By Graylyn Loomis
Ten years ago, just before heading off to college, I saved some money and purchased a set of Mizuno blades. At the time, I proudly played off a two handicap and thought, “If anyone can play these butter knives, it’s me.”
When the irons arrived I played a round with my best golf buddy, a plus handicap who could beat me with his eyes closed. As it turned out, he’d also just purchased new irons, but it was a mixed set: The 8-iron through pitching wedge were the same blades I’d bought, but the mid- and low-irons were cavity-back models. “Why make the game any harder than it needs to be,” he asked before beating me like a drum.
In the decade since, mixed iron sets have become increasingly popular. Right now, 8 of the top 10 players in the world play with mixed sets, combinations of different clubs from their sponsors: If the best players in the world don’t hit a blade long iron, why would we even try?
Recognizing this trend, Mizuno has designed a line of irons—the MP-18—with mixing in mind. Despite different construction, all the options have a similar look and feel and, crucially, similar offsets and lofts (so distance gaps between clubs are consistent). Three of the four models are described below (I left out the blade MP-18s which aren’t a part of my set): All but one (the FLI HI) is available as a full set, but consumers are encouraged to assemble their optimum set from all the offerings. Which is exactly what I did.
Mizuno MP-18 SC
Slightly bigger than its blade brother, these cavity backs have more weight around the perimeter of the head and an 11% larger sweet spot, making them more forgiving that the blades.
Mizuno MP-18 MMC
MMC (Multi-Metal Construction) heads combine carbon steel, tungsten, and titanium, each positioned to shift weight to the heel and toe of the head, increasing forgiveness in a comparatively small head. The weight is also lower to help launch shots higher.
Mizuno MP-18 MMC FLI HI
Available only in 3-6 irons, these driving iron-style clubs share the tungsten toe technology with the MMC line. The head is considerably larger and the top line considerably thicker any of the others, but the clubs are also much more forgiving.
The challenge in assembling a mixed set is deciding where you want the “jumps” between models to occur—that is, where to switch between models. The MP-18, the MP-18 SC, and the MP-18 MMC will hit the ball roughly the same yardages, but they differ in trajectory, workability, and forgiveness. The Mizuno team emphasized the importance of trajectory among the sets and deciding where to incorporate the “jumps” between models.
What did I go with: First things first, I decided to opt out of the MP-18 pure blades. Instead, the 3- and 4-iron are the MP-18 MMC FLI HI driving irons. The 5- and 6-irons are MP-18 MMC. The 7-iron through pitching wedge are MP-18 SC. I made these choices after hitting all the clubs, and I was a little surprised that none of the best clubs for me were the standard blade (so much for my teen-aged ego). What the mixing allowed me to accomplish is progress from more forgiving and a higher trajectory in the low irons, to less forgiving, more workability, and lower launch in the short irons. The “jumps” between models were based on the trajectory I want for my typical shot shape and the type of courses I usually play.
As promised, at address the MMC and SC clubs look nearly identical, while the MMC FLI HI is much thicker and the trailing edge more visible. Despite those differences, the entire set is very attractive and the theory works: The different clubs work well together.
The problem is with me, not the clubs. There’s still a little voice in the back of my head that knows I’m playing different models and expects a slightly different feel, especially across the jumps. I’ve played a handful of rounds and expect it will take a few more to quiet that voice and have total confidence in a consistent feel .
All in all, the mixed set achieves my goal. The hard-to-hit long-iron blades of the past are gone, replaced by forgiving cavity backs, without sacrificing workability and low launch in the short irons. All in the same “set.”