I feel like I constantly hear how superior Japanese golf clubs are. Not sure if it’s media, friends, or what but my ears always perk up when I hear how the Japanese have the best golf clubs on the market.
There is no denying the Japanese are top-notch with their products and their six sigma production. And maybe it’s just a perception that the Japanese take pride in their products and strive to be the best, but I wanted to learn just how good Japanese golf clubs are and which brand is the best.
I’ve never owned a set of Japanese irons, but I’ve had the opportunity to use some of my friends. I was thoroughly impressed with how they felt, the sound, the forgiveness, and the way the ball popped off the club. But I have a feeling my bias may have something to do with my impression.
To see whether it was my bias of Japanese golf clubs or they truly are superior I decided to do some research and the following is what I learned.
The first thing I noticed about Japanese irons is that the pride they take in their clubs is exuded via the price. I think the reason a lot of amateurs or beginners don’t use Japanese irons or clubs is the price tag. In some respects, they are comparable to the top-of-the-line irons put out by Nike, Taylor Made, Callaway, and other name-brand golf clubs.
But a higher price tag is something that you need to be aware of before considering using Japanese clubs. The term “sticker shock” might come into play here. But don’t go running quite yet. You get what you pay for, and if you’re looking to find clubs suited to your game, read on.
Best Japanese Golf Clubs
Mizuno actually started out putting out baseballs and gloves back in the early 1900s. It wasn’t until around 1933 that they moved into putting out golf equipment and at one time had the world’s largest golf equipment showroom. Since then they’ve only grown.
I’ve heard that Mizuno’s irons feel so good you can get addicted to them. This is a powerful claim, and depending on which line of irons fit your game, it would be nice to satisfy that addiction on every shot. The JPX 919 and the MP 20 lines are their most popular. For the lower handicappers, the MP 20 might be a better fit, but if you’re looking for a bit more forgiveness the JPX 919 might be better suited for you.
Additionally, compared to some of the other Japanese brands, the Mizuno clubs are a bit more affordable. On another note, Tiger Woods used Mizuno clubs before his professional days began. If they were good enough for Tiger, they might be good enough for you.
The Honma name has been tossed around a bit more after Justin Rose signed on with them. However, after a few months, the two parties went separate ways. But to Honma’s credit, the brief endorsement put their name out there in a big way. Honma clubs won’t be found in the big retail stores and they have no intention of competing with other lower-priced golf brands. Honma takes pride in using higher quality material combined with precisions and craftsmanship. The result is a highly regarded golf brand but at a cost.
Unless you’re looking to go big in price, and I mean big, the Tour World will be the line that is within reach. The Honma brand is considered Japanese but these clubs will most likely be manufactured in China. Knowing this does not affect me, but I know some golfers are sticklers for where their clubs are manufactured.
If you’re looking to go Honma, the Tour World irons will be a bit more forgiving, while the V line is for the lower handicappers. Check out this review before deciding which line is best for you.
The Srixon brand name is probably the most recognizable brand on the list. Srixon is most notably recognized by their golf balls but they put out some decent golf clubs too.
In 2007 they acquired Cleveland Golf and their offering has continued to expand.
Srixon is another brand name with a more affordable offering. Lucas Glover won the 2021 John Deer Classic using the Srixon Z785 Driver. Since then it’s actually hard to get your hands on this driver. Just goes to show, that what works for the pros will be hunted after by others.
The Srixon irons are a bit of a question. Despite their affordability, performance, and looks they just haven’t taken off like some of their other lines. Depending on who you ask, they may be one of the best-kept secrets. However, as Golf Monthly writes with Brooks Kopeka carrying the Srixon’s ZX7’s the secret might get out.
The XXIO brand is probably a little lesser-known but I’m guessing that’s because of the price tag usually associated with their clubs. The other item I learned about the XXIO brand is its super lightweight irons.
Specifically, the XXIO Prime line of irons. The weight of these irons is designed to increase swing speed (How To Swing A Golf Club Faster) for those golfers that have moved past their physical prime into their intellectual prime years. If your swing speed has decreased or was never one of your best features, the XXIO Prime irons may do you some justice.
Finally, the look of the XXIO irons is outstanding. If aesthetics is of any importance to you, the XXIO clubs will stick out and get compliments compared to other name-brand clubs.
Why Are Japanese Golf Clubs Expensive
When it comes to the cost of a product it usually boils down to the raw material involved, and the labor involved. Japanese golf clubs are no exception.
From legendary Katana swords made by the Japanese to forging the steel in their golf clubs, the cost of clubs is definitely associated with raw material and time manufacturing the clubs. There is a strong focus on looks and durability within the Japanese culture so it makes sense this tradition would carry over to products like golf clubs. From what I’ve learned most Japanese golf clubs are not mass-produced like you would see with the likes of Nike and other big name-brand gold manufactures.
When it comes down to getting what you pay for, you have to determine, does the attention to detail and precision that comes with Japanese clubs equate to a better club. Some would argue the technology of Nike, Callaway, Taylor Made, and such is equivalent to those clubs made in Japan. Others might argue the Japanese have more experience working with steel and know how to make the perfect set of irons.
The limited number of times I’ve been fortunate enough to try out some of the aforementioned clubs, I would be pressed to tell any significant difference. But who knows, if I owned a set of Japanese clubs maybe I wouldn’t be cursing so much out on the course! Hard to say.
Are Japanese Golf Clubs Better?
I firmly believe you get what you pay for. I think we can all relate to buying a cheap product only to have it break or turn out to be a waste of money. The result is usually going back and purchasing a better, more expensive product that does the job you intend it to do. Obviously, the first cheap product is money down the drain, when you should have bought the better quality product, to begin with.
I think Japanese golf clubs are a superior product. But I wouldn’t say they are superior in every way, nor would I say Japanese golf clubs should be used by all golfers. From what I learned they are higher quality and designed for low to mid handicappers.
If I was just starting in golf I would stray away from Japanese clubs until I had an established game and knew exactly what I wanted from my clubs.
If you’re a beginner or amateur golfer, learn all about how to choose golf clubs for beginners.