This spring’s equipment juggling act has guys rethinking to some degree that bouquet of head covers crowding the top compartment of their bag. The swoon for hybrids has people discarding every long iron because, rightfully so, these hybrids are easier to elevate than the butter knives, they work better out of the gnarly lies in the rough grass, and they land softer on the business end of the shot. Who wouldn’t go all in for this concept.
But as the snows recede you may note some better players toying with a new version of their old friends, utility long irons. Titleist and TaylorMade call them driving irons, Callaway’s are utility irons, and to Mizuno they are hybrid irons. They basically took the long irons-2 thru 4 in most cases-fattened the sole and widened the cavity back to improve the center of gravity and make them easier to launch and more forgiving. These will not replace all of your hybrids but for certain players they will backfill niches created by full migration to hybrids.
Players may have found three conditions for which hybrids have left them without an implement. The monster player, you know him, 27 years old, without a dimmer switch, 290+ off the tee, he finds driving it into the tight nook of the dogleg about 240 a tough task with a 3 hybrid. The regular stiffs have that 210 yardish shot into a gale force wind where lowering the trajectory on the hybrid is not an option. Lastly for all of us a wayward drive ends up in the pine straw with a limited access window about 10 feet off the ground 20 yards ahead of us and still a long way to go to reach the green.
The new Mizuno MP-H4 Hybrid Irons have a 2,3, and 4 iron (18, 21, and 24 degrees of loft respectively) which can provide a solution for these problems. For people who actually have to pay for their equipment, Mizuno makes the finest players irons out there. These H4s are Grain Flow Forged like all of their Mizuno cousins and have been craftily engineered by their white jackets to deliver the forgiveness required and maintain the normal top edge look of a long iron.
In my field testing I have found these to my liking, very easy to elevate, generous forgiveness, dependable contact except out of the heavy rough, and very pliable trajectory control. Mizuno offers them in a wide variety of shafts so you need to do some research to find the right combination to fit your swing aptitude.
My son, who fits into the first category above, hits his Zuno H4 2 iron about 240 to 250 off the tee with much greater towardness control than his old hybrid. I used my H4 2 to replace my 19 degree hybrid and the low trajectory and roll out to accessible greens works very well into the wind. From incarcerated circumstances they prove very crafty off of skinny lies with limited windows of escape and a 130 yard carry to clear the rough.
I see both the H4 2 and 3 iron finding their way into my starting lineup at times this year. Seeing that in their current state of mind the USGA is likely to frown on my petition to expand the acceptable club limit to 16, it looks like there will be some serious social networking of long irons and hybrids in the boot of the Mini Cooper this spring.
Watching the flat bellies on TV, you are seeing a number of the pros migrating back to these clubs for reasons one and two. Club players with a bit of imagination are finding some favor in them as well. Much like adding a gap wedge to the north end of the set, going to a hybrid long iron is a circumstantial switch to address voids created by our total abandonment of low lofted irons. If you are tempted by this I highly recommend the Mizuno MP-H4 as a place to start your inquiries.