the club. I did find that even on off-center contact, the 825 Pros were surprisingly forgiving from a sidespin perspective, the ball tending to finish fairly close to the line it started on. All told, the JPX 825 Pros will perform just about as well as you do.
Trajectory & Workability
As mentioned above, the JPX 825 Pros have something of a bottom-heavy look to the clubhead, the thick sole responsible for a low center of gravity designed to get the ball up quickly. The resulting trajectory was higher than I’m used to; my ball flight tends towards a medium to medium-low angle that bores through windy conditions with not much spin, particularly with mid- to long-irons. The 825s had me up more into a medium-high range without shots ballooning, which was particularly satisfying as someone who’s spent years watching approaches land too firm and bounce off the back of greens. Hitting intentional fades and draws was trickier than I’m used to, as I found the clubs so forgiving on open- or closed-face misses that I found it hard to get the ball curving the full way back to the intended target. This was particularly true trying to move the ball from left-to-right, which resulted in a lot of pulls that would just barely tail right at the shot’s apex (a disclaimer: this could easily be due to a confluence of unfortunate circumstances, namely March rust, unfamiliarity with the club, and a general dearth of talent on my part).
My biggest takeaway from my time with the Mizuno JPX 825 Pros is that I’m pretty sure I’m not a good enough player for these clubs. They’re quality irons that are attractively designed, feel exactly how you want them to at impact, and go a mile when you get them flush, but the margin for error to maintain distance consistency seems a bit too small for my 12-handicap swing to handle. Swings that felt good but not great that would come up 5-10 yards short with my current clubs seemed to consistently lose 10-20 yards with the 825s, and that’s just too much variance to handle when most of your swings are good-but-not-great. That said, I’d imagine for lower handicap golfers that can hit more flush shots than not, the 825 Pros have a lot to offer.