Although they seem relatively new on the scene, Honma are actually a long standing brand and have been around since 1959. They have made quality products over the years but have been primarily focused on the Japanese market, only recently have the rest of the world seen what they are capable of. A lot of this is thanks to Justin Rose, he signed multi-year equipment deal with Honma at the start of 2019 and continued his excellent form to gain another victory within the second week of using these clubs. Yes, lets point out the obvious… he doesn’t use these clubs anymore since his form went downhill but ask yourself, would you really know about this brand unless he started using it!
Why they are worth consideration
So let’s consider a set of irons that you may not have thought about or even seen… the Honma TR21 X irons. Here we have a solid set of irons that resembles a specification we have seen become very successful in the past few years, this set falls in line with the likes of the:
- TaylorMade P790
- Titleist T200
- Ping i500
All of which have been popular and feature a hollow head construction and a slimmer design in comparison to the traditional cavity back irons. With stronger lofts than traditional bladed iron we see a balance of distance, forgiveness, and feel which makes this set of irons a worthy consideration. There are other options in the Honma line up like the TR20 B/ TR20 V/ TR20 P – however this progressive line up is targeted at the low handicap golfers. This is where Honma ‘s TR21 X irons come into play, this is their most forgiving iron in Honma’s Mid-Low handicap set and it comes in with force.
Performance & Feel
Okay so let’s get to the part you are most interested in, how does it feel and how does it actually perform? Now this is a set that is not really built to let you hit the ball a mile and on a straight line all day every day. If you did you probably wouldn’t be reading this as Honma would be paying you to do that in front of millions of people… So being honest as we always are at SSG – they have similarities with the TaylorMade P790. This is not a bad thing at all, I already did a review on these clubs and named them as potential irons of the year (Read about it here). The reason I state this is because like the P790 they sit as a mid-handicap iron and try to cater to the largest target audience. They provide that much needed balance between high handicap irons and low handicap irons, here you get a slimmer design that looks similar to a blade from the front and more like a cavity from the top, mainly smart at address and not too clunky, a satin finish and sharp lines also make it easy to square the face.
The satin finish gives a similar vibe to the i500 but these irons feel that little bit softer due to their foam that sits right behind the face, distance wise they don’t outperform the i500 but they aren’t short by any means. In comparison to the other mid handicap irons in the market they are about average in distance and fall in line with the T200 and ever so slightly behind the TaylorMade P790 and then further behind irons like the Cobra King ForgedTec (they go a mile!). Feel wise they are quite soft, it’s not a dampened feel like you have with the P790 and it isn’t a firmer feel like you feel with the i500. Now let’s get it straight here, if you hit these irons out the middle (like with most irons) they feel great… strong build, soft feel, and dampened sound. Off centred hits here will punish you a bit, unfortunately this is golf and if you want to avoid that as much as you can you need to look at big cavity back irons that sacrifice feel and versatility but give distance and more distance… and forgiveness I guess. So don’t expect magic with these Honma irons, if you are looking at a set like this then you want something you can work with and shape, as well as attractive design and solid feel. Overall it’s a solid set of irons that looks smart, feels nice and performs well.
Here’s the issue
For a set like this, they are priced at around £1200 for a set of 7 irons. Now this positions them at the premium end in comparison to the average set which would sit at around £900-£1000, so the extra cost of £200/£300 for a set of irons that are half decent leaves a tough conversation for the sales rep to have. Therefore, it is hard to point to where you get that extra value when you would test this set against the options we have mentioned before, all of which are well known all over the world and have proven they can produce high quality products. Whereas Honma has been popular in Japan for a long time but less so across the rest of the world, therefore its harder to pull the trigger on a set of irons which costs more but you know less about, especially when considering quality and longevity. Furthermore, the stock shaft in this set is the Nippon NS 950 Neo as well as a graphite option, the Vizard TR20-85. This tends to be a lightweight shaft with less stability so in order to put the shaft in that suits your game you will have to go custom.
Overall, we have a decent set of irons that can compete in the mid-handicap market, you get solid feel and a decent level of forgiveness with a clean design. It’s a solid competitor and worth a test when it comes to a new set, they charge more than the average iron and don’t quite have the same name and write up as a brand like Mizuno for example. However, if you want a different set of irons then this may be a set of irons you have considered yet but it’s one that has a lot of positives.
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