When I think Mizuno, I think irons. I know they make solid wedges and good putters, too, and I've played them. Maybe a handful of years back, I played a Mizuno driver. It wasn't very long, but it did pretty well for me.
The problem is that "pretty well" isn't a huge selling point. So, Mizuno has put in the work in the last 3-4 years to increase the frequency of driver production and look to build 1-woods that fit more golfers and keep up with the competition.
Coming off the ST-200 series, Mizuno is now introducing the ST-Z and ST-X drivers, taken together as the ST Series, that the company feels with get Mizuno on more golfers' lists for potential new drivers.
The defining difference between the two drivers comes in the name. The ST-Z features weight low and back, on the Z axis, so to speak. The ST-X features weight positioning on the X axis. Both use the second generation of the company's forged Beta SAT2041 Ti face, which the company says holds up longer and stronger than 6-4 Alpha Beta titanium, which is common in driver faces. Carbon fiber plays a key role in construction, which was in part designed to max out the ball speeds available from the face and also to deliver a more solid sound at impact.
Both drivers feature Wave technology, which is an alcove of sorts on the sole that will absorb impact and dampen vibration while returning energy back to the ball for better performance, particularly on shots struck low on the face. This has been a part of Mizuno's fairway woods for a while now, and it's been integrated into these two drivers.
There are also internal rib structures connecting the face to the rest of the body of the driver, designed to increase the coefficient of restitution (the amount of energy returned back to the ball at impact). You can increase COR without necessarily breaking the USGA's rules about characteristic time (CT), which is how long a golf ball can stay on the face of a club, and gain distance.
The ST-Z, available in 9- and 10.5-degree heads, is designed to be more stable and forgiving while still delivering relatively low spin. It has a bigger overall footprint without a deep face and features a central back weight that's meant to boost moment of inertia and help keep the ball in play. This is supposed to offer more pop in the bat compared to the ST-200.
The ST-X, available in 10.5- and 12-degree heads, has more carbon composite on the raised toe side and a sole weight on the heel side for a draw bias. It looks more compact than the ST-Z, with a deeper face and back. It has a more upright lie angle, as well. In this particular model, there's also an option for slower-swinging players called the J-Spec, which brings in a 45.75-inch, 39-gram MFusion graphite shaft to improve swing speed and get the most out of the driver.
Both drivers, with 4 degrees of loft and face angle adjustability, retail for $400 and are available Feb. 18.
ST-Z fairway woods
Although there are two drivers in the ST Series, there's only one style of fairway wood: the ST-Z.
The same concepts apply as with the driver: low-and-back center of gravity, designed to get the ball off the ground and on target with forgiveness. The fairways use the company's MAS1C face and have carbon-fiber crowns to push down that center of gravity. Wave technology carries through here.
There are some subtle changes, like in the design of the leading edge for turf interaction or a better transition into the hosel. It's designed to look classic and sharp.
This isn't a massive overhaul, in large part because Mizuno realizes golfers don't change fairway woods all that often. Incremental improvements mean pushing the concepts forward for the golfers ready to make a change this year.
There are 3- and 5-wood options available for $300 each.