WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: Honma, the legendary Japanese high-luxe golf brand, introduced its latest two premium lines under the Beres name, both with the same internal technologies but completely distinct aesthetics.
The Beres Aizu, named for traditional hand-brushed coating technique used to decorate bowls and other paintings, features the distinctive red and gold accents and authentic designs on the crowns and cavity backs of its woods and irons. Drivers run nearly $US5,000 each, and iron sets near $US40,000, depending on how customised you go.
The Beres Black features a more modern black PVD coating throughout the series. Aimed at moderate to slower swings speeds, the Beres Aizu and Beres Black woods and irons utilise slots in the soles to create more consistently deeper face deflection at impact for better ball speed. The iron lines also use L-shaped face design that wraps around the sole to improve launch and distance.
THE DEEP DIVE: Honma’s reputation across its six decades of history has largely come to focus on its high-end craftsmanship, and the height of its luxury approach to golf equipment is reserved for its Beres line of woods and irons, which typically sell in the thousands of dollars for a single driver and nearly $40k for a set of eight irons.
Its latest versions do not disappoint on the aesthetic sophistication. Not content with the 24-carat gold accents of past models, the latest Beres Aizu clubs employ the 16th-century Japanese lacquer-painting technique from which the clubs take their names. Those include the recognisable gold and red accents, along with finely worked in details like blossoming plum branches and hinoki leaves.
For those looking for something less ornate, there’s the Beres Black, which features a jet black PVD coating on the woods and irons.
Each of the Beres options features the same technology under the hood, although the Beres Aizu line can get more expensive with its two- through five-star levels based on Honma’s ARMRQ shaft upgrades and increasing use of 24-carat gold and platinum. On the Beres Aizu and Beres Black drivers, fairway woods and hybrids feature a triple slot on the sole, where the sole is divided into three sections. That arrangement is designed to allow the slot to return to its shape more quickly for more effective rebound off the face.
The lightweight drivers, which range in total weight from 282 to 292 grams depending on shaft flex, feature a 6-4 titanium alloy in the L-shaped face with a radial variable thickness pattern, where a thick circular centre section is supported by thicker bars emanating from the centre and thinner regions between the bars. It’s designed for better performance in the heel and toe regions. A low density 811 titanium is used in the crown and body to save weight, getting as thin as 0.5 millimetres. The fairway woods and hybrids use a SUS630 steel (similar to 17-4) with a custom steel alloy in the L-shaped face.
The Beres Aizu and Beres Black irons utilise two designs through the set, but both involve a separate forged 8620 carbon steel body for feel along with a separate face piece. The 5- through 9-iron use a deeper cavity design with an L-shaped cupface to lower the centre of gravity for higher launch. The cavity size and shape gets progressively higher through the set to optimise launch. The strong-lofted set (21-degree 5-iron) includes a slot in the sole behind a deep undercut in the cavity immediately behind the face. The two work together for better face deflection. The separate face, which gets as thin as 2.05 millimetres, includes a pattern of vertical bars on the back to reinforce the thin impact area (2.6 millimetres). The short irons use a full face plate (no wraparound design) for a flatter trajectory.
The Beres Aizu line can be customised based on shaft and custom levels of gold, and is offered in multiple base colours from gold and white to red, black and pink. Drivers in the four different levels start at $US950 (level 2-S or 2-Star) and increase from there. Fairway woods run from $US650 to $US4,950. Hybrids start at $US500 and run up to $US4,950. The irons start at $US400 per iron and go up to $US4,950 per club (5- through 11-iron, gap wedge and sand wedge).
The Beres Black designs don’t offer the star levels of customisation found on the Aizu. The driver is $US1,150 (9.5, 10.5, 11.5 degrees); fairway woods are $US700 each (15, 18, 21 degrees); hybrids are $US550 (19, 22, 25, 28 degrees); and the irons are $US500 per club (5- through 11-iron, gap wedge, sand wedge).