Spy on Equipment: Long Putters, Snazzy Shoes and New Mizuno Irons

Golf gear manufacturers release a lot of new equipment during the year. While the vast majority of offerings are simply updated, tricked-out versions of existing models, interesting stuff does come down the pike every now and then.

Here are a few equipment items that caught our attention in recent weeks.

Bellying up – way up

TaylorMade Ghost Spider

TaylorMade's Ghost Spider putter.

Every golfer of a certain age remembers Jack Nicklaus’ stunning Masters triumph in 1986. Most have forgotten the explosion of putter sales that followed his win. Specifically, sales of the mammoth-headed MacGregor Response ZT putter Nicklaus used to make all those back-nine bombs.

In the 2 ½ years following Nicklaus’ sixth Masters victory, MacGregor sold an astounding 350,000 Response ZTs. A similar boom is mushrooming now in the belly and long putter market.

Late-season victories by Keegan Bradley, Adam Scott and Webb Simpson put extended flatsticks front and center in the public’s eye. TaylorMade recently tripled fourth-quarter sales expectations for long and belly putters, and accelerated the timeline for launching long versions of its popular Corza Ghost and Ghost Spider models.

Cleveland and Odyssey have reported similar success and product plans.

adidas joins street shoe brigade

Constant innovation is a key benefit of the free-market system. And whenever something original breaks through to a mass audience, copy-cats are sure to follow.

adidas adicross golf shoes

adidas' new adicross golf shoes

Hence, Nirvana begat Bush, the Android rode the iPhone’s coattails, and adidas joined the parade of companies mimicking Ecco’s Street Premiere golf shoes.

The adicross is adidas’ entry into this expanding category, which FootJoy, Nike and startups like Kikkor Golf have joined. (For the record, we consider TRUE Linkswear shoes a somewhat different breed.)

What does adicross offer? Lightweight, full-grain leather, five color combos and, of course, a spikeless sole.

Not to be confused with soul-less tripe. For that, we recommend listening to a Bush album.

Rejoice: Mizuno intros new irons

Few golf brands inspire the loyalty of Mizuno, specifically, the company’s forged irons. (You’ll get my Mizzies when you pry them from my cold, dead hands.)

Mizuno MP-59 irons

Mizuno's MP-59

There’s a new member of the esteemed MP family, the cavity-back MP-59. Like its forebear, the MP-58, the 59 features a hunk of titanium forged into the back of the blade. The company claims a 5-percent larger sweet spot on the MP-59s than the 58s.

Mizuno aims these irons at golfers in the plus-2 to 13 handicap range. In other words, you need to be a decent stick, but not a world-beater, to wield them properly.

Top 3 Cleanest Looking Blade Irons

snake eyes 600bThe top 3 cleanest looking blade irons according to golfing enthusiasts seem to be the Bridgestone J38 Dual Pocket Cavity Irons, the Snake Eyes 600B Forged and the Nike Forged Blades. As the top 3 cleanest looking blade irons, they bring something different to the greens with price, quality and distance. They are used by a variety of golfers, pro and amateur, young and old alike.

Rated as among the top 3 cleanest looking blade irons is the Snake Eyes 600B Forged combos PW-5 iron and 4-3 600C iron. Either in wet or dry conditions these two irons are said to be easy to hit and workable in rough conditions. The pros for these Snake Eyes irons being in the top 3 cleanest looking blade irons are in their unique ability for spin control, excellent height achievement and excellent control on distance. The stability of the Snake Eyes irons are valued as well as their good feel with on impact and off impact functions.

Other golfing enthusiasts also value the Snake Eye 600MB for being one of the top 3 cleanest looking blade irons for its club-face center and how it allows for favorable heel center hits. The excellence is encountered with the Snake Eye 600MB when it comes to the flight trajectory, spin control of the ball and distances. The fact that the blade of the Snake Eye 600MB forces the golfer’s attentiveness of the quality center face hit, and not the speed and power, speaks well of its ability for proper ball compressions.

Classified as having some of the top 3 cleanest looking blade irons the Nike Forged Blade have irons that are valued for their distances achieved with shorter forged blades. Although some golfing enthusiasts insist that the Nike Forged Blade irons are traditionally lofted, other golfing enthusiasts believe that the newer Nike Forged Blade irons are modern lofts, yet still look and perform as well as the older versions of the Nike Forged Blade irons.

Other golfing enthusiasts agree that the Nike Forged Blade irons may out perform the MP57’s, yet are still valued for their durability and are less likely to have to need a re-shafting overhaul resulting from bad pitting. This makes the Nike Forged Blade irons, especially when in set combos, some of the most favorite of the top 3 cleanest looking blade irons.

Constructed of 1020 carbon forged steel, the Bridgestone J38 Dual Pocket Cavity Irons are valued for their weight distribution and the golf pride tour velvet grip. Bridgestone has been designing golf clubs for nearly 40 years and are well known for their golf balls. Designed to appeal to the mid-handicaps to the professionals, The Bridgestone J38 Dual Pocket Cavity Irons have high quality Project X Flighted shafts.

Bridgestone J38 Dual Pocket Cavity Irons are a sound compliment to the Bridgestone J38 460 driver with a classic look to its forged cavity backs. Solidly rounding out the top 3 cleanest looking blade irons, Bridgestone J38 Dual Pocket Cavity Irons are valued because of their tapered sole design and excellent versatility when it come to shot making.

Mizuno MP-630 and MP-630 Fast Track Drivers (Spy Pic)

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Mizuno just recently released the MP-630 and MP-630 Fast Track Drivers, both of which are considered "Tour Ready." The MP-630 Fast Track will have 45 adjustable trajectory settings through 16 grams of movable weight. And the standard MP-630 will be the same driver, just with neutral settings and no adjustability. In our opinion Mizuno did a great job with this tour performance driver. Whether you prefer a clean, super solid look, or a techy adjustable head, they've got you covered.

The MP-630 Fast Track driver allows for 45 different trajectory settings through its use of two adjustable 8-gram weights. These settings include the ability to adjust left and right properties, increase or decrease spin rates, and higher or lower launch angles. If thats not enough technology for you, they've also added a Hot Metal Ti-9 Titanium face with CNC CORTECH design provides maximum ball speed and an increased COR area for unbelievable distance. The MP-630 Fast Track also features a player preferred head shape and is frequency tuned to increase solid feel and optimal sound at impact.

The standard MP-630 driver is also "Tour Ready" and has a player preferred pear shaped head. It also has a low, shallow COG(center of gravity) for medium-low spin and penetrating yet workable ball flight. The Hot Metal face of MP-630 is sheet forged 6-4 Titanium with CORTECH design which provides explosive distance and maximum control off the tee. Mizuno also used Modal Analysis and wavelet transform, of recorded impact sound data to produce a pleasing powerful sound at impact.

Both the MP-630 and MP-630 Fast Track drivers will be offered in right hand with a 64 gram MRC Fubuki shaft, engineered exclusively for Mizuno, and the Golf Pride M-21 Round grip. The MP-630 will be available in 9.5º and 10.5º, and will retail for $299.99, and the MP-630 Fast Track will be available in 8.5º, 9.5º, and 10.5º, and retail for $499.99. Custom options are available through Mizuno's Custom Club department. Mizuno will begin shipping the MP-630 drivers in February.

This is one of the few times we can absolutely say that you will get what you pay for if you purchase one of these drivers. Because of the extensive R and D and adjustability features of the Fast Track, Mizuno has created two products that players won't have to worry about replacing for a very long time.

Spy Pics: Mizuno MP-58 & MP-68 Irons, MP-T10 Wedge, MP CLK Hybrid

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From a recent Mizuno press release describing new clubs to be released in late 2009.

Mizuno MP 68 Irons – Spy Pics!

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New pictures of the Mizuno MP-68 are begining to surface. It seems like it will be a mix between the MP-14 and the MP-32. It also has a small and hard to see channel in the cavity behind the Mizuno logo. Overall it looks like another solid semi-blade. As always we will keep you updated as more information is released.

[Images Via golftoimpress.com]

Mizuno MP-52 Irons

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The Mizuno MP-52 irons have a newly designed twin cavity slit that deepens the center of gravity, providing an even more forgiving feel to the blade style head. The small cavity back on the irons was a great adition that made the clubs slightly easier to hit than a full muscle back, and this new update of an aditional cavity on top of that, should make for a pretty easy hitting club. It also maintains the feel Mizuno has been known for by being forged out of 1025E Pure Select mild carbon steel. Overall great iron!

Mizuno MP-62 Irons

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The Mizuno MP-62 is another great addition to the company's iron line up. These irons feature new u-grooves meant for even more control, along with a great players club feel in the blade style head. They also incorporate the slight cavity, giving a bit more forgiveness than a standard blade.

This is one of our favorite irons out right now because it clearly represents 3 very important qualities. A clean look, great feel, and workability without being the most difficult club to hit.

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The only downside to this set would be the size of the pitching wedge(above right). The head looks a shovel. It's not necessarily a deal breaker, but definitely worth mentioning.

The Expanding Grasp of Mizuno Sports: Mizuno Golf Irons

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Mizuno is a well known name across the sports industry so it is natural that the company looks to expand its name and presence in the golf sector. Mizuno Golf Irons are the latest and greatest product to come out of this Japanese founded, Norcross, Georgia based company. Having coined the philosophy “never settle,” Mizuno’s one hundred year history has been highlighted with improving the performance of countless athletes across every major sport known on the planet. Golf being the focus of late, Mizuno is now considered to be a major player in the industry and has signed some of the premier names to its roster: the likes of Luke Donald, Charles Howell III and Stacy Lewis have all played with Mizuno Golf Irons and now have a vested interest in the growth and promotion of the brand from an amateur to professional grade.

Since Mizuno Golf remains in its infancy, the availability of its products on a local level is hit-or-miss. However, Mizuno’s national presence has dominated the market for a few years and has brought several key advancements to the game. Keeping in close competition with older, higher end brands like Callaway or Cleveland, Mizuno tries to provide the best possible, quality product, while attempting to keep costs to the consumer relatively low.

Bringing ten models to the market, Mizuno Golf Irons range in features from the classic straight steel head to the technologically advanced hybrid editions. First, golfers will have to choose between one of two game developing lines: the JPX Game Improvement model and the MP Game Enhancement model. The JPX Game Improvement line offers clubs developed with a deep cavity for maximum forgiveness and greater accuracy, a larger “sweet spot” on the club face to give golfers the added delight of a properly struck ball, and finally, a uniquely designed groove pattern for greater loft, bounce, and power potential. The MP Game Enhancement line is the proverbial older brother to the JPX line. With the MP Game Enhancement collection, golfers are able to experience even greater ball control, a soft, fluid swing emanating from the perfected weighting system, and the patent-pending “V” slot cavity in the back and “U-grooves” in the front to totally enhance an already decent, middle handicapped game.

Depending on which of the ten lines or many wedges is chosen by the prospective golfer, Mizuno Golf Iron sets typically retail for $700 USD. Although the company is currently the brand of choice for amateurs and young professionals, Mizuno remains committed to its customers and will be growing in the future to include more famous names and even better quality products.

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