By Jeffrey A. Rendall, Images courtesy of Miura Golf
HEMIJI, JAPAN – I arrived early at a very busy golf course recently and had a chance to peruse the contents of a dozen or so golf bags waiting to be loaded onto carts.
There were the usual names – Titleist, Callaway, TaylorMade, Ping, etc… but there was also one with Miura irons. ‘Wow,’ I thought, recognizing that the brand isn’t exactly rare anymore.
The Hemiji, Japan-based premium golf club manufacturer has come a long way in the last decade or so. Whereas I hadn’t heard of them prior to trying out a set of Miuras in the early 2000s, they’re now a fully recognized product among golf aficionados.
Japanese forged clubs enjoy a reputation as the finest in the world – and it’s companies like Miura that helped establish that status.
Bill Holowaty, Miura Golf’s Executive Vice President, Product Strategies, agrees the brand has expanded. “I’ve been doing this in North America on behalf of the Miura family for over 10 years now, and to answer questions about Miura back when I started, you literally had to go through the whole story. Now there’s obviously brand awareness that’s significant amongst the golf gearheads of the world.”
Holowaty continues, “Golfers in general have more of an awareness of the company now. It used to be that you pull up in front of the club and somebody would ask ‘what are these?’ Now they’re taking them out and going ‘oh, you’ve got Miuras.’ It was great for our evolution and we want to continue to build on that obviously.”
In addition to the bag full of Miura clubs referenced above, I was also carrying Miura MB-001 Tournament Blades for my round that day. When I finished, the cart attendant saw the irons and said “I’m going to get these someday.”
|Company founder Katsuhiro Miura|
This isn’t the only “Miura awe experience” I’ve had over the years. As Holowaty noted, they’re recognized fairly easily these days. The Miura story is fascinating, which certainly explains much of the adulation.
Holowaty says a lot of the brand’s growth stems from word-of-mouth. “This industry is a tough one. We take great pride in the ‘Miura disciples’ as we call them, be it our dealers or the players. They’re trying to take this to the next level, to make Miura ubiquitous out there, the same as an iPhone might be.”
“We realize those are lofty expectations, but right now we believe we have a quality product where the perception is that it’s priced at a point outside what golfers think is affordable.”
“But everything we have now, the quality of products – we’re not averse to paying for the quality. If you look at mobile devices, or headphones, or those things that are out there that we’re spending our money on, we accept that we pay for quality.”
Miura products are pricey, no doubt. But if you’re going to invest good money into clubs in any case, you owe it to yourself to take a look at them. They’re that good.
In the case of the MB-001 Tournament Blades, they’re a classic blade iron in the finest tradition. “I believe there is a perception that the MB-001 is best suited for the better player,” Holowaty explained. “That is a fair statement. But if you were to ask Mr. Miura the difference between the MB-001 7-iron and the CB-501 7-iron, he would say ‘there isn’t one.’”
“Both are the same weight, same loft and same lie and thus designed to do the exact same thing in striking the golf ball. Now that statement isn’t meant to be flippant or condescending, but rather illustrate that regardless of the Miura model you choose, it will deliver the renowned Miura feel and performance golfers have heard about.”
In other words, it’s a matter of personal preference – along with being properly fit. We examined the CB-501 earlier this year and noted it corresponds very well within the cavity-back iron category. Not so the MB-001, which in appearance looks like it could be decades old.
The two irons models look similar at address, however. So once again, it’s your choice on which you want to employ.
Holowaty expands on that thought. “Being able to draw on the experience and expertise of an Authorized Miura dealer is certainly a key to choosing the club that’s best for you. Proper shaft and grip choices paired with length and lie considerations will offer you the best opportunity for success.”
“What fits your ‘eye’ is also important and being able to compare all models will only serve to reinforce your decision, delivering a ball flight that fits your eye, fits your swing, but also the ability to give you that confidence in terms of set-up.”
No doubt. As for the MB-001 specifically, Holowaty said it was developed as a follow-up to the widely successful Tournament Blade, which was introduced in 2007.
“A few years ago, on a trip to the USA, the Miura-san spent a great deal of time on the range watching (and listening) to PGA players hitting balls. While studying their divot patterns, ball flight etc., the importance of the club head travelling thru the turf became more apparent.”
“Mr. Miura believed that subtle changes to the leading edge and the bounce on the sole would allow for better ‘ball on face’ contact and thus deliver more solid strikes. This is what separated the MB-001 from our 2007 Tournament Blade.”
Hear the term “blade” and many players automatically run away. Technology and vastly improved manufacturing techniques have even many top professionals using cavity-backed clubs these days.
Holowaty said there’s no question the blade iron appeals to the better player, but they also see the MB-001 as a popular choice for junior golfers as well as seniors.
“It’s not unusual for instructors to suggest a blade iron for a junior (both girls and boys) The blade can help promote better ball striking as well as delivering positive feedback on a well hit iron. As the junior gets stronger and older, fitters are able to change out the shafts, allowing the golfer to keep the same irons for a number of years.”
“Seniors often grew up playing blade irons and love the look. Working with our dealers allows the golfer to customize his or her set, maybe 6 – PW, with lightweight Aerotech shafts, and hybrids in the longer clubs.”
It’s great how you can mix and match sets. As you would expect, you can custom design your own Miura set – again, with the help of the authorized Miura dealers.
We chose the MB-001 to go with our Aerotech shafts, which we cover in a separate review. The initial look of the clubs made quite an impression. Their blemish-less perfection was evident from the start, something you’ll learn to get used to with all Miura products.
Performance was as flawless as the appearance, though we will note the MB-001’s seem to be a little harder to hit than the cavity-backed CB-501’s. It might only be a conscious difference – ‘wow, I’m playing a real blade iron, they must be harder to hit’ – but off-center strikes in the cavity-backed clubs didn’t seem to miss as severely.
That being said, the MB-001’s will probably appeal to better players because of their workability and instant feedback. I have never been able to hit a draw on command before, but I’m able to do so with the MB-001’s.
And if you hit it wrong with the blades, you realize it instantly.
It takes some getting used to. Players who love pure golf clubs will appreciate the gifts offered by the MB-001 Tournament Blades. I have and will continue to do so, knowing it doesn’t get any better than these.
Why buy Miura?
Holowaty answers. “The unique manufacturing process, which doesn’t lend itself to mass production, means we are able to deliver what are arguably the best forged irons in the marketplace. There IS a ‘Miura’ factory which delivers the industry’s tightest tolerances and makes it possible for all golfers to #discoverperfection.”
Try them for yourself and you just might do the same
Miura Golf’s North American headquarters is in Burnaby, British Columbia.
Consult the website for dealers near you, or send inquiries to Bill Holowaty, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Toll Free: 1-866-GO-MIURA (466-4872)
Find a dealer: http://www.miuragolf.com/find-dealers.asp
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