GOLF RETAILING paid an exclusive visit to Mizuno’s tour truck at the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth last month, which is the Official Workshop of the European Tour. Pictures: Miles Bossom
Mizuno has provided an equipment repair service for the European Tour since 1986, with an agreement in place to do so until 2024, so at the practice grounds at all European Tour events, it is the 16.5-metre, blue Mizuno tour truck which takes pride of place.
Mizuno effectively provides a mobile golf equipment workshop for the tour, equipped and staffed by Mizuno personnel, and so the truck is not only key in the development and testing of Mizuno equipment, but it also holds 1500 shafts, 6000 grips and 100 sets of irons at any one time.
“Although many things have changed in the last 19 years, the workshop is one constant that the players can rely on,” Alex Thorne, Mizuno’s Tour Promotions Manager, tells GOLF RETAILING at Wentworth. “The technicians sent each year from Japan are trained to the highest of standards and provide an outstanding level of service to all the players.
“We will attend 20 tournaments this season, and Mizuno has another truck in South Africa, one in the US and three in Japan; one for the Japan Tour, one for the Ladies tour and one factory truck that does custom builds. This European Tour truck will cover around 30,000 miles a year.”
The most common requests from players at tournaments are for loft and lie checks, re-grips and breakage repairs, as well as anything Mizuno’s staff players want to work on, be it shaft changes, yardage gappings, or putting a new club in the bag.
Adds Thorne: “Our most frequent request at the BMW Championship is for rain suits!”
Mizuno’s Swing DNA system
Mizuno says its technicians have found that matching golfers to the right shaft can add between 10 and 30 yards to the shot distance for every iron in the bag, as well as improving all-important shot dispersion.
The company’s Swing DNA system should make this shaft matching a straight forward process by selecting the best three iron shaft options from more than 50 possibilities – after just three of a golfer’s better swings played with Mizuno’s shaft optimizer attached to the shaft, and feeding swing data back to a computer programme. Using unique Swing DNA, which analyses head speed, swing tempo, toe down position, kick angle and release factor, Mizuno’s software recommends the best three shafts to test, and also recommends a personalised combination of hybrids, irons and wedges.
“The fitting process for tour golfers is just the same as it is for club golfers,” explains Simon Keeling, Technical Specialist for Mizuno Europe. “Our shaft optimiser and DNA software is used to establish a starting point. The most important factors for any golfer when fitting shafts is to have the correct weight and flex, but the only difference on tour is that we have a wider range of options with many shaft manufacturers producing ‘Tour Spec’ shafts.
“The unique benefit of DNA is that the golfer has a shaft recommendation after just three swings, therefore maximising their distance and accuracy. For the club fitter, the readings of Tempo, Toe Down, Kick Angle and Release Factor give a real insight into how the customer loads and flexes the shaft during the golf swing, helping to get a better fit not only for irons but all the way through the bag.
“The DNA fitting software not only includes iron fitting and Fli-Hi [Mizuno’s long iron replacement clubs] but also a unique set make-up section, showing the customer a simple lay out of irons, wedges and Fli-Hi’s. Generally with hybrid fitting, a good place to start is with a shaft flex similar to the irons.”
Mizuno reports to GOLF RETAILING that approximately 70 percent of its irons sales are now custom-fit. While around 60 percent of its JPX irons are fitted, around 90 percent of its MP irons – for the better player – are custom-fit.
Mizuno’s top-selling irons in 2014 are its MP 54 and JPX EZ Forged, which the company reports to sell in roughly equal numbers, and count for approximately 45 percent of total Mizuno irons sales. (A good year for the Japanese company would see approximately 6,000 of these two sets custom-fitted.) GOLF RETAILING understands that a new set of Mizuno hybrid-irons is due out this summer.