Mizuno launched the ST-G 220 driver at the back end of 2021 as part of their continued attempts to establish themselves in the metal woods market. I tried it to see how it compared with some of the better known drivers and my short review would be this - the Mizuno ST-G 220 performed well after a tricky start, I loved the versatility of it and overall I was mightily impressed.
For the longer version and whether it is worth the relatively lofty price tag, you’ll have to read on further.
But before you do, you might want to read about the best golf watches, best golf bags, best golf shoes and the best golf balls on T3. Don't let the bad weather deter you from playing your favourite sport: the best golf waterproofs will keep you dry, even if it's pouring down on the green. And speaking of greens, we’ve also got you covered on the best putters too. But anyway, back to the matter at hand; the Mizuno ST-G 220, a jack of all trades driver that can adapt to fit the needs of most golfers.
Mizuno have been making some of the best drivers for a few years now but a reputation is hard to shift. Mizuno’s image has not been built on the excellence of their drivers. When you think "Mizuno" if you’re of my generation the first thing that comes to mind are beautiful, pure, forged blade irons the likes of which Sir Nick Faldo used when winning several Opens and US Masters tournaments. Mizuno are undoubtedly one of the biggest names in golf but they have never been heavyweights in the driver world.
Even their leading tour players, such as former world number one Luke Donald, did not always have a Mizuno driver in the bag. Significantly, that is no longer the case as the company have spent a large amount on research and development in that area and the results speak for themselves. Donald now plays a Mizuno driver having been suitably impressed by the giant strides made in the last few years. Nowadays Mizuno drivers are excellent, it’s just that not everyone knows it yet.
As with most brands these days, Mizuno tend to have a three-model family and the ST is no different. The ST-Z is a fast a forgiving option, the ST-X is a draw biased solution and the third option, the ST-G 200 is.. well it’s a bit of everything.
Put simply, the ST-G 220 is one of the most adaptable and adjustable drivers out there. It offers different address and spin profiles thanks to moveable weights which can help to achieve different ball flights. That’s its main selling point and the thing it offers that you won’t find in many of its competitors. That will appeal to some golfers more than others.
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Mizuno ST-G 220 - price and availability
The Mizuno ST-G is available from all major golf outlets either in store or online and usually retails at £399 in the UK. This makes it cheaper than the likes of the TaylorMade Stealth (£469), Callaway Rogue (£429), Ping G425 (£419) and the Titleist TSi2 (£499), while matching the price of the Cobra LTDx.
In the US you should expect to pay somewhere in the region of $500.
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Mizuno ST-G 220 - Looks, Sound & Feel
This is an understated looking driver that’s easy on the eye. It’s very traditional in design until you look underneath at the sole and see all the tracks and moveable weights and everything going on down there.
The overall appearance is stylish with no garish looking colours and the all black design means it will blend into any golf bag and not look out of place. Not all golfers care about such things but if you are someone who balks at the idea of a green and white Callaway head cover sitting in your bag alongside a lime green and black Cobra, then the plain grey and black head cover and all black head and shaft of the driver itself should be to your tastes.
The crown of the driver features an attractive carbon fibre look, while a small “running bird” Mizuno logo acts as an alignment aid. At address it doesn’t necessarily look like the biggest driver head you’ll see but the sleek, stylish appearance ensures it remains inviting and confidence inspiring. The head size is the maximum 460cc but the design is such that it appears smaller as it is shorter from back to front but has a deeper face which helps forgiveness on off centre hits.
The feel is fairly typical of most high end, modern drivers; nice when you catch one in the centre and not too unpleasant when you don’t, although there is a significant difference. Personally that’s how I like it. Forgiveness in a driver is good but when I don’t catch one in the centre I want to know it immediately rather than live in blissful ignorance. I don’t want a driver that feels great even on bad shots as what’s the point in that?
The old adage “nothing feels like a Mizuno” doesn’t really apply in this case though. It may well do with their forged irons, but while the ST-G 220 feels pretty damn sweet when you catch it flush, it’s certainly no different to a Callaway, Cobra, Ping or any of the other leading driver brands. They all feel nice nowadays.
I noticed a ‘whooshing’ sound when I first took a few practice swings, which is due to air passing over the weight tracks on the sole of the club. I’m no scientist, but I would assume that might cause a slight decrease in club head speed as it isn’t as aerodynamic as a smooth sole. I did some testing on this on the range and will elaborate further on this shortly.
Mizuno say they have worked hard in recent years to tune vibration levels down and create a more satisfying sound at impact from their drivers. The sound of a good strike is nothing out of the ordinary and it isn’t noticeably loud or ‘tingy’ sounding.
Off centre strikes sound a little different, but again, that’s how it should be in my opinion. There is nothing offensive about it but it isn’t quite as pleasing on the ear as a TaylorMade for example. That’s subjective though I guess, and you might actually prefer the sound of a titanium head.
Mizuno ST-G 220 - The Technology
The combination of three tracks and two moveable weights enable the ST-G to morph from ultra-low spinning bomber to a highly playable mid-spinning option – with fade or draw bias in both.
Mizuno see the introduction in 2022 of the duel weight centre slot as a game changer as it provides a deeper centre off gravity capacity while enabling a significantly higher launch, while the left and right weight tracks have been spread wider to provide more fade / draw bias. You can mix and mix these weights to shape the driver to whatever your needs are, but I’ll explain this in more detail below.
It isn’t just the weighting that makes this driver one of the most versatile on the market. While it comes in a standard nine degree loft, there are four degrees of loft adjustability (from 7-11) as well as a number of lie angle and face angle options, so golfers of most shapes and sizes are well catered for with this driver. It can be quite daunting looking at all of the different options though and you may need expert advice on which setting will best suit your needs.
The ST-G has a new multi-thickness face design which has been optimised to create extra ball speed when shots are hit low on the face. The SAT2041 (super, alloy, titanium) face mixes titanium with vanadium, aluminium and tin, and Mizuno say their blend offers 17% more tensile strength and 8% more flexibility over traditional 6-4 titanium driver faces. This high strength material is also used in the automotive industry and for complex cycle parts.
The stock Project X HZRDUS RDX Smoke 6.0 shaft is 35 inches which makes it a little shorter than many standard drivers. TaylorMade, PING and Callaway are almost an inch longer so you can expect slightly lower ball speed from the Mizuno. Again, more on this shortly.
Mizuno ST-G 220 - How it works
The ST-G 220 comes with a variety of stock shafts available to suit every swing, while the adjustable weights also give you numerous possibilities when it comes to set up. This means you can tailor it to be a draw biased driver if you like, or perhaps you want to encourage more of a fade. The choice is yours. You can have the weights front loaded for lower spin, or at the back of the head for a higher launch.
The way it works is you have three weight tracks on the sole of the club. There is a track on either side and one in the centre located at the rear of the clubhead. You also have two removable weights that you can position in any of those tracks to customise the club. The neutral setting is one weight in the rear slot of each side track. The low spin setting is both weights moved into the front of the tracks, while the most forgiving setting is both weights in the centre track. That produces a little less distance but considerably more forgiveness with off centre strikes. There is also the option to load the weights in the heel or toe side tracks to promote fade or draw.
What this means is that all bases are covered. The more accomplished golfer can front load the weighting to reduce spin and increase distance, while the less skilled player can go with the more forgiving setting. Slicers can use the draw setting while anyone who is looking to promote more of a left to right ball flight can load the weights into the tracks on the toe.
This makes the ST-G 220 an extremely versatile driver that should suit most golfers. The beauty of it is that you can alter the weight settings as your game improves and your requirements change.
Mizuno ST-G 220 - Performance
I’ll be completely honest with you; it certainly wasn’t love at first strike. Far from it. The first half a dozen shots I hit with the ST-G 220 were brutal in fact. I referenced this in my review of the TaylorMade Stealth HD as I think it’s an interesting insight into the subtle but significant differences between modern drivers, and how important it is therefore to find one with the right profile for your swing. You simply can’t tell until you start hitting shots.
To look at the ST-G 220 and the Stealth HD side by side, there was nothing to suggest I’d be able to rip one of them but not even find the centre of the clubface with the other. They both felt nice on practice swings too, so I was not prepared for what followed.
I’d used the Stealth in a previous round and had immediately found it to my liking. The first time I took the Mizuno onto the course I was actually using the Stealth HD for my ‘official’ shots but brought the Mizuno along too because the course I play is usually quiet, so on the more inviting holes for driving I figured I'd take the opportunity of hitting two or three balls with each club so I could compare.
I had been hitting the Stealth HD nicely on the first few holes and when I got to the 5th hole I hit a nice straight one up the left side of the fairway. Full of confidence I then took the Mizuno out of the bag and promptly hit one into a tree on the right about forty yards away. I’ve never hit that tree before despite playing the hole at least a hundred times. I teed up another ball and….clunk… into the same tree! Incredible. It was the exact same terrible shot.
I teed up a third, mindful of not making it a hat-trick and duffed one along the ground into a ditch about 50 yards from the tee. An inauspicious start to say the least.
Back into the bag it went until a few holes later. The 8th is a nice wide open fairway with no real trouble on either side. My ‘game ball’ had been sent 245 yards right up the middle of the fairway with the Stealth HD. I teed up a couple with the Mizuno and again they were awful. Both came off the heel and were squirty low cut shots.
While this isn’t exactly unheard of for me - I’m an 11 handicapper for a reason - the one thing I can do fairly consistency is find the middle of the club face with driver. Where it ends up is in the lap of the gods but I can hit it out of the middle more often than not. So why couldn’t I hit this damn Mizuno?
The answer was almost certainly how it was set up. I had it on the low spin setting, with no draw or fade bias and standard lie. The loft may have been a factor too, as the ST-G 220 is set at nine degrees and is not adjustable. My preferred setting in a driver tends to be 10.5 degrees, which is how I had the Stealth HD set up. Additionally, the Stealth HD is a draw biased driver with extra weight in the heel to help prevent the face being open at impact. Last year I was using the TaylorMade Sim2 Max D, another draw biased driver.
So my working theory is that the loft and weighting of the draw biased, forgiving drivers suits my swing and I had became comfortable with that. Switching back to a setting aimed at the better golfers (lower loft and less spin) threw me off a fraction, but when you are swinging a club at 95mph a fraction can make all the difference.
Throughout the rest of the round I would occasionally take out the Mizuno and have a swing with it on the more inviting holes, but I just couldn’t hit the thing at all and it got into my head. It was infuriating but I surmised that the set up clearly wasn’t right for me and therefore I’d need to do some tinkering. The golf course isn’t the place for that, so off to the range I went.
The adjustability of the ST-G 220 is both a strength and a weakness. It’s a strength because it’s a versatile club that can be tailored to fit pretty much any swing. As I touched on above, if you hit it low, you can load the weight at the back to promote a higher flight. If you slice, you can move the weight to promote a draw. Vice versa if you want to promote a left to right flight. If you want lower spin, move the weights forward. You can also adjust the shaft for an upright, low or standard stance. Sounds great, right? And it is. Mostly.
The problem is that you can get too bogged down with it all and begin to tinker too much. You might just be having a bad swing day but it’s easy to convince yourself it’s because the settings need changing. I’m absolutely terrible for this. Any time I hit a couple of bad drives in succession I would reach for the wrench and move those weights around. A couple of good shots and I’d think I’d cracked it, but then I’d slice one and it was back to square one. The solution to this is to book in for a session with your club pro and have him put you through your paces and figure out what settings you need.
I didn’t do that, it was very much trial and error but eventually I found a combination of settings that allowed me to find the middle of the club face with increasing regularity. I have tested the ST-G 220 with all of the different combinations of weight distribution and some suited me much more than others.
The low spinning setting with the weights front loaded on either side is not for me as I’m just not good enough at golf to pull that off consistently (on the odd occasion when I did flush one though, wow!) and I need more forgiveness. The forgiving setting yielded better results for me but I found it a bit too spinny. There’s an increase of around 200 rpm with the weights at the rear which meant the flight wasn’t as penetrating and I lost distance due to a lack of run and a soft, left to right shot shape.
The draw bias was the solution for me (especially as the ball spins less with heel weighting) but that may change soon as I’m working on some swing changes to eliminate that left to right miss I often have. The beauty of this driver is that it can adapt to any swing changes I do make.
Another possible factor in my initial struggles with this driver when I was alternating it with the TaylorMade Stealth is that, as mentioned above, the shaft of the ST-G 220 is a tad shorter than you will find on many standard drivers. Ordinarily a shorter shaft should help with consistency but if it isn’t what you’re used to then it may have a detrimental effect, at least until it becomes more familiar.
It will also fractionally slow your club head speed too. Not by a great deal, but there will be a decrease, in the same way you can’t swing a 3 wood the same speed you can swing a driver.
And I did see a decrease in club head speed with the Mizuno. The shorter shaft coupled with the slightly less aerodynamic head (due to the weight tracks) meant I was swinging it around 1.5mph slower than the Stealth HD and 1mph less than both the Sim2 Max D and the Cobra Speedzone (a driver I had in the bag in 2020 and which I occasionally dig out for comparisons such as this).
For the record, to measure these speeds I was using two portable launch monitors - the Garmin G80 and the Rapsodo MLM, a terrific little bit of kit that I would strongly recommend to any golfer who spends significant time on the driving range.
However, despite the slight decrease in speed when I struck it well the Mizuno was more or less up there with the Stealth HD for distance. Maybe a few yards less but nothing that would make any difference in an actual round of golf.
I’ve since practiced a lot with the ST-G 220 and I’ve grown very comfortable with it. Those hideous shots from the first time I swung it are a distant memory. There has been no repeat of those 40 yard toe shanks into the trees and I could put this club in the bag for the rest of this year and not feel in any way uncomfortable about it. I don’t know if I will because I really love the Stealth HD, but I do have a decision to make because the more I’ve used the ST-G 220 the better it feels. I recently hit the green with my tee shot on a par 4 on my local course with the Mizuno. I’d never reached that green before, but a lovely strike assisted by a nice tail wind got me up there, pin high. I three putted it for a par, but that’s not the important thing here. I drove a par 4. That’s what we’re focusing on here, ok?
So it took a little time and we had a rocky start, but after putting the work in with the Mizuno ST-G 220 I have grown to love this driver. It really is a terrific club when you find the set up that suits you best.
For me that meant putting both weights into the heel. For others it may be a weight on each side and in the front of the club, or perhaps two at the back to increase launch. You need to experiment until you find what’s right for you, and when you do that don’t be tempted to mess about with those settings if you have a bad day.
Mizuno ST-G 220 - Verdict
The Mizuno ST-G 200 is probably the most under-rated driver of 2022 and due to its impressive versatility and adjustability it will suit a wide range of golfers. If you are in the market for an upgrade on the big stick then add this to your list when you arrange to go for a fitting. However, at the existing price point I suspect many golfers will most likely, and understandably, look to the more established driver brands such as TaylorMade and Callaway.
To genuinely compete in this market it isn’t enough to have a product of similar (or even higher) quality to those brands, which Mizuno do. The only way to really do it is to significantly undercut them in price. Cobra successfully did this a few years with the F9, a driver that was for many the best of the 2019 class but which still came in over a hundred pounds cheaper than other leading brands. The F9 was a roaring success but would golfers have bought it in such numbers if it had been priced similarly to offerings by TaylorMade and Callaway? Probably not.
Cobra have since incrementally increased their prices each year but they’re still comfortably cheaper than most of their competitors. Cobra’s 2022 offering sits in the same price bracket as the Mizuno ST-G but they had to earn the right to charge that much. For Mizuno to establish the same kind of reputation in the driver market that they have with irons, they perhaps need to look at their pricing a take a leaf out of Cobra’s book.
You have to give golfers a reason to veer away from the established names with the strongest reputations, and although this is an excellent driver I have my doubts that it is going to entice golfers away from buying the Stealth or Callaway Rogue when there isn’t a huge difference in price.
That’s a shame as the Mizuno ST-G 220 would be a fine choice for any golfer looking to buy a new driver this year. Give it a chance, see what you think.