A good deal in used clubs: Mizuno MP-33s

I have plenty of excuses for my 22 handicap. Begin with three kids and a long commute, which leads to little time for practice and not a large disposable income. Typical of many casual players, I figured I needed cavity back irons because they are so forgiving, or so I thought until I purchased a set of used Mizuno MP-33s.

You know these clubs when you see them. They're beautiful. They look like they mean business. Mizuno sold its first classic MPs in the early 1980s. Even today, the line continues to have the same sleek look with minimal branding. Mizuno uses a technique called Grain Flow Forging, which stretches the hosel with the clubhead for a more uniform feel. The 1025 mild carbon steel is crafted into two molds in the forging process.

They're the kind of clubs a high handicapper dismisses based on looks, alone. The MP-33's have a thin topline and no offset, but the mid-high muscle back provides more mass and forgiveness than you might otherwise assume.

My first dozen shots with these clubs on the range were less than encouraging. I either sliced or hooked, but then I struck a 3-iron 200 yards right down the middle. It felt completely different from any other shot I have ever hit -- a strange blend of softness and solidity that my cast cavity back clubs never approached. Yes, achieving such impact may seem more elusive, at first, but I have an addictive personality. Those first perfect strikes were few, but also far on that first day. I was hooked. They ignited a passion to improve my game.

Mizuno's MP-33s are the most honest clubs I have ever hit and I think they are exactly what a high handicapper needs to improve. I believe they give me feedback that I couldn't receive with a cavity back. I am now more aware of nuances within my weight transfer, hip rotation and swing plane. They make me want to hit the range or the links two or three times a week. They demand the best out of me.

And, if you have a limited budget but well-tuned taste, these clubs are an excellent bargain. You can find a decent used set of these beauties for as little as $200 on eBay. Because they are forged, you can take them to a club fitter and have them bent to your own proper lie angles. A used set of MP-33's might not be as bright and shiny as new, but they play the same now as when they came out of the box -- solid and honest.

As a side benefit, now when I show up at the course or range, I look like a player. And, thanks to these clubs, I might actually become one.

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