Getting to know Honma Golf, a breakout performer in 2022

·4 min read

Sixty-three years.

Few equipment companies have been around for as long as Honma Golf. Founded in Sakata, Japan, in 1959, Honma is a legendary, luxury lifestyle brand in its homeland. By contrast, many golfers in the U.S. might be unfamiliar with the innovative company because it set up shop here just six years ago. “From start to finish, all research, design, testing, and manufacturing is performed in-house,” says Lorena Padilla, Chief Marketing Officer, Honma Golf. Their holistic approach, which includes shaft making, allows for total control over the finished product.

On the one hand, Honma is a modern, high-tech organization. Yet, it’s also renowned for old-school craftsmanship and artistry. “We make the shape of our woods by hand-shaving a block of persimmon rather than doing it with CAD [Computer Aided Design],” says Takahiro Suzuki, Head of Product Development, Honma Golf. “The result is unique curves that cannot be expressed by CAD, plus beautiful shapes that only skilled craftsmen can do.” Blending the old with the new is paying off: the company just reported the highest yearly revenues and profits in history.

There’s artistry in building shafts as well. Consider this: Master craftsmen (or “Takumi”) roll each shaft by hand. “The handmade process is superior to automation in craftsmanship, which affects quality,” says Suzuki. “However, some automation has been adopted where the output is consistent with the handmade processes, and quality and accuracy are maintained.”

Proprietary ARMRQ MX shafts, which are featured in the flagship BERES Aizu line, come in four designs. The high-performance, lightweight models (called “2 Star,” “3 Star,” “4 Star” or “5 Star”) are made from highly elastic carbon fiber and are counter-balanced to help players achieve faster swing speeds. Plus, the Takumis set each shaft’s “spine” at the same orientation (6 o’clock) for shot-to-shot consistency. Moving from the 2S (short for “2 Star”) to 5S (“5 Star”), golfers can expect improved material quality and strength-to-weight ratios, plus lower torque.

Engineered for affluent golfers, the ultra-premium BERES Aizu family is best for 80- to 95-mph swing speeds. The driver, fairway woods and hybrids, for instance, have three slots along the sole, which flex at impact to increase ball speed on mis-hits. In addition, the driver has an L-shaped “cup face” to boost initial speed and launch, while the radial pattern behind the clubface expands the effective hitting area so off-center hits play more like center strikes. But here’s the real showstopper: The club ferrules used with the 4S shaft have 24K gold in them, while the ferrules in the 5S design have 24K gold and platinum. There’s also 24K gold in the butt cap of the grip.

The meticulous craftsmanship, premium materials, custom shafts and precious metals are standard in the BERES lineup. In terms of starting prices, the driver is $949, fairway wood is $649, hybrid is $499, and the set of six irons begin at $2,800 for men or $2,400 for women. (Prices listed are for the 2-star BERES.)

For the majority of avid golfers, the Tour World 757 series is the way to go. TW757s feature the hand-rolled, custom-designed Vizard graphite shaft. Again, Honma is striving to improve carry distance and direction by integrating innovative shaft technologies (i.e., amorphous metal fiber) with the clubheads. The lineup has two driver models, the TW 757 S (450cc) and TW757 D (460cc). Both versions have a carbon-filled slot along the sole. When shots hit the lower half of the face, it flexes to maintain ball speed and launch. Players can also tweak the club’s performance with two movable sole weights—the heavier 9-gram plug in the rear increases the moment of inertia, while moving the weight closer to the face should create a flatter ball flight. The TW757 series is on par with many competitors’ high-end offerings: driver, $719 to $829; fairway wood, $415; hybrid, $350.

Additionally, Tour World 757 irons come in three distinct models: the TW757 Vx classic forged cavity back for responsive feel and distance control, TW757 B muscleback blade for precision ball strikers, and the forgiving 757 P players’ distance iron with tungsten sole weights, undercut cavity, and cup-face designs. Sets of six TW 757 irons range from $1,272/steel to $1,500/graphite.

Interested in experiencing Honma’s clubmaking and craftsmanship? Use the “Locator” tab on the website to find courses and retail-store locations near you.

Story originally appeared on GolfWeek