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Mizuno JPX 900 – David Llewellyn – Podcast Exclusive

16 Golf Clubs/WWThe days of choosing between distance and feel are over!

The new JPX irons from Mizuno combine the feel that comes from Mizuno’s Grain Flow Forged Player’s irons with the advanced weighting strategies  and aggressive style of known from the JPX series in the past.

The results of the development provide us with 3 families of irons within one line of clubs that will fit any level of golfer: JPX 900 Tour, JPX 900 Forged and the JPX 900 Hotmetal.

And here to tell us more about them in detail, is David Llewellyn, Director of Research and Development for Mizuno.

He also talks about the new JPX 900 driver with New Fast Track Technology and Virtual Face Angle Adjustment, fairways with Quick Switch Hosel allowing +/- 2 degrees of loft, and hybrids with Shockwave Sole for higher ball speed.  All of which are part of the September 2016 release.

Take a listen to David’s interview below on Soundcloud, on our website, or subscribe free on iTunes.

When you’re done listening, be sure to give these clubs from Mizuno a try.  You’ll be glad that you did.

Tom Brassell:  Welcome to GolfBetter at Worldwide Golf Shops, episode 210. Hello everyone, my name is Tom Brassell. Thank you so much for joining us. We’re glad you did. If this is your first time joining us, or you’re a long-time listener and caught every episode, or somewhere in the middle, either way we’re just glad you joined us. Our guest today joins us from Atlanta, Georgia. He is the Global Research and Development Manager for Mizuno Golf, Mr. David Llewellyn. David, thanks so much for joining us. It’s great having you.

David Llewellyn: Well, thanks Tom. I appreciate you giving us the time, and maybe I’ll start a little bit about myself.

Tom Brassell:   Yeah, please do. Tell us a little bit about what you do in your day, your global research and development, right?

David Llewellyn:  Indeed, yes. Actually I’ve been working at Mizuno for almost 20 years now, all in golf R&D. I have an engineering background. I was probably for about 15 years a design engineer. I’ve worked on many project, MP, MX JPX through the years. My title now is Director of R&D, so I’ve really scaled back on what I’m actually hardcore designing right now. Maybe just 1 project per year, and more kind of looking after the team including the soft goods side, too. Lately I’ve been learning a lot about how to make golf bags as well.

Tom Brassell:  Well, you’ve been busy lately. The JPX-900, share with us about that, about what went into that as far as the development cycle and what not, and how you came to get what you have now.

David Llewellyn:  Sure. Where would you like me to start? We’ve got three metal wood products in the Driver, Fairway, and Hybrid, and three iron models as well.

Tom Brassell: Okay, let’s start with the iron models.

David Llewellyn: Okay, there’s three of them. One of them is the JPX-900 Tour. This is very much a tour-oriented design. It’s for the better player, probably from the high single-digit handicap on through to tour level, scratch or better. It is made using our patented Grain Flow Forging process, has extremely good feel, very compact, thinner top-line, less offset, very maneuverable sole design. It’s everything that player is kind of looking for at address, and performance, and going through the turf. Incredible feel. Something that probably historically has been reserved for the MP side of our business, but we wanted to really take off the handcuffs and see what we could do. If we could kind of infuse some JPX technology, and really be able to do some more aggressive things in terms of the styling and the cavity design. What we implemented in the case of the tour model was we added the PowerFrame Technology, which really kind of pushes the perimeter waiting to the extreme 4 corners of the cavity. Even though this thing is small, and compact, and has all the feel you could ever want, it’s surprisingly forgiving. It’s kind of like it deceives the eyes in terms of playability and forgiveness.

The next one is our JPX900 Forged, and for this guy this was a very challenging process, because the JPX-850 Forged was very very successful for us as a company, and a lot of happy players out there using them. We were kind of scratching our heads a little bit how we were going to go about making this better. What it came down to is we just wanted to kind of go, “Across the board, how can we make it better? Take everything that was great about the JPX-850 Forged, and just do it all a little bit better.” Whether it’s the look, we think we’ve upgraded the look of it really nicely with this white satin finish, some really cool badging in there as well. The feel, through our Harmonic Impact Technology, which ensures that everything has that really soft, solid, consistent feel that you get from our Grain Flow Forging, improve the feel of it, and distance.

What we were able to do, and it’s kind of the hallmark of this line that’s been going all the way back to the JPX-800, is we have a one-piece Grain Flow Forged head, so you have the incredible feel there, but we use a material called boron steel which is 30% stronger than conventional forging materials. What that allows us to do is we can make the face thinner and the slot that we mill into the back to form a pocket cavity, we can actually go a lot deeper, and wider, and more aggressive with that, so we’re able to free up even more discretionary way to push out into the PowerFrame Technology. Not only do we get something that launches the ball faster and higher for increased distance, it also has the incredible feel.

Tom Brassell:Wow, wow.

David Llewellyn:We’re extremely pumped about the JPX-900 Forged and it’s going to kind of pick up right where 850 did, but it’s going to do everything a little bit better.

Tom Brassell:   That’s awesome. Before you move on, let me ask you this one. You took the first for the better player, when you tested that, what kind of feedback were you getting, because obviously you test these with your tour players and with people who will give you the honest feedback on it.

David Llewellyn:  Yeah. We do. We bring them out to tour and one of our main guys, Luke Donald, who we’ve been testing with probably for the last decade, he has such a keen feel. He can, like when we’re doing our Harmonic Impact Technology, that’s really at the end of the day we’re looking for frequencies that the head vibrate, and the frequency is what creates that impact sound. He can tell even the slightest difference between all the MPs that he’s played through the years, so we actually kind of dialed it into the frequencies that he really likes, so he didn’t feel any kind of drop-off whatsoever. He was like, “This feels incredible, and the performance is there as well,” so kind of combine those two in the eyes of like a tour player. If it has the performance, and it has the look they need in address, and it has the feel they need, then you’ve kind of ticked your boxes with those. Really solid feedback from the tour side.

Tom Brassell:    You said there was a third JPX-900 as well, right?

David Llewellyn: Yeah. This is really probably the most exciting of the bunch in terms of new technologies. We’ve kind of had a lineage there with the JPX-800, 825, 850, and now the JPX-900 really making some … We did some small steps, and now we’re taking a big leap forward, and the way we were able to do that was with a new material. If you look like at the industry as a whole, this category which is what we call kind of the broad appeal, game improvement category, a lot of 17-4 stainless steel. The problem with that, and we’ve used it historically as well in this category, is that it just wasn’t quite strong enough to do what we wanted it to do in terms of overall extreme geometry of the head, and face thickness, and both speed coming off the face.

We brought in a new material called Chrome-Moly. Actually it’s a Chrome-Moly 4140M. This material is about 15% stronger than a 17-4 steel, so we can go thinner on the face, and also the new technology that were using is what we’re kind of calling a one-piece cup face. I think a lot of people out there have heard the term cup face before, where you have kind of like a cast body, and then you weld a cup face geometry onto that body. What we really wanted to do was we wanted to be able to capture the same benefits of cup face, and that geometry which allows you to have more rebound area for a faster face. We wanted to be able to capture that in a one-piece casting. We were able to do that because we had the strength of the Chrome-Moly 4140 material, but also we used some really advanced wax injection techniques to be able to realize that 360-degree, really deep cup face design on a one-piece.

Tom Brassell:   You mentioned woods, too. Can you go through to touch on those a bit?

David Llewellyn: Yeah, definitely. The JPX-900 metal was … They really kind of almost marks a new pivot or a new chapter in our history in terms of what we’re putting in to metal woods. Through the years, we’ve had a lot of stuff that we’re very proud of in terms of being kind of first to the market with composite crowns, and first to the market with a movable weight within a track, and the MP-600. With the JPX-900, we really wanted to pour everything we had into these metal woods without the constraints of it has to cost this, or you have to do that. Really our guarding force was the performance and the purpose, so we wanted to make sure that every aspect of the design had a real tangible purpose to the player, and we wanted to make sure that we were industry leading in terms of performance.

The driver has some really cool technologies. Of course, it has hosel adjustability for loft and lie. It has a technology that we introduced in the JPX-850, which is the kind of new Fast Track which has the center track for adjusting the up-down trajectory and the spin on the ball, but also it has the toe-and-heel weight ports so that you’re able to adjust the left and right. Some cool things that we did with that, on the center track we actually … If you’ll notice a lot of the truck weighting systems out there right now, the weight has to be in these discrete locations. What we were able to do is get it to where it’s infinitely adjustable, so that you can really dial or optimize your spin in your launch.

Also what we’ve added, and this is new, all-new technology, is what we call a Visual Face Angle Adjustment. It’s this adjustable slider that’s on the sole of the club head that as you move it forward or back and lock it into place, it actually affects the face angle when you put it down at address. Kind of looking back, how this came into fruition is when we were out there working with the tour players, everybody’s got kind of a different idea of what square is. Some players, like one of our UK players, Chris Wood, you can’t get a driver that’s too open for him. We were kind of running into these problems where we feel like we had made the most square driver we could, and it doesn’t look square to players A, B, and C. They all kind of get a different opinion of what that looks like. It was really born from tour. How can we make an adjustability future so that the players can dial in the exact face angle that they’re looking for, so when they take that club back, they can swing with confidence that it’s going to square up through impact?

Tom Brassell:  When I normally have this interview with the manufacturer, my next question will be what type of shaft options and special order features. But with Mizuno, that just goes hand-in-hand, because probably I think our number at Worldwide Golf Shops last year was around 80% of all the Mizuno borders we do are custom orders. You have exactly what the players going to need, but that makes it so important to be custom fit for these. Wouldn’t you agree, David? I mean don’t just pull something off the rack. You want something that’s going to fit you.

David Llewellyn: Yeah, whether it’s irons or metal woods. For example on the iron side, we have our PFS, Performance Fitting System with the Shaft Optimizer, so we can dial you in to the perfect shaft, and also all the specs. Something that we’ve done more recently which is really, really cool is we’ve waived all up-charges for any shaft or any grip, so we’ve got dozens of steel shaft offerings that you can dial into, and even graphite now is no up-charge. We really wanted it to be it’s all about the player, and what their needs are, and if that player needs a graphite shaft to optimize their performance instead of a steel, we don’t feel like they should be up-charged for that. It’s really just one price, which is really cool.

Tom Brassell:   Well, there’s no reason not to do it then. In most cases, depending on what side of the country you are on, by the time you get fit, the orders placed, you might have these clubs in your hand, you could within maybe the same week? It could be within seven days, right?

David Llewellyn: Yeah, and that’s always our goal. A lot of people get fit over the weekend, and then we’ll have the orders just pouring in Monday and Tuesday. Our typical build time is 48 hours, but we usually beat that. Then even out to the West Coast, I think we ship those out there one or two-days Air, so you’re exactly right. If you get fit on the weekends, the order gets placed on a Monday or Tuesday, you could easily be swinging them the following weekend.

Tom Brassell:  That’s awesome. Hey David, the JPX-900s, many many thanks for joining us. Final words for our listeners from the folks from Mizuno up in Atlanta?

David Llewellyn:  Really we just would love for people to get out there and try the new stuff. The driver’s amazing. All three irons. I mean, there’s one in there for you. Go to your Worldwide store and get with one of the associates there. They’re all very very good fitters. They know our system extremely well, and they’ll be able to dial you into one of those models.

Tom Brassell:   David, thank you so much for joining us. Hopefully we can do it again.

David Llewellyn:No, I appreciate the time. Thank you, Tom.

Tom Brassell:  The JPX-900, no up-charge on shafts. That’s just basically unheard of. There is really no reason to not go to your Worldwide Golf retail shop and get fit for a set of these irons. If you go back and listen to podcast number 139 we did with Stacy Lewis, she said when she came out of college there was no decision. It’s Mizuno. She goes, “I’m never going to play anything other than a Mizuno iron.” A testament to how good that iron is. Check them out. This for every player out there from the single-digit handicapper all the way through your higher handicapper that needs game improvement. Well, many thanks to David Llewellyn for joining us today, and to you our listeners. Will do it again next time when we have another episode of GolfBetter at worldwidegolfshops.com. So long, everyone.