Best Japanese Golf Clubs
Japanese golf brands are renowned for the quality of their craftsmanship when manufacturing golf clubs. In particular, forged irons produced in Japan are held in high esteem by many elite golfers. While golf equipment prices have increased markedly in recent times, Japanese clubs still tend to be amongst the most expensive you can buy.
Certain brands like Honma seem to specialize in producing the most expensive clubs possible! I suppose this is not totally surprising given that golf in Japan is a very expensive sport. Some Japanese golfers are even limited to just using a driving range as the cost of playing on a golf course is beyond their means.
Let’s bring you up to speed on the best Japanese golf clubs and the manufacturers you need to be aware of.
Japanese Golf Brands
Probably the two most well-known Japanese golf club manufacturers are Mizuno and Srixon. There are healthy contingents of tour professionals on the major golf tours playing their clubs both under contract and as free agents. The other manufacturers listed below are not quite as well known but most would be worthy of your attention.
At one time or another most of the best players in the world have probably played some Mizuno irons. Even if they might have had another manufacturer’s logo stamped on the bottom to meet a contractual requirement. Their development of grain flow forging technology helps them produce irons with arguably the best feel on the market. Based in Hiroshima, the company uses high-quality steel to produce its clubs. Many models feature a thin copper underlay to help produce the soft Mizuno feel.
Sir Nick Faldo used Mizuno blades for a large part of his career.
Their current irons include forged blades and cavities along with hollow-bodied designs in the 921 and Pro series.
As well as irons the company produces excellent wedges in a wide range of lofts and lies. The T22 range is available in 3 different finishes including a lovely denim copper.
The company hasn’t been as successful with its drivers as the likes of Callaway, TaylorMade or Ping. The current ST-220 series driver does stack up well against the likes of the Rogue ST, Stealth and G425 however.
Probably most famous for their range of golf balls. The company produces a full range of clubs with PGA Tour players such as Shane Lowry and Hideki Matsuyamasigned up to endorse them.
If you want traditional forged blades then the Z-Forged irons are available. If you need a little more forgiveness then the ZX-7 and ZX-5 irons have cavity backs to help you out on those mishits. For a more modern club, you could plonk for the ZX-4 hollow-bodied iron.
Srixon drivers have received much more favorable coverage in the golfing press over recent years. Both their current ZX five and ZX seven models feature on the Golf Digests hotlist for 2022 and MyGolfSpy has also rated the ZX7 highly.
Founded by Katsuhiro Miura a master craftsman who takes great pride in creating some of the best irons in the world. Their heads are forged three times which leads to a denser head that up feels more solid at impact and offers greater consistency.
The lineup includes a classic muscle back blade the MB-101. It offers the ultimate soft buttery feel for those able to strike the ball precisely. Although at $310 per club that feel doesn’t come cheap.
The TC-201 irons offer a similar feel to the blades but with the addition of a cavity to help out players that don’t strike the middle quite as often as they’d like. Even more expensive than the muscle back at $330 per club.
For those after a forged blade feel but in need of a large cavity back design the CB-301 irons are available at $310 per club. Up
Honma golf clubs are primarily aimed at average golfers who want to show off to their friends. Most of the expensive options available do little or nothing for performance and are merely for aesthetic effect.
Sets of Honma irons can cost up to $40,000! Drivers might be as much as $5000!
Partly this is down to the materials used in some of their clubs, 24-carat gold and platinum for example. The Beres Aizu model uses a 16th-century lacquering technique and some clubs are worked on by 100 different people!
If you want some bling then Honma is the way to go but if you want some clubs to help improve your game I would look elsewhere.
Older readers might remember Ian Woosnam playing this brand some years ago. Not surprisingly these are quite pricey with a set of Conductor LX forged irons having a retail price of $1800.00! Many of their clubs seem to be as blingy as those from Honma. Great for flexing but probably not so good for your golf.
Have been making a few waves recently with a number of different products. Their current cavity back irons XXIO 12 have been highly rated by Golf Digest and GolfWRX. They have been designed for players with moderate swing speeds in an effort to give them a little extra yardage. XXIO clubs seem to focus more on technology rather than the craftsmanship of their staff.
Epon offers a range of products to suit all standards of golfer. From classic forged blades like the AF-Tour MB II through to semi blades like the AF-Tour CB to hollow body construction with the AF-706. Epon Golf was actually formed to display the forging prowess of ENDO, the foremost forging house. They also produce drivers, fairway woods, hybrids and putters.
Another “made in Japan” brand that specializes in forged irons but also produces a full range of clubs. Their Classic Line includes a muscle back blade, a semi cavity and a full cavity iron. Forged from soft carbon steel to give that soft buttery feel off the clubface.
Where Can I Buy Japanese Golf Clubs?
While Mizuno and Srixon are pretty widely available the other brands listed will be a bit harder to find. You will have to look for retailers specializing in Japanese golf equipment.
You can buy online at sites like TourSpecGolf. They stock a wide range of Japanese golf club brands like PRGR, Seven, RomaRo, Ryoma, Fourteen, Kyoei, Honma, Yonex, XXIO and several other brands. MonsterGolfShop also stocks a number of boutique Japanese brands along with more well-known ones like XXIO, Mizuno, Yonex and Honma.
If you are happy with used clubs then you could check out JapanGolfClubs.
What Does Japanese Domestic Market (JDM) Mean?
Originally this referred to the local home market in Japan for vehicles and parts. In golf, it just refers to products either made in Japan for Japanese consumption or modified versions of products designed for the Japanese market and not meant to be sold in other parts of the world.
JDM products have developed something of a cult following because of the way in which Japanese club manufacturers, particularly irons, make their clubs. The long tradition of metal forging and the mystery of the Samurai sword are all interwoven into the narrative.
Best Japanese Golf Clubs: Conclusion
There’s no doubt that Japanese golf clubs are more expensive than many other brands but few golf manufacturers produce clubs with such high levels of craftsmanship. If you want to flex then you can also do that with some of the most expensive clubs in the world like the Honma Beres irons and woods.