Expert Review: Honma Golf Clubs
If you've ever wanted to learn more about Honma golf clubs, check out this deep dive into the company and their clubs from Golf expert Rob H.
I often ask my customers, “Do you want to try Honma?” The most common responses are: “What is a Honma?”, “Is that the one with a gopher or a mole on it?”, or “I cannot afford those.” Yes, the mole is their logo, and yes, you can afford them. This company often gets overlooked, because people get sticker shock when they see the $4,500 price of a 5-star Beres driver. Come and follow me down the mole hole into the world of Honma.
Before we enter the mole hole, my thoughts and my opinions in this article are my own. I am not sponsored or paid by Honma Golf to write this article, although I was lent demo clubs to do this review.
I love Japanese clubs. I have played Honma metalwoods and Mizuno irons and wedges in the past and currently play Miura irons, so Japanese golf brands are not foreign to me.
I play at least 9 holes a week and am currently a 10 handicap. When I was practicing everyday of the week, I was down to a 2 handicap.
The company was founded back in 1959 by the Honma brothers in Yokohama, Japan. In 1981, the company moved to Sakata, in Yamagata prefecture. The Sakata site is where manufacturing continues today for Honma products. Honma manufactures and creates almost all of their products in house to offer the best quality clubs they can produce. All of their graphite shafts are hand-rolled in Sakata. The Sakata site is also home to the Takumi, master craftsmen who have worked building clubs at Honma for over 30 years. If you do buy any Beres club, only the Takumi will touch your club.
As I unwrapped the TR(Tour Release) 20 driver out of the box, all I could hear was my wife say, “whoa, that is gorgeous.” She is not one to care about golf clubs so that statement is high praise. I have to agree. The stealthy blacked-out look from the grip to the Vizard shaft to the crown of the club just screams elegance.
The premium look starts with the crown. It is an ET-40 crown, supposedly the lightest carbon fiber in a driver, and it’s blacked out. Most manufacturers leave the carbon weave pattern on the crown, but Honma makes it look like a traditional driver.
Once you turn the driver over, you see the tech. There is a three-position weight system, which allows you to change the flight between high, low, and draw. You can see the outside of the fast frame, but the majority of this driver is carbon fiber to make it light and fast.
The key technology is the non-rotational sleeve. Most shafts have spines, just from the making of the shaft. Honma finds this spine and sets it in the club. The head then rotates around the shaft, open, close or change loft, so the shaft can perform the same each time. The stock shafts are the Vizard 50, 60, or 70 - all of which are holistically designed to work great for this driver. The two different head sizes - the 440cc and 460cc - fit a wide range of golfers. The cheapest version of the new BERES driver will run about $850. The TR20 will only cost around $650.
On Course Review
This driver is fast. Center strikes went a mile and mishits went just as far. The ball speed is explosive. The feel and sound, especially for a majority carbon fiber club, were top notch. Carbon fiber clubs usually sound a little dead, even though they go as far as metal drivers.
The shafts in the club could raise some concerns. The shaft I was using might have been a little soft. The torque on the stock shafts are a little higher than what is standard in the US market, and I would strongly suggest flexing up or getting a heavier weight. Honma Golf also makes amazing custom shafts in the FD, mid flight, and the FP, lower flight. These shafts spec out closer to normal US market shafts and should be strongly considered, especially if you do not want to change shaft weight or flex.
I was most intrigued with the P irons. I tried the TW747 P from last year and just could not get the feel for them; they were cast and had a little hard feeling. Now that the P irons (the P stands for Pocket) are forged, I was hoping for a much softer feel. I was amped to give it a try.
The attention to detail in crafting these clubs is top-notch. The way the lines of the club flow into each other highlights the quality of these irons. The face is constructed separately so the engineers can hide tungsten in the toe of the clubs. This moves the center of gravity to the center of the club head and increases stability in the head.
The lofts are strong on these clubs: the pitching wedge or, as Honma has them, the 10 iron, is at 43 degrees of loft. For comparison, most manufacturers have their pitching wedge lofts at around 46 degrees.
Stock shafts are the Modus3 Tour 105 or the Vizard 85 graphite shaft. You are looking at around $175 per iron, which is extremely competitive with the P760/790 irons from TaylorMade or the Apex forged from Callaway.
On Course Review
What did I just hit…...Holy Moley!!! This iron was tremendous. Even with the stronger lofts, this iron still hit the ball high in the air, and landed softly. It had a great sound and a terrific soft feel.
These were an extreme upgrade from the previous model I tried. The Modus shaft complimented this club nicely. I even had the rest of my foursome try it. They are all 18+ handicaps, and all of them were shocked with how far and accurate the irons were.
This might not be a best iron for a 0-5 handicap - they should look at the V iron instead. The V iron has a thinner sole and smaller topline, which are much more desirable to a more advanced player. These are a strong contender to replace my current Miura irons. Also, remember, with these clubs, the pitching wedge is 43 degrees, so you will most likely need to retool your wedge setup for your wedge gapping.
T/World W4 Wedge
I have used Honma wedges in the past, in particular the TW-3 wedge. I absolutely loved it. It was one of the best-feeling wedges I have ever hit. However, I ended up not playing it for very long because the shafts were short and I could not order them lengthened.
Honma’s craftsmanship continues into the W4 wedge. This wedge contains a beautifully-crafted backing that allows the center of gravity to be manipulated to ensure each wedge performs at its best. The stronger lofted wedges feature an I-sole design that allows for better turf interactions on full swing shots and, starting at the 54-degree loft, the wedges feature a C sole to assist with more delicate shots around the green.
The wedges come stock with a Modus3 Tour 125 Wedge shaft. They offer wedge lofts in 2 degree increments all the way to the 60 degree. The wedge price is around $149, so it is extremely competitive with other major manufacturers.
On Course Review
I tested out the 56 degree, and this wedge felt as great as it looks. The wedge was tremendous at the half shots and chips, pitches and flops. It had a good amount of spin, and you could stop it where you wanted it to.
I did struggle with it on full swing shots. It could have been that the grip was a little small or the shaft was a little short; I usually use a .25 inch over and a wrap or 2 under the grip. I also wish there were more bounce options. At the time of this article, there are two bounce options in the 56 degree and one bounce option in the other wedges.
Make It Your Own
After talking to the customer service manager, I was really intrigued by Honma’s custom capabilities. For a long time, you could not order custom clubs from Honma. It was very much what you see is what you get. But the direct quote I got from him was “the world is your oyster.” Anything you want, they will get and put it in their clubs. You will have to pay for it, of course, but you are not limited to stock options.
Honma has also brought Jacob Sanborn, aka “Wedge Wizard,” a legend in the wedge customization world, on board. He is now making custom stamped and finished wedges. Program details, such as pricing and availability, will be released soon, but you will be able to change the wedge to your liking. You can choose the lettering, numbering, stamping, and even change the finish on the wedges, with three additional finishes likely to be available.
Honma also has another model called XP-1 under their Tour World series. These are great clubs to consider if you are in need of a draw bias and have a slower swing speed.
Honma clubs are at a much more affordable price than they used to be, and they perform just as well as any brand on the market, if not better. To find out if a Honma club would be right for you and your needs, reach out to me or another Golf expert here at Curated.