Equipment Review – Geena Martinez tries the newest club offering from Honma
In our latest equipment review, Geena Martinez, one of our social media partners demo tested the 2022 Honma Beres Aizu golf clubs and in particular, their irons. Honma is one of the leading equipment manufacturers based in Japan and have been making serious inroads into the ranks of professional golf, particularly with their premium performance oriented T-World series clubs. But when it comes to the art of craftsmanship, combining precious materials with golf equipment, then Honma is clearly in a stratosphere of their own.
Known as Takumi, the art of master craftsmanship has been ingrained in Japanese culture for well over a millennium. Some of the finest examples of this painstaking quest for beauty and perfection is reflected in items such as their pottery, with its beautifully lacquered finishes to the well known katana – the sword of the samurai in feudal Japan. Over the past 1000 years, the evolution of the master craftsman, their techniques, and their creations have endured. It was in 1953 when the Honma brothers set up shop in Sakata, Japan and introduced the concept of Takumi to golf.
About the Reviewer
Geena Martinez is a professional woman based in Southern California where she is the Senior Manager of Strategic Partnerships with a national company. She took up the sport of golf later in life, as an adult, partly as a way of feting existing and potential clients, but it didn’t take long for her to catch the golf bug. She has been playing regularly for the past two years, playing several times a week.
While she plays primarily out of her home base in Southern California, she also relishes the opportunity to play wherever she can, including notable courses like Bethpage, Kingsbarns, and Torrey Pines. Her golf goal is to lower her 18 - handicap index to single digits.
Ways to connect with Geena:
Geena was outfitted with the following set of clubs by Honma when she attended their studio in Carlsbad, California:
As noted elsewhere, the clubs tested were not fitted for Geena but were their regular off the shelf clubs with standard OEM grips and shafts
It may seem a bit odd to consider the appearance of a golf club as being an important part of the experience, but it does play an important role for golfers of all skill levels. Looking down at a golf club as you set up behind the ball can leave the golfer with a feeling of confidence, knowing that they can put a solid strike on the ball. For others, it might induce a bit of panic, like setting a muscle back blade with a very thin topline behind the ball, leading the golfer to question their ability to put a good swing on the ball. It may be psychological in nature, but so much of golf relies on a player’s own level of confidence.
As for the Aizu Beres irons, Geena notes they are incredibly pleasing to the eye with their articulated and detailed art on the back of the irons and on the top of the driver. “The appearance of the clubs are so exquisite that I was just drawn to them whenever I took them out and replaced them in the bag” said Martinez. “The beautiful artwork with its distinct detail made me think that I really was in Japan playing golf.”
But as beautiful as the clubs are, she noted one particular drawback – “the beautiful artwork on the back of the club can be a bit distracting when looking down at the ball. My eyes were drawn to the gorgeous art.”
Feel & Performance
With the Aizu Beres clubs being such an aesthetically pleasing design, it’s easy to overlook feel and performance. That’s a fair assessment given that these are “statement clubs”— clubs announcing that you have arrived as a person and a golfer. It’s a statement that one has achieved some success with their place in business and society. After all, you’ve worked hard to achieve your goals in life and want to enjoy the fruits of your labour and playing with such luxuriously crafted golf equipment is one of those expressions.
But the Aizu Beres clubs also draw from their performance line of the TW-757 series, combining industry leading luxury and craftsmanship with serious feel and performance. Geena put her bag of Honma equipment through their paces at The Crossings at Carlsbad, one of the premier public golf course located in the greater San Diego area. For Geena’s review, she was not fitted for her bag of equipment, so it was the standard, off the shelf equipment marketed to women with the grips and shafts being the standard offering for the recreational player.
After putting the clubs through their paces, Geena shared her thoughts with us on the feel and performance. The overall feedback on the clubs themselves were mixed in that there was performance potential, but the lack of a fitting was less than ideal. Nowhere was this more noticeable than in the shaft and swing weight of the clubs. While only a recreational player with an 18 handicap, Geena is an athletic woman, and the lightweight shafts and club heads left her with a less than ideal swing weight. It was something that came up on more than one occasion as she commented on the feel of the clubs, “for me, this was tough because they were so light, there wasn’t enough weight for me pull down and strike the ball. They were light as a feather.”
As part of the Takumi experience, Honma’s master craftsmen handroll their graphite shafts with their own proprietary design. The result is a very lightweight, counterbalanced shaft designed to improve swing speed, but in Geena’s case, she would most definitely have benefited from having a Honma professional fitter assemble some demo clubs. With Honma, the standard swing weight on their women’s irons are C1 and Geena would probably have benefited from an optimal shaft and club head combination closer to the C8 or C9 end of the spectrum.
Despite the shaft and swing weight not being optimal, Geena was impressed with the overall feel of the club in her hands, “the feel holding it was nice as you knew you were holding a beautiful club.” She also experienced a nice soft feeling when she was striking the ball – a characteristic of forged clubs.
As for the performance of the clubs, she wasn’t able to notice a significant difference in length off the tee or in the area of controlling trajectory with her iron shots given the less than optimal shaft and swing weight. However, a good fitter would be able to help her fine tune her clubs to achieve optimal flight, trajectory, and spin. She also observed that her shots with the irons played well and felt good, a testament to the forgiveness of the clubs with their cavity back design and perimeter weighting.
Comments & Observations
Two main observations came to mind immediately for Geena at the end of the day when she reflected on the experience. The first being their craftsmanship and design as she would say that “the best thing about them is definitely the exquisite design and artistry.” There is a saying that in our strengths lie our weaknesses and that appeared to be the case with Geena’s testing. She commented that the drawback of the clubs was also their beauty, “because the clubs were beautiful, it was hard to swing as hard as you almost didn’t want to break them.”
While the clubs are designed to take the pounding of golf balls and the turf interactions that come with it, Geena’s experience is not really unusual as many of us are taught early in life to respect and handle with care the beautiful things in life and the Honma Aizu Beres clubs are definitely the epitome of beautiful design with exacting standards of artistry and craftsmanship. So, if you are like Geena, it may take a little time getting used to these clubs and their ability to stand up to the regular wear and tear of golf.
If you are in the market for new golf equipment and want to make a "statement", then you simply cannot go wrong with Honma and their new Aizu Beres line. It is a timeless craftsmanship that will withstand the test of time.
Where to buy
Major equipment retailers and fitting centres carry the Honma line or you can buy online:
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