The Honma XP-1 lineup of woods and irons may live in the world of game-improvement with their draw-biased woods and multi-material irons and lightweight graphite shafts. But apparently Justin Rose, the former world No. 1 who is the company’s leading tour player, thought they looked good enough for him.
According to Chris McGinley, Honma’s vice president of global product, the new XP-1 line, led by the driver immediately caught Rose’s eye. “We took this driver out and showed it to Justin and he said, ‘Is this a new tour driver?’" McGinley said. "‘No, Justin, it’s a game improvement driver.’ He said, ‘My goodness, well, I have some friends that would like to use this.’”
For those familiar with Honma’s typical product groupings, its better-player lineup of woods and forged irons is under the T//World name, including the TW 747 lineup of clubs, some of which Rose, who signed with Honma at the start of the year, has been playing since January. Honma’s family of clubs also includes the Beres and BeZeal brands that features ultralight woods and oversized, wide-soled irons.
This new XP-1 family might be said to live somewhere in between those two extremes, bridging the gap between more traditional looks and sizes accentuated with game-improvement technologies. Still, whether its tour-level product or clubs aimed at helping the most moderate of swing speeds, the emphasis for the brand remains on what McGinley often referred to as “beautiful craftsmanship.” Example: McGinley said the XP-1 wood designs still begin with master craftsmen shaping blocks of persimmon. Only after those shapes have been formed by hand are the finished “heads” digitized into computer assisted design files.
But these aren’t merely decorative pieces. The XP-1 woods start with drivers and fairway woods that feature ultra-thin and light carbon composite crowns to help lower the center of gravity. Meanwhile, the sole features a wide slot that extends from heel to toe. An update of that seen in previous Beres drivers, the slot contains a deeper main slot closer to the face followed by a shallower shelf. The slot widens at the heel and toe from “a center pinch point,” to create greater flexing lower on the face and in off-center locations that McGinley explained improves gear effect for straighter shots. Internal tabs stiffen the structure of the crown and sole to support the flexing of the face.
The XP-1 line includes hybrids with internal sole weighting within a larger frame to provide high launch and forgiveness.
Like the TW 747 driver, the XP-1 driver also utilizes the company’s trademark adjustable hosel that allows the player to tweak loft and face angles without changing the orientation of the shaft. Honma designs and produces its own shafts, which include Vizard models that come in a 63-gram weight for higher-speed players and in a standard lightweight 43-gram version, among the lightest shafts currently in consumer golf products. The Vizard shaft story extends to the irons, which are available in 63-gram graphite option and in steel with the Nippon N.S. Pro 950GH. The graphite shaft design, which features a high-strength metal fiber in the tip, is aimed at the needs of game improvement players, McGinley said.
“Most game improvement golfers need to feel the head at the end of the shaft, and you can feel the flex in this product,” he said. “We built a lot of flex in the middle part of this shaft and increased the torque so golfer can feel head. It’s a slightly higher frequency shaft, which means it’s slightly stiffer in both the butt and tip. That’s not an easy combination to achieve.”
The XP-1 irons are a combination set that includes hollow irons with tungsten weighting place low toward the sole for higher launch (4-iron through 7-iron). The rest of the set, up to a 48-degree 11-iron, are cavity back designs. The use of tungsten in the sole helps the otherwise strong-lofted irons in the set to produce effective launch angles. That includes a 23-degree 5-iron and a 30-degree 7-iron. The set runs from 4-iron through 11-iron.
XP-1 is available at Honma-authorized retailers and online beginning in October. Drivers will retail for $600, fairway woods for $300, hybrids for $250, and irons for $200 and $175 per club in graphite and steel, respectively.