With courses getting tighter on the world’s leading Tours, there’s a growing demand for a club that delivers both length and accuracy into fairways that are fast becoming narrow bottlenecks or to par-5 greens heavily protected by sand, water and trees
A fairway metal might not be totally reliable, as there’s a tendency for it to be buffeted in its higher flight, while a 3-iron might not quite make the distance nor produce the feel.
Mizuno designed the latest weapon in the armoury of the accomplished golfer, the Fli-Hi, initially for pros playing on the US PGA Tour’s high risk and reward stadium courses. They wanted a club that gave them a soft-landing alternative to the long iron.
Says Mizuno: "The hollow (yet slightly bulbous) design enables weight to be moved back from the face, creating a deep low centre of gravity for stability and high launch angle. The forged face and neck (304N2 stainless steel) ensures a soft pure feel and adjustable lie angle.
"It’s easier to get airborne than a long iron, solid at impact and more controllable than a fairway wood."
We put it to the test in the hands of five-handicapper Graham Smith, who has a terrific short game and has been looking for a club to give him more consistent accuracy when faced with heavily protected fairways and to enable him to pin-point more narrow necks to par-5s greens.
He told me: "My first impression was that the Fli-Hi club head felt heavy and clumsy. But after hitting a few balls on the range my opinion quickly changed.
"It’s very easy to swing and easy to hit. Feel through the clubhead and shaft flex suited me fine. Distance was about 200 yards with a 20-yard spread.
"On the course, I liked it off the tee and the fairway and was a particular success from semi-rough, probably because of the wide sole plate, which made this shot very forgiving."
Adds Graham: "It will remain a definite addition to my bag"
Price-wise at £109 for a steel-shafted 21-degree version, it’s a bit expensive, as are most utility clubs, but if that doesn’t frighten you off the Fli-Hi could prove a real bonus purchase, especially for lower handicappers not scared to invest in an extra long iron.
|Golfmagic rating: 8.5/10|