Honma has been making high end golf clubs for nearly 60 years, but outside of Japan they are a brand that is not widely known.
However recent expansion overseas and the signing of Justin Rose has propelled them into the western consciousness and the Tour World range is one you are going to hear a lot more about.
Leading the way as always is the driver and the TW747 comes in two models, the 455 and the 460.
As usual in these cases, the two models create different launch characteristics, with the deeper TW747 460 having a centrally located rear weight for more launch and a little more draw bias.
The model I was sent for testing was the more compact and toe weighted TW747 455, which has all the same features in a lower spinning package.
At address the 455 has more of a toe heavy look about it, with a clean crown that does not have an alignment device.
The ribbed carbon crown is made from Toray ET40 carbon fibre, which enables Honma to create the thinnest and lightest carbon crown to date.
The ribs on the inside are positioned to maximise strength and create optimum deflection at impact.
Inside the Ti6-4 titanium head there are two pairs of 'fangs' that are positioned at the top and bottom of the face to increase the rigidity of the face in these locations. This enables more of the face to be at the legal limit for greater ball speed and more forgiveness.
The Vizard shaft is designed specifically for this head, right down to the orientation of the spine of the graphite shaft for optimum performance.
This is known as shaft alignment or puring and the idea is to place the dominant spine of the club on the bottom of the shaft when the club is at address, in order to improve consistency, accuracy and performance.
Some manufacturers believe in this and some don't, but in my experience it does improve the performance of a graphite shaft, so I always get it done on my clubs.
However with most adjustable hosels, the shaft position cannot be retained as you adjust it and then you have to get a professional to adjust the hosel connector to align the shaft to your optimum setting.
Honma has solved this by creating the innovatively titled Non-Rotating System for you to keep the shaft in the same orientation whilst varying the loft by +/- 1°, the lie by by +/- 2° and the face angle by by +/- 1.5°.
It's not the most intuitive system and is one of the few times I have actually had to read the instruction book to figure our how to use it and what the letters, dots and dashes around the hosel mean.
Basically you align the line on the shaft with the line on the head on the back of the hosel.
Then you pick the setting you want and use the Angle Adjustment Bit (yes, that's its name) to hold the screw of the Angle Adjustment Unit in place by lining up the two lines.
Then you put the wrench through the Bit and tighten it up.
It does take a few goes to perfect this technique as the Bit does want to move around as you tighten the wrench. However if you hold everything in the official position described in the instruction book, then it will work.
Whilst this is all very clever and does the job, it can take some time, especially if you are trying to get a specific setting. However it should only need to be done once, so is it worth all the effort?
I took my life in my hands, literally, and played around with the settings on GC2 with Titleist Pro V1x balls and the results were as follows.
The standard setting on the 9.5° head gave some decent numbers, but the spin was quite high and the launch a bit low. Adjusting it to the OP open setting reduced the loft by 1° and opened the face by 1.5°. This did reduce the spin by 300 rpm, but the launch went down too.
Changing to the CL position increased the loft by 0.5° and closed the face by 0.75° and had the desired effect. Launch was up 1° on the standard setting, with the spin down 300 rpm, giving an extra 11 yards carry.
So, if you can persevere and get custom fitted then you can see the extra performance you can get when you get the launch/spin recipe right.
Honma Tour World TW747 455 Driver Verdict
As a technical product the Honma is very high spec and you can see and feel the quality.
The colour scheme may not be to everyone’s taste, but with the higher profile on tour and the premium price position, the Honma brand does have that buzz about it just now.
The Vizard shaft was great and at 50g really contributed to the lightweight feel to help you increase the clubhead speed.
On the course the sound was maybe a little on the hollow side and didn’t really match up to the price point. However the distance performance was right up there with the best drivers from the main brands.
The 455 might be the one for most single figure to mid handicap golfers as it was quite a neutral head despite the toe weight position.
The two different head lofts of 9.5 and 10.5 mean that you can accommodate most swing profiles with the adjustable hosel.
So is it worth it?
On the downside the sound could be better, the hosel is fiddly to adjust and it’s expensive.
On the plus side the TW747 driver is forgiving with good distance, is well designed with quality materials, the hosel keeps the shaft aligned and it has the reflected glory of that premium brand positioning.
Depending on which if these is important to you, the Homna TW747 driver is a worthy contender for your Tour World.