When it comes to new blades making a statement at the Masters, I’d say TaylorMade – with an assist from one Eldrick Tont Woods – won the day with its new P7TW irons. The Twitterati has been making a chrome forged spectacle of itself over Tiger’s new sticks ever since Sunday’s final tap-in.
Yep, Tiger’s new blades are sexy as hell and clearly the girl everyone wants to dance with. Arguably, Honma couldn’t have picked a worse time to officially launch its new blades, the T//World 747 Rose Proto MB’s. We’re not entirely sure what role the double-backslash plays, as Honma regularly uses Tour World in its nomenclature, but hey, I’m all for brevity.
Honma must have been hoping for bigger things from Justin Rose over the weekend to give this week’s launch a little juice – these are his irons, after all. Instead, it got an Augusta face plant: an early trip home and no Masters bounce.
As we’ve said before, if you want to be taken seriously as an irons company you have to have a serious blade, even though they’ll never be anyone’s biggest seller. Unlucky timing aside, by all appearances Honma is offering you a serious blade – if you have the game for it.
Despite a cumbersome name, the – deep breath – Honma T//World (TW for short – another unfortunate coincidence) 747 Rose Proto MB irons – are a compact pure muscle back blade. And as the name implies, these were designed with and for Justin Rose, who left TaylorMade and officially signed with Honma January 1st.
Rose has used his namesake irons in every event he’s played this year, including his win at the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines in late January. Both Rose and Honma are proudly touting Rose’s input in the design process, so unless you believe the design team set a world speed record in getting these irons from concept to design to playable prototypes in just three weeks, the collaboration was obviously going on long before the Rose signing became official.
According to Honma, the Rose Proto MB’s (let’s shorten it to that, shall we?) are hand-shaped at Honma’s facility in Sakata, Japan, using what the company calls a “meticulous, decades-old file and grind process.” They’re forged from a single piece of S20C mild carbon steel (the Japanese equivalent of 1020), and Honma says each iron’s CG is precisely located north-south and east-west for the kind of trajectory and control golfers who can actually play blades are capable of producing.
Ginger or Mary Ann?
Thanks to the confluence of timing and karma’s perverse sense of humor, the P7TW’s and Rose Proto MB’s are due for a lifetime of comparisons. From a style perspective, the Rose Proto MBs are a wee bit busier looking than Tiger’s blades – and they feature a more muted satin finish, compared to Tiger’s polished chrome. For you old timers, consider the P7Tws are more Ginger, while the Rose Proto MB’s are more Mary Ann. Both are pretty; the rest depends on where taste and preference lead you.
Spec-wise, the Rose Proto MB’s are in line with better player irons with a 34-degree 7-iron. Offsets are also fairly blade-like: 0.95 mm with the 10-iron (Japan’s version of a pitching wedge) all the way up to 2.95 mm with the optional 3-iron. If you’re scoring at home, the P7TW lofts are the same in the long irons but slightly weaker in the mid and short irons, with noticeably less offset.
Price and Availability
U.S. pricing for the Rose Proto MB’s is set at $175.00 per club and will come in a 4- thru 10-iron (or pitching wedge) set, so a full set will set you back $1,225.00. The 3-iron will be sold separately.
The Nippon Modus3 Tour 120 is the stock shaft, with the Honma TW rubber grip standard.
The Rose Proto’s are available now.