From 1906 to Major Championships
In 1933, Mizuno engaged in the manufacture of golf equipment – its first products named Starline. Mizuno opened a small factory based near Osaka, Japan, in 1934 for making baseball bats, balls, and uniforms, as well as for manufacturing golf clubs and skis. The company continued to expand into other areas of sports and began manufacturing tennis equipment in 1943. Mizuno’s international reputation for producing the finest quality sports equipment was established in the 1970s’ when it started to export its golf clubs to Europe.
At that time irons were usually forged from a single mould and would emerge rough-and-ready and in need of plenty of hand grinding – a process that created inconsistency. A tour pro might need to order ten sets to find nine irons he was happy to use.
Mizuno’s forging process, which used two moulds, was more precise and required only minimum hand grinding. Consistency was much greater from head to head, resulting in more predictable performance on the course.
A young professional Nick Faldo was sent a batch of Mizuno iron heads from Japan and was so impressed with their consistency that he became a convert – going on to win each of his six majors with Mizuno irons in the bag.
In the 1990’s the emergence of CAD design lead most manufacturers to switch to a casting process to manufacture its irons. Mizuno bucked the trend by investing further in its patented Grain Flow Forging process – aware that casting was inferior when it came to producing precise club heads.
Whilst other manufacturers relied on the payment of players to use their equipment, Mizuno invested in precise manufacturing techniques to ensure that tour players would want to play its irons by choice. Mizuno irons were regularly the most played brand on both the US PGA and European Tours.
Tour Operations Manager Alex Thorne explains “Mizuno’s standard equipment is widely acknowledged to be of a quality that any tour player could use straight from the box. That's why so many players coming through the ranks and big names in-between sponsorship deals play Mizuno. These are the players whose equipment choices count most. We’ve had major winners playing Mizuno irons without payment – often in another manufacturer’s bag.”
One well-known player won on the PGA Tour with Mizuno irons bought at the local pro shop. Arguably the best player the game has ever seen played Mizuno irons through college and when winning his first major.
“When we do sign players to represent us – the key is the same authenticity and consistency Mizuno applies to everything else. Sir Nick Faldo won all six majors with Mizuno equipment, and Luke Donald played our irons from a very young age and throughout his college career. The heads they play come from the same production line that supplies our customers – so they could walk to their local pro shop and order an identical set. That’s what sets Mizuno apart from everyone else.”