REVIEW: Honma Xp-1 Launch Event
This isn’t the first time I’ve been part of a club line launch. I’ve been a golf “writer” for almost 10 years and have been to numerous launch events. Since I’ve had the privilege to do this a few times, I’ve made some friends in the industry from other publications. But it was obvious that times are changing from print to social media. In the past it was mostly grey haired men with paper and pencil, now it is influencers with smartphones and followers. There were only a few I knew from their writing, most of those in attendance I know by their pictures. This “new” launch event had more pretty faces than I had ever seen before this type of gathering. Content is now driven by video and photos, not so much of the product, but of the person holding or swinging the club. No event would be complete without an open bar and amazing food options. Well done Honma Team.
The US Honma Team
This is why the renewed Honma push into the US will be successful. While Honma clubs have been available in the US for years, past reviews were positive, and they were sold in big box stores, the US Honma team has great leadership, experience and young talent ready to blossom. Mark King (former CEO of Taylormade, now with Taco Bell) got Honma headed in the right direction and handed it over to guys like John Kawaja, Chris McGinley and Preston Toulon who gained experience for the other big names in Carlsbad which they can put to use in the US market. They also add Jacob Sanborn, aka The Wedge Wizard, to lead their wedge customization department.
The Honma House
Honma’s US headquarters is more than just office space, it has a retail shop, mini museum, fitting studio, tour department, the Wedge Wizard home and all other US operations space. It is just like Honma, a beautifully crafted space that will be comfortable and functional for both Honma and their customers. With lots of flexibility and open air, the Honma House just had a “cool” vibe to it. It is now open to the public for anyone to go and visit for a tour, fitting, or to pick up some Honma swag.
The XP-1 Line
The star of the Honma launch is the XP-1 line of clubs, driver, fairway woods, hybrid, and irons. It might not seem much different than any other club aimed at 8-20 handicap golfers, their story and product is different. It starts with the creation of a product that Honma believes should start with Mississippi persimmon and then hand carve that block of wood into the shape of the driver. Then the head goes to CAD and regular design process. The final steps are to make sure that as well as it performs, it looks just as good. The XP-1 has some slot tech and weighting to make it perform at a high level as well is making it look great. They also have a “holistic” approach to designing and building clubs and shafts. They are the only golf company that designs and makes their own shafts (Vizard). This approach allows them to control every part of the club to perform exactly how they want. The XP-1 irons have a hollow construction and strong lofts which make them launch easy and go far. But even in the irons, the looks are clean and the feel is fantastic.
On-Course XP-1 Experience
Honma hosted an intimate fitting and on-course demo experience. They brought out all the options to the range at Omni La Costa Resort in San Diego. We got to hit everything in the line on the range in preparation for 18 holes. I was impressed by the clubs that didn’t really fit me. What I mean by that is, I hit a 43gram shafted driver that performed and felt great. My best numbers were with the 63 gram shafts, but still was impressed by the 43gram shaft. I hit the irons with graphite shafts and again, they didn’t go in my demo bag, they certainly hit really well. I was bombing the driver on the range and hitting the irons OK. Sure enough, on-course, I was the opposite; my driver swing fell apart, but my iron game saved the day. The irons blew me away with straight, high and long shots with amazing feel. The driver was really good when I put a decent swing on it.
Honma is coming in hot to the US market. The signing of Justin Rose, the experienced leadership team, the Wedge Wizard, and beautiful products that perform. The XP-1 is a commitment to the largest segment of golfers in the US. While this product has a slightly higher price point, there are plenty of golfers that have the resources to buy these beautiful clubs that perform. These beautifully crafted clubs are available now in the US.
For more information: https://us.honmagolf.com/
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