If you’re going to charge $58,500 for a set of golf clubs, you better do a little bit more than toss in some precious metals for flair. Well, while the Honma Beres line of ultra-premium woods and irons draws headlines for its use of 24-karat gold, there are other elements that are actually more valuable to this product line, which is aimed at the more moderate of swing speeds and, obviously, the more elite of wallets. More valuable at least from a golf skill enhancement perspective.
In short, these clubs—drivers, fairway woods, hybrids, irons for men and women—aggressively pursue injecting new performance to golfers looking for all the speed they wished they had.
The Honma Beres line is rooted in intricate craftsmanship, and Honma makes it clear that only its elite designers and club assembly people, or takumi, work on Beres clubs. (At Honma, a takumi craftsman will have been working on the company’s clubs and shafts for 20 or 30 years.) But behind their jewelry-like aesthetic, this generation of the Beres line includes a number of technologies geared to creating speed that explore new theories. Those elements involve multiple internal channels in the sole just behind the leading edge of the iron designs that aim to allow the L-shaped face to rebound like a lever. Meanwhile, the metalwoods utilize sole slots that are specifically constructed to flex in response to lower swing speeds. Finally, the company’s proprietary ARMRQ graphite shafts are ultra-lightweight, yes, but more importantly employ a unique internal metal fiber structure that not only responds at slower speeds but borrows the same shape retention elements that metal displays in its use in fencing swords.
Chris McGinley, Honma’s vice president of global product said the new Beres lineup “brings modern, elegant beauty and high-performance technology to a wide range of golfers who appreciate fine detail and impeccable craftsmanship.”
The new Beres drivers, like all Beres products, come in increasingly expensive versions designated by two-, three-, four- and five-star classifications that push the price from a two-star $850 base price to the five-star $4,500 price tag (the latter feature 24-karat gold and platinum accents). Their key features include a variable-thickness face whose back takes the form of a sunburst pattern and is made of a high-strength titanium nickel alloy. The crown uses an internal array of concentric ribs to improve sound and feel.
On the sole, a channel is cut in to improve the way the lower part of the face flexes, and there are deeper sections toward the heel and toe for off-center hit improvement in both speed and dispersion. The fairway woods use a similar channel structure, while the channel on the hybrids is a uniform width from heel to toe.
“Over the past few Beres generations the Japan development team has gotten more aggressive with the slot designs and thinning the structure down as much as possible,” McGinley said. “You see it in both the metals and irons.”
The Beres irons, which start at $2,100 for five pieces at the two-star level and can reach $31,500 for a seven-piece set at the five-star level, expand on the sole slot concept but use both external and internal channels to boost face flexibility. The face is an L-shaped structure where the sole section wraps well into the toe and across the radius of the cambered sole. The visible sole slot is flanked by internal trenches, including one very close to the leading edge designed to improve low, toe and heel hits and elevate trajectory.
A final key element are the ARMRQ shafts, which in the three- through five-star versions employ a special Torayca M40X carbon fiber developed by Toray to increase strength while reducing the overall amount or weight of the carbon fiber used in the shaft. Honma’s engineers employed that material in the design of their shafts because of its specific benefits for slower swing speed players (around 80 miles per hour or even slower with the driver). The multi-axis weave utilizes aluminum fibers, as well.
“This testing led to a somewhat unique shaft design that is very soft in the middle and higher in torque yet stiff in the extreme tip and butt sections,” McGinley said. “The reason is if slower swing speed players cannot feel the club, they cannot time the club. Too stiff and too board-y equals bad timing. I think we’ve always known this, but we tried to really take action on it. If you waggle this club or deflect the shaft by grabbing the grip and head, you can really feel the flex in the middle. However, we also stiffened the tip and butt slightly. This does a few things. It pushes more of the flex to the middle and it keeps the butt and tip stable when the shaft is recovering after loading.
“The metal hybrid armor fibers that you can see in the butt increase hoop strength, again forcing the flex down. And they provide counterbalance weighting, which generally helps slower swingers swing faster.”
The ARMRQ adds materials to the shafts as they graduate from the two-star level to the five-star level and those elements, including high-modulus T1100G carbon fiber, are designed to improve the way the shaft reacts under the load so it can ultimately help the same effort create more head speed.
Across the entire line of shafts, woods and irons, all of those elements come at a cost, of course. At the two-star level, a full set of driver, three fairway woods, two hybrids and seven irons will cost $6,275. At the five-star level, that same setup will run about $58,500, but will add the customary deep gold paint with vaporized gold powder, a platinum grademark badge on the irons, a platinum ferrule ring, a 24-karat gold ferrule trim and 24-karat gold grip mark. The clubs are available in stores and for order at authorized dealers Dec. 5.