UAE golfers get in the swing - with clubs costing more than a new car

Grab yourself a top of the range set of hand-made irons from Honma Golf - and take a slice out of your bank balance.
Homna clubs retail at $5,000 each. Courtesy Honma
Homna clubs retail at $5,000 each. Courtesy Honma

As the weather cools the golf season gets into full swing in the UAE, with the Abu Dhabi HSBC golf championship kicking off in January and bringing with it the world’s top golfers, including Ernie Els and Rickie Fowler.

If you feel like outshining the most-famous pros, then a top of the range set of hand-made irons from Honma Golf might be a fair way forward, as they will set you back the price of premium brand car.

The price tag might even fluster the usually cool under pressure Rory McIlroy.

Each club in the set of nine costs around $5,000 and according to the UAE distributor Green Sports Co in Karama, Dubai, they are in demand from Russian and Indian customers.

Celebrities including movie star Jack Nicholson and Donald Trump are also fans.

You can also throw in the similarly priced set of woods – driver, 3 and 5 – if you feel like your game could use it and your bank balance can take it.

Honma claims the IS-03 irons are the most-powerful that they have produced in their 50-year history, giving greater distance and “ease of hitting”.

As well as high tech and natural materials, the clubs can be finished in gold and platinum with made-to-order models costing around $75,000 each.

The company started life in Japan in the late 1950s when the Honma brothers opened a driving range in Tsurumi Yokohama and began repairing clubs. Today, they have a 500,000 square metre site in the foothills of Chokai Mountain in the Yagamata prefecture, where 400 skilled craftsmen ply their trade in the Sakata studio.

“Each Honma club requires one hundred people’s hands to build and six months to complete,” the company website says.


Why such a long wait for each golf club?

There is an eight stage manufacturing process and everything is done by hand; it begins with a wood mould and finishes with a balance check.

So is the process very low-tech?

Not at all, both x-ray and sonograph technology are used to spot imperfections in a club head. The design of a club is based on a series of robotic trial-hitting sessions, radar based trajectory analysis, and other forms of scientific testing. But it all comes down to the artisan making each club in the end.

How are they chosen?

It begins with apprenticeship, Honma says, and at the peak of his craft, a Honma clubmaker can imagine exactly how the finished club will feel, and play in the client’s hands. Some Hinma master craftsman have been at their trade for more than 20 years and must keep up to date all changing technologies.

Which famous players use Honma clubs?

Not many. Donal Trump has played with them and likes them.

Why is golf, on the surface such a western-style sport, so popular in Japan?

After British expatriates introduced the game to the Japanese in the 19th century and its early days amid growing anti-western sentiment golf really took off in the country after the second world war. The number of golf courses in Japan doubled in the 1960s.

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Published: December 31, 2014 04:00 AM


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