A year ago, golf industry executive Mark King former TaylorMade Golf CEO became a “strategic advisor” for Honma Golf and even without any insider information the reason was apparent. The Japan-based Honma wanted a bigger presence in the American, indeed the world, equipment market. King has now moved on to the top spot at Taco Bell, but he left his imprint on their view of the equipment business.
The most obvious so far was the signing of Olympic Gold Medalist and the then world number one Justin Rose to an endorsement contract in January 2019 by King. Rose had been part of the TMaG stable, a slot he held for 20 years since turning professional.
All this is by way of introduction to Honma’s newest game-improvement club family XP-1. The newbies have some interesting features and retail in the upper end of the price range usually seen from major manufacturers.
The XP-1 driver has a double slot in the sole to allow the face to flex over wider area which of course is helpful for those times when impact is not exactly in the center and, acknowledging that 80 percent of recreational players slice the ball, weighting has a built-in draw bias to assist squaring the club for straighter shots. The super-light ribbed crown (Honma says is the thinnest in the industry) means the center of gravity is lower in the head, closer to the sole, which promotes a high launch and provides additional forgiveness.
To adjust the loft, lie and face angle the XP-1 driver has an innovative through-the-head design that does not require the shaft to be rotated when dialing in a setting. This is especially important since for best results the high response Vizard shaft is spine-aligned in the factory and when adjustments are made that alignment is retained.
The XP-1 Fairway Woods and Hybrids have a clean look similar to the driver and the 3-wood uses the lightweight carbon fiber crown construction. Both fairways and hybrids have the double sole slot construction and the fairways use an internal weight placement to provide better ball launch.
XP-1 Irons have a large traditional profile with a cavity back and a thin face for added ball speed. Turf contact is improved with the wide soles which also helps forgiveness by adding weight low in the head. Low and medium loft irons (4- to 7-iron) have a hollow construction and a tungsten sole weight while the high lofts (8-iron to sand wedge) have an extra deep cavity for better ball launch conditions.
WYNTK Honma XP-1 Family
Driver: Pear-shaped head with Double sole slot Draw bias with ribbed carbon fiber crown Shaft does not rotate with loft, lie and face angle adjustments Stock men’s shaft 45 ¼” Vizard 43g or 63g Stock ladies’ shaft 43 ¾” Vizard 43g or 39g Retail price $599.99
Fairway Woods & Hybrid 3-wood carbon fiber crown, 5- and 7-wood steel crown Fairway woods have internal weighting Double sole slot design Retail price Fairway woods $299.99, Hybrids $249.99
Irons Thin faced head with traditional profile Long irons have tungsten sole weight Deep cavity design in short irons Wide sole to minimize digging Retail price steel shafts $174.99 each, graphite shafts $199.99 each
Images courtesy of Honma Golf