Interview with Adam Barr President of Miura Golf
Adam Barr: I want people to know that even as a small company, we’re able to do big things in playability and
manufacturing excellence. I want people to understand that there is a forged club for any kind of golfer; you don’t have to be a low handicapper. If I have gotten those messages across, we as a company will have succeeded.
What is in the bag?
Adam Barr: Ooh, I love this question.
Driver: Miura SIT-460, 10.5 degrees
3-wood: Miura Precious Edition
Hybrids: Miura MG, 20 and 23 degrees
Irons: Miura CB-501 5-PW
Wedges: Miura Y-Grind (51 degrees), Miura K-Grind (56 degrees), Miura C-Grind (59 degrees)
Putter: Miura KM-006
All in a black-and-white Miura-logo carry bag by Sun Mountain
While Mr. Miura is the man right now, is there an apprentice in training? Is there a succession plan once he decides to leave the grinding wheel?
Adam Barr: Well, beyond training, really: Yoshitaka Miura, the patriarch’s older son, has been grinding at his father’s side for many years. Yoshitaka-san will be the first to tell you he has much to learn, but he is being hard on himself. He knows a great deal already, and he learned it from the master. I have seen Yoshitaka-san grinding sand wedges for K.J. Choi on site at a tournament, handing them over to K.J. for immediate trial — nerve-wracking, to be sure, but Yoshitaka-san was cool and confident in his developing expertise.
Meanwhile, Shinei Miura, the other son, has become an expert in forging techniques. He also has a lot of the day-to-day business responsibilities, and he participates in design decisions.
And all this time, Miura-san is still grinding and shaping and letting his brain work on golf equipment problems — the things that stimulate him. So what you really have is a two-generation triple threat: each one taking ideas for clubs, processes and techniques to the other two, thinking and talking and brainstorming and trying and trying again and coming up with wonderfully beautiful and playable clubs. From my perspective, it’s breathtaking to watch.
Some companies want to have the most drivers or wedges on tour; yet Miura seems mostly absent from the tour. Does Miura have any plans to crack into the tour? Why or why not?
Adam Barr: No, we don’t. We are happy to provide clubs at no charge for any player who wants to use them on the major tours. And some have kindly take us up on the offer. But we do not pay players to play our clubs. This is a matter of economic reality — we’re profitable, but simply not big enough to play in the modern endorsement arena, where the services of a top player can command half a million dollars.
But more important, it’s a matter of policy. We believe that a paid endorsement can never be completely free of economic doubt. We have relatively few players using our clubs, and we refrain from naming them publicly because we don’t presume on their good nature. But they have decided to forego easy endorsement money, and instead, they use our clubs as the tools of their trade without monetary compensation. There can be no more powerful endorsement than that. Word gets out; people who follow golf and golf clubs know who these players are. That’s an enormous honor for us. We take it very seriously.
How does the US golf market compare with the Asian and European Golf market? Have you found Miura’s success varied by region?
Adam Barr: Each market has its demand characteristics, even quirks, and they can range from leading edge preferences for dealing with regional turf to preferred colors and shapes. We have been lucky enough to do well the world over, although regional economies make our results fluctuate just as with other businesses.
We have a trusted network of regional distributors who advise us on what works in their part of the world. A paint fill or hosel look that works in Germany might be received cooly in Singapore. We take all this into account in developing new designs, and so far we have been able to satisfy a great number of golfers.
What is the one area that you think Miura can grow/improve?
Adam Barr: I hammer on this a lot, but I think our top area for improvement is storytelling. We simply need to continue to get the word out, to tell everyone what a treasure these clubs are. We need to make sure people know who is behind the clubs — the Miura family. And we need everyone to understand that forged golf clubs are for every kind of golfer, not just low handicap players.
The K-grind has to be my favorite Miura design, it works incredibly well. What are Mr. Miura’s thoughts on using that grind in other applications, like other lofted wedges and even irons?
Adam Barr: We keep hearing requests for more lofts in the K, and it may happen. As for “regular” irons, Miura-san has not yet seen a clear enough benefit in turf interaction to consider that kind of sole modification. It seems to work better for less-than-full shots out of challenging lies.
As for sole modifications in general, the Miuras are happy to experiment with them…but they don’t always come out looking as distinctive as the K-Grind does. For example, examine the sole of the Passing Point 9003 iron carefully, and you’ll see an aggressive rounding and shaping that gets through the turf well, especially for people who “sweep” at the ball a bit. But the overall look is well-blended and fairly typical. The 9003 sole’s chief victory is that it doesn’t seem wide or “wrenchy.”
When it comes to producing clubs for retail, what kind of input do you have? Are you involved in any of the design elements, looks,stamping, specs, etc?
I am asked for and I give my opinion, but there are wiser design heads in the company than mine — the Miuras, of course, and Bill Holowaty, our VP of product strategies. So I know my place, and I’m happy with it. The fact that
these experts, both in Japan and Canada, will even listen to me is a great compliment.
What is Miura’s best-selling product of all time? Why do you believe it has been so popular?
Adam Barr: The Miura Blade and the CB-501’s are running neck and neck right now. Blade design since 2007 (which gives proof to not changing something for the sake of marketing) is right now, but soon to be passed by the CB 501, which in the beneficiary of more brand awareness for Miura.
What is up for Miura next? What should we look forward to in 2013?
Adam Barr: From a golf club point of view, it’s hard to say. I’m not being cagey; we really don’t know for sure. We purposely operate on a development calendar that relies on the mind of Miura-san and his sons. They don’t rush ideas, so neither do we. They always have projects and prototypes going, so I’m sure something will come along. At the moment, though, nothing specific for 2013.
We had a busy 2012: new driver (SIT-460), new mallet putter (KM-007), and a new series of wedges (five lofts in odd numbers, 51 through 59).
Anything that you would like to share about yourself or Miura that we really need to know? Either a rumor that needs to be stopped or something that just isn’t talked about enough concerning yourself or Miura?
Adam Barr: I mentioned it before, but it bears repeating: Forged clubs are not just for skilled players and low handicappers. We have many models that can help medium and higher handicap players enjoy the purity of the strike, the greatest feel in sports. The Miura family’s skill in designing everything from blades to cavity backs — and manufacturing them to the highest quality every single time — has opened up a brave new world of forged excellence to every golfer. Never hurts that the clubs are beautiful too.
I’ll know we have succeeded in this part of our job when I no longer get emails from people saying, “I’m a 9 handicap –am I good enough to play your clubs?” I always write back, “Nine?! You could be 29 and we could help you!” And that opens up a fun discussion of all that can be done for golfers with fine forged Miura clubs. We have corrected — and converted — many people away from that low-handicap myth since I joined, and it’s my favorite part of the job. Now, to keep the momentum going….