What you need to know about Japanese irons
In the following we will clarify various aspects you should consider when buying an iron. Japanese irons are not so popular without reason. They are manufactured extremely precisely and in a special way. Mostly forged with very soft steel under high pressure. The result is unique and without comparison. Here you can read why we use 100% Japanese irons.
Advantages of Japanese Irons
There is a good reason why we at ExactGolf only offer clubs from Japanese manufacturers: These manufacturers are extremely accurate and allow us to tailor each club to the individual needs of the player. We are aware that the clubs of major manufacturers who invest tens of millions of Euros in marketing are better known and are greater in demand. However, we could not maintain our quality standards for these clubs. Unlike the irons from these manufacturers, we can make irons from Miura, Honma or Vega exactly the way you want them, with the right swing weight, shaft length, loft, lie, shaft, grip, etc… Especially with Miura irons each of these aspects is perfectly given, we can be sure to only get club heads that fit 100% – especially when it comes to loft, lie and weight – and we are one of the few clubmakers that can build and sell Miura irons correctly. Miura controls quality by having only certified clubmakers build their irons. Honma, on the other hand, would like to do everything themselves and assemble the clubs in their own factories – of course exactly according to customer requirements.
In short: the Japanese iron manufacturers that you can find on ExactGolf meet exactly the criteria that are necessary to be able to offer you exactly fitting clubs.
The vast majority of our clubs are not only fully customizable when ordered. This means that you can not only order exactly as you want, but we can also make adjustments afterwards if something does not fit. A typical case for this is the lie which often has to be adjusted if it turns out later that it is not optimal. This is not a problem with most of our irons. Especially the “classic” forged irons from Miura or Vega can be adjusted as often as desired without any problems.
It is also possible that the loft has to be individualized. This is carved in stone by most major manufacturers and can no longer be adjusted afterwards. However, if you buy a new wood, hybrid or wedge and the gap to the irons becomes too small or large, it is advisable to change the lofts. With other manufacturers you simply have to live with it or buy other material. With us we can modify the lofts accordingly without noticeably changing the playing characteristics.
Apart from that we are able to build every club we offer in the exact configurations you want. This often requires a lot of work, e.g. if the shaft has to be shorter or longer and the swing weight has to be adjusted. This is an aspect that many do not consider at all. A club with one inch longer is ordered quickly but the swing weight will probably not fit at all if no other adjustments are made.
Our available shafts
We shouldn’t call ourselves ExactGolf if we weren’t being very specific. Therefore you should have all possibilities concerning configurations and shafts. However, we have to distinguish between clubs that we assemble individually for you and those that are already in stock and only need to be adapted if necessary. The latter is currently only the case with Honma. Otherwise, we proceed in such a way that we have different heads and shafts in stock and assemble them accordingly.
The range of shafts here is almost limitless. If we do not have a shaft in stock, it can be obtained and installed within a very short time. The shafts that you can choose for irons from Miura or Vega are the shafts that we have been using for many years and appreciate the quality. For most of the players this is sufficient. We offer a wide range in every weight category, every flex and every bending profile. The subject of shafts has become incredibly complex and if you need any advice here, just contact us.
Blade vs. Cavity Back vs. Players Iron
Originally, irons were more in the blade area and only a few years ago a trend towards the so-called players irons emerged. These are very easy to play, have a large sweetspot, forgive many mistakes and ensure that the ball can also be transported at low speed.
A blade, on the other hand, is the complete opposite, it hardly forgives mistakes, you have to hit very accurately and swing relatively fast to get the ball into the air – at least if all other factors are identical. Of course a lot depends on the configuration and the player himself.
A cavity back is a good compromise. In principle it is made like a blade, but the centre of gravity is clearly below the ball at impact. In addition, some manufacturers install additional weight e.g. in the toe area so that balls hit there lose less speed. The cavity back therefore forgives mistakes much better and the ball speed for hits outside the sweetspot is correspondingly higher than with a blade.
The following picture shows very well the basic difference between Players Iron, Cavity Back and Blade. Basically, the main thing is to position the center of gravity of the club either behind or under the ball. In the picture you can see very well how the center of gravity moves down from the Honma TW747 P (on the left) over the Vx to the V (on the right). Players who hold a player’s iron in their hand need the weight under the ball to move it into the air as high as possible and to simplify the playability. While a blade player wants to keep maximum control and swings fast enough to get any ball into the air. The center of gravity is therefore more in the center of the clubface behind the ball. That’s why even well hit balls with a blade feel incomparably good – badly hit balls feel even worse.
Which head is suitable for which player?
It is hardly possible to make basic specifications here. There are comparatively “bad players” who are better advised with a blade and relatively good players who should nevertheless rather bet on a player’s iron. You can’t make it dependent on the handicap alone. However, it is worthwhile to give a few basic recommendations which in any case makes NO sense:
- A player hitting with high consistency and high club head speed definitely doesn’t need a player’s iron.
- A player with a very low clubhead speed should not touch a blade that he probably can’t get into the air – no matter how accurately he hits the ball.
- A player who is good enough to perform various strokes and variations (so-called shaping) should keep away from player’s irons and some cavity backs that make this difficult.
But in the end it is also a very individual question. So there are differences with very good players with high accuracy and swing speeds. For example, one player wants as little offset as possible and therefore tends towards the blade, while the other wants as little punishment as possible for the few bad shots and reaches for the cavity back. Or some players want a club that is as thin as possible because it gives them a better feel in the setup position.
If we can only give one recommendation, it is this: if you are not on one side or the other of the spectrum in any way, you are best advised to use a cavity back iron. However, if you need maximum forgiveness, for example, or if you prefer little offset, you will tend to use a player’s iron or blade.
However, we are happy to help you with this and can help you best in a short conversation.
The best irons for 2021
To be honest, we have to say that we have never been so convinced of our range of irons as we are in 2021. This is particularly noticeable when we try to draw up a ranking list and make recommendations. There are many irons that we can recommend unconditionally – in every category. In particular, this is due to the fact that each of our manufacturers: Miura, Honma, Mizuno and Srixon has improved in comparison to last year. Therefore, it is all the more difficult for us to draw up a ranking list.
The best blades
The least has changed in this category. With the Miura MB-101, we still have the absolute favourite and, in our opinion, the worldwide gold standard for blades. For players who want a real blade – with all its advantages and disadvantages – the Miura MB-101 is still the first choice and this will probably not change in the next few years. For price-conscious buyers, on the other hand, the Honma TR20 B is recommended. And for those looking for slightly larger clubheads but still a blade, the Srixon Z-Forged.
The best “player’s irons”
In this category you will find irons that are still sporty and keep their playability, but are much more forgiving of mistakes than a blade. This category is hotly contested and there are numerous facets to choose from. Therefore, it is not possible to pick a single iron as the winner:
- Sporty player’s irons: The Miura TC-201 has to be our first choice here and it has been winning over clubfitters and players worldwide since its introduction. These irons are also played by Tour Pro Abraham Ancer. They offer minimal offset, can be shaped in all directions and are forgiving enough for good players. They also give the typical buttery soft Miura feel.
A very good alternative to the Miura is the Honma TR20 V, which was voted the most wanted iron in this category by MyGolfSpy. It is priced lower than the 201 and plays very similarly.
- Player’s irons with more forgiveness: In this category we would choose the Srixon ZX7 as the winner. It forgives significantly more mistakes and supports the player with more technology – which is missing in the Miura TC-201 and Honma TR20 V.
- Player’s irons with maximum forgiveness: The Miura CB-301, which we sell most often in fittings, offers a significantly larger club head with more offset. It offers the typical Miura feeling, is classically forged and yet very forgiving. It plays very easy and fits perfectly with light steel shafts like the Nippon Zelos 7 or high quality graphite shafts like Fujikura or Steelfiber.
The best “Game Improvement” irons
The “Two Piece Construction” means much more technique and therefore more ball speed, forgiveness and launch. In our opinion, the two best irons for 2021 in this category are the Srixon ZX5 and the Mizuno JPX921 Forged.
If you want a little more support, you should go for the Honma TR21 X. We have yet to see an iron that delivers such good values, yet still feels soft and looks very classic and not very technical. This iron rivals any hollow construction iron in the world and is available in the best and highest quality shafts.
The Honma Beres irons play in a different league and only work as an overall concept. They are therefore not considered for this ranking.
The best Driving Iron 2021
Unfortunately, the Honma TR747 Driving Iron is now sold out and we are eagerly awaiting a successor. Until then, we definitely recommend the Srixon ZX Utility. A Driving Iron with a compact head that nevertheless contains a lot of technology. For us, the ideal complement or replacement for long irons.
Honma vs. Miura
This comparison interests many players who have a weakness for Japanese clubs. However, the comparison is quite unfair, because Miura no longer produces woods – only irons and putters. At this point we would like to leave putters out of the equation and take care of the irons of both manufacturers.
First of all you have to note that Honma already assembles the irons and we only make minimal adjustments like a different grip, a shorter shaft, a heavier swing weight, different lie and loft, etc. Basically we are flexible here with Honma irons and offer many adaptations which hardly another Honma dealer offers.
Miura is different in so far as they only provide us with heads and we build the clubs from scratch. This is very demanding and Miura only works with club makers who have the necessary know-how. Therefore there are not many dealers who can offer Miura. It is not only important that Miuras are built correctly, but also that the right shaft is chosen. Here we offer a wide range of leading manufacturers like Nippon, Fujikura, Shimada, etc. One thing is important: the shaft must not only fit but also be of high quality. Other Clubmakers offer inferior shafts in order to be able to offer a favourable total price. We find it a pity to deface such wonderful clubs as Miura with bad shafts and therefore do not use them.
This is the fundamental difference between Honma and Miura. With Honma the shaft selection is also very good and if one looks at the TWorld series with the many shaft options one will notice that no wishes remain open. With the Beres series you don’t want any other shafts except the original Honma ArmRQ. These are so extraordinarily good that this is what Beres distinguishes from the rest. With TWorld Irons Honma relies on manufacturers like Nippon, Dynamic Gold, KBS, Project X and others. These are then put together individually in Japan via “Custom Order” and delivered to Europe with a slightly longer delivery time. However, there are also some standard shafts that are already stocked in Europe and therefore have short delivery times.
Our recommendation is therefore the following: If you are looking for an individually assembled club, you will surely find it with Miura. No matter your strength, Miura covers the entire spectrum with its irons. From Blades to Cavity Backs and double shelled irons (Players Irons) there is really everything. Honma covers a similar spectrum with its TR20, XP1 and Beres series: TR20 P and V, XP1 and Beres. The Honma Beres and XP1 are not clubs for very advanced players but rather for those who want to get the most out of their game with relatively low to average head speed. The XP1 and TR20 by Honma are significantly cheaper than Miuras – but not so individual.