Honma TR21X Key Takeaways
- The Honma TR21X is a new offering in the player’s distance category
- It replaces the Honma T/World TW-X, MyGolfSpy’s Most Wanted Player’s Distance Iron of 2019.
- The TR21X is the most forgiving iron in the TR line.
Honma could use a fresh start and it is hoping the TR21X can deliver just that.
Like many of us, Honma has endured a bumpy 2020. The brand mutually parted ways with Justin Rose, leading to the predictable, though perhaps uninformed, speculation about the quality of the product. It launched its TR20 line only to see momentum and awareness lost to COVID and, somewhat quietly, CEO John Kawaja left the company.
Suffice it to say things didn’t go as planned but with the equipment season turning toward 2021, the launch of the TR21 lineup creates an opportunity for Honma to reinvigorate its brand and regain its footing as the JDM (Japanese Domestic Market) brand most likely to succeed in North America.
Honma TR21X Iron
The TR21X represents Honma’s best effort to date at tackling the growing player’s distance category. They’re not the only ones, of course. Player’s distance is the most popular sandbox on the playground but increasing demarcation within the category may create opportunity. Honma is optimistic it can leverage the divide to capture some attention.
Recent offerings like TaylorMade’s P770 and Titleist’s T100S have sought to put the player back into player’s distance. The TR21X tackles the category from the opposite end. It unapologetically emphasizes the distance element as a club that, while positioned as player’s distance, comfortably straddles the line between that and game improvement.
When you work to straddle multiple performance categories, it’s rare to exist equally in both spheres.
If you’re looking for a big, forgiving distance iron with just enough of a player-preferred look so you can convince yourself that it kinda, sorta, still looks like a blade, the TR21X fits the bill.
A Slightly Different Footprint
Given what I’ve said so far, it shouldn’t surprise you to learn that the TR21X is the biggest iron in Honma’s TR lineup. Honma saves the really big stuff for its game improvement/super game improvement XP lineup. Within the TR family, TR21X is closest in size to the TR20P. Notable differences are TR21X’s hollow-body construction and 1.4-millimeter longer blade.
Visually, the most notable thing is the TR21X’s unusual profile. The transition in the back cavity from the sole to the topline is more gradual than typical. The result is a thick, almost square, back design with plenty of room for Honma to load the iron with tungsten and foam.
Loaded with Tungsten
I have no expectation that you’ll find this brief discussion of tungsten particularly exhilarating but it’s my job to let you know that Honma is using 42 grams in the long irons, 50 grams in the mid irons and 73 grams in the TR21x short irons. While I wouldn’t describe it as massive, it’s still a good amount.
With respect to TR21X performance, the story isn’t the tungsten itself. It’s as much about where Honma has put it. You know the drill. Tungsten almost always goes low in the head. The ripple here is that TR21X’s deep cavity allows Honma to not only go low but to pull the tungsten away from the face and deep into the clubhead where it increases dynamic loft.
So, our enthralling tungsten story isn’t just about the material. It’s about the amount combined with its position within the head. That provides a fair bit of the reason why the TR21X launches half a degree higher and produces a steeper, softer landing angle (1.2 degrees) than TR20P despite lofts that are one degree stronger across the board.
High launch, low spin and plenty of distance. There’s your not entirely unfamiliar headline.
L-FACE, Foam-Filled Construction
The speed portion of our story comes by way of those stronger lofts combined with a thin (2.2-mm) L-Face design. While Honma has made some tweaks here and there, it’s the same basic structure employed by Titleist in its T-series irons. Think of the L-Face as a lip extending below the leading edge and connecting to the head at that point. Perhaps the visual of a hinge suffices.
At +/-2.2 mm, Honma’s isn’t the thinnest face in golf but the company emphasizes that its goal was never to go as thin as possible. In fact, Honma says that going sub-2.0 mm can actually reduce face-compliance and decrease ball speed. Honma’s focus isn’t on trying to win an on-paper spec battle to claim an almost arbitrary point of superiority. It’s about bringing all the design elements together in a way that achieves both performance and aesthetic goals.
Part of the fun with hollow-cavity irons is seeing what manufacturers do (or don’t) use to fill that space. Goo, foam, paste, elastomers, jelly, deodorant. You get the idea. And I’m joking about the jelly. I think.
Honma (like PXG and TaylorMade) inject a proprietary foam that doesn’t impinge on face-flex and helps support a more “solid” sound and feel. Conversely, PING elected to leave the cavity empty on its i500 iron. It’s a bit of a gray area in that while sound/feel are largely subjective, finding golfers who prefer a firmer, possibly vacant, sensation at impact are few and far between.
I don’t typically take this bait because, let’s be real, there are only so many “clean, classic and aesthetically simple” iron designs to go around. Couple that with the reality that designers rarely stick with a single company for an entire career and that’s a good chunk of the story. The rest is best filed under “Who really cares?” A bit harsh? Possibly.
But this one feels a little different.
It’s impossible to ignore several salient pieces of information. First, a little over a month ago, TaylorMade released its P7MB, P7MC and P770 irons. Minus a badge here and some milling marks there, it’s ignorant to think that one didn’t have a lot to do with the other. Then there’s Justin Rose, the recently departed former face of the brand. I’m sure pretty much everyone inside Honma’s corporate walls would just as soon give him the Voldermort treatment but the timing just feels a little bit, shall we say, coincidental.
HONMA TR21X MIX AND MATCH
As has become the trend, Honma expects golfers to take the TR21x irons and mix and match with the rest of the TR20 line as appropriate. At the recreational level, better players might opt for a full set of TR21x or pair it with the TR20P or TR20V irons. Competitive amateurs and professionals will most likely use the TR21x as a long-iron replacement or as a part-time occupant of the 5-wood/hybrid slot in the bag.
All of TR21X’s parts come together to make the most playable Honma TR iron to date. Typically, the TR line tops out around the 12-handicap mark but with one foot in the game-improvement space, there’s no reason why TR21X can’t stretch the line a bit further, particularly when properly fitted.
Honma TR21X Specs, Pricing, and Availability
The stock shaft is Honma’s proprietary Vizard graphite in 65 and 86 grams. The company believes it is as good – if not better – than any graphite offering on the market. For players looking for more weight, the steel option is Nippon’s N.S. PRO 950GH.
Like almost everyone, Honma offers a catalog full of alternatives if neither stock option is right for you.
The stock grip is Golf Pride’s Tour Velvet +2.
The retail price for the TR21X iron is $212 each in graphite and $188 each in steel. Retail availability begins Nov. 1.
For more information, visit Honmagolf.com.