Miura continues its 2018 redefinition tour with the launch of its IC-601 irons ($280/club MSRP), a hollow-body distance-oriented iron targeted at mid to high handicap golfers who want to bag Miura irons, but who may not have the game for its flagship muscle-back and players cavity-back models. Out of the gate, the IC-601 is currently available for right-hand golfers only in 4-PW.
This release will likely be a head-scratcher for some Miura traditionalists as, apart from the branding and chief designer (founder Katsuhiro Miura), the rest of the story lacks many of the expected Miura elements.
For starters, the IC-601 is cast, not forged. It's not that casting is a less desirable manufacturing process, but precision casting hasn't ever been Miura's forte nor does it fit with Miura's self-proclaimed status as makers of "The World's Finest Forged Golf Clubs." It's unfair, but cast irons don't typically garner the same level of attention as forged clubs – and when an OEM renowned for its forging prowess departs from this recipe, it's noteworthy.
The 455 Carpenter Steel face and SUS304 stainless steel body surround a vacant inner cavity structure allowing for a wider sole which pushes discretionary weight low and rear in the clubhead. Carpenter steel is noted for its properties of high strength, low weight, and native durability. As such, it allows the face more room to flex, which increases ball speeds, enlarges the sweet spot and boosts MOI (forgiveness). Miura states, the result is an iron which "is higher, longer, and more forgiving than any other in the Miura lineup.”
The other notable departure from the Miura way with the IC-601 is where it's manufactured – Taiwan. In so far as JDM junkies associate Japan with quality craftsmanship, advanced forgings and adherence to ridiculously tight spec tolerances, this is well, something different – though we've seen a portion of this movie before as Miura exported a portion of the Genesis PP-9005 club manufacturing to Taiwan as well.
Effectively, Miura set up a de facto satellite facility in Taiwan which is capable of the advanced precision casting processes required for the IC-601. There, Miura-san trained laborers on proper grinding techniques and frequently visited to ensure, regardless of geographic location, quality standards of all products bearing the Miura name remained present. Post production, all irons go through Miura's home facility in Himeji, Japan to pass rigorous final inspection before worldwide distribution.
North America is still the largest golf market in the world (dollars spent/year), and the IC-601 is a calculated move by Miura to bring its product to the masses. The cast design allows for technological elements which serve the needs of a large cross-section of golfers, a fact not lost on OEMs with similar product offerings (Ping G700, TaylorMade M4, Callaway Rogue). It's an intelligent and necessary step if Miura believes it can be the first historically Japanese OEM to find a sustainable measure of success in a market dominated by Callaway and TaylorMade – though it won't be without its critics.
Is this a step in the right direction or is a cast distance iron too much of a departure from Miura's core identity?
For more information, visit MiuraGolf.com.