FIRST LOOK: Honma’s TR21 fairway woods, hybrids and irons
The release of Honma’s TR20 line earlier this year saw the equipment manufacturer launch new drivers (TR20 440, TR20 460) and irons (TR20 V, P and B) that immediately shook up the North American market. Noticeably absent from the initial TR20 launch was a fairway wood and hybrid for golfers who wanted to fill out their all-Honma setup.
While TR20 was being introduced, Honma’s master craftsmen — known as Takumi — were putting the finishing touches on a new line of TR21 fairway woods and hybrids that were officially introduced on Monday.
The Sakata, Japan-based equipment manufacturer is well versed in the art of designing woods and forged irons, with more than 50 years of craftsmanship. It should come as no surprise that TR21 passes the eye test. But there’s more to the TR21 fairways and hybrids than a visually appealing shape. Under the hood is a bounty of technology designed to help better players and mid-handicappers alike.
The TR21 F fairway wood ($299; 15, 16.5, 18 and 21 degrees) is designed around a classic, compact SUS630 steel body that’s ideal for golfers who put a premium on shot making and control. The high-strength steel-face profile was shallowed to promote consistent turf interaction, while two adjustable sole weight ports (forward and back) offer the ability to alter launch and spin rate depending on how the 3- and 12-gram weights are configured. A patented non-rotating hosel system also allows the shaft spine to remain in the optimized position, regardless of how the loft sleeve is situated.
The TR21 H hybrids ($249; 18, 21 and 24 degrees) follow a similar script with a traditional shape and refined sole meant to produce iron-like turf interaction. A SUS630 body is paired with a variable-thickness, high-strength steel face for ball-speed purposes. A centrally located weight can also be found in the sole that assists with optimizing the club’s center of gravity for a consistent feel at impact, even on mishits. Honma’s Vizard shaft is the stock option for the fairway wood and hybrid.
“The TR21 F Fairways and TR21 H Hybrids inspire serious shot-making and back it up with excellent speed off the club face and desirable ball flight control,” said Mark Myrhum, Honma’s director of global product. “All golfers, but particularly those looking for a compact shape that suits their eye, will appreciate the artful craftsmanship.”
Of course, not every golfer is going to benefit from a compact fairway wood and hybrid profile.
That’s where the FTi Big-LB fairway wood ($329; 14 degrees) comes into the picture. At 190cc, the club is a nod to Honma’s “Big-LB” persimmon driver from the 1980s that featured a hollow, resin-filled head and noticeably heavy soleplate. The sweet spot was comparable to that of a titanium club.
The genesis behind the souped-up FTi Big-LB is the same as the original design: generate eye-popping ball speed by placing a majority of the mass low in the head. A 90-gram stainless-steel soleplate and 12-gram interchangeable tungsten sole weight position roughly half the head’s weight toward the bottom of the multi-material structure to produce a high launch and ample forgiveness.
With weight positioned low in the head, the 6-4 titanium body wraps into the sole — just behind the face — where a speed slot is located. The speed slot serves a dual benefit, generating impressive ball speeds off the tee, as well as from the fairway when the ball makes contact low on the face.
“The beautiful large profile with easy launch, penetrating trajectory and long distance is designed to inspire the confidence that players need in their longest fairway club,” McGinley said. “This modern version of the legendary BIG-LB performs brilliantly and will certainly be a much talked about addition to the TR line.”
While Honma already has three TR20 iron models in the line, its latest, the TR21X ($188/steel and $212/graphite per club; 4-11), is geared to fit a wide range of player profiles.
“The distance iron category is the fastest growing iron segment, and the TR21X makes a bold statement of looks, sound, feel and flight that will bring a lot of confidence to players who put this full set in play,” Myrhum said.
The “Players Distance” model is styled after the TR20B blade with an internal cavity and slightly longer blade length that’s sure to appeal to golfers who want to play a blade but don’t necessarily have the game to put them in the bag. Located at the bottom of the hollow cavity is a wedge of tungsten that serves a similar purpose to what’s presently found in the FTi Big-LB fairway, pushing mass deep in the head for a low center of gravity that increases launch and stability. It’s a combo golfers in this category will appreciate.
The tungsten found in each head varies in weight depending on loft — 42 grams in the 3 and 4 irons, 50 grams in the 5, 6 and 7 irons, and 73 grams in the 8, 9, 10 and 11 irons — and is designed to enhance stability and feel. An injected foam was also added to the hollow cavity, just behind the ultra-thin L-Cup face, that tunes feel and acoustics at impact. With a 43-degree pitching wedge, the TR21X boasts the strongest lofts in the current TR iron lineup.
The irons come stock with Honma’s Vizard graphite shaft (55, 65 grams) or Nippon’s 950GH Neo. Honma’s entire TR21 line will be available at retail Nov. 1.