The Honma TW-W21 wedge is the Japanese manufacturer’s follow-up to its award-winning TW-W4 wedge.
And, as expected, it appears Honma kept a good bit of what worked in the TW-W4 as a foundation for the TW-W21.
The TW-W4 claimed status as the Most Wanted Wedge in 2019. Reviewing the data, what’s clear is that the TW-W4 offered solid performance in every facet of the test. Perhaps more importantly, it didn’t demonstrate any glaring weaknesses even when considering subjective feedback such as looks and feel.
With the Honma TW-W21, the design philosophy is simple. Keep what works and find opportunities to create marginally better performance. It’s fool’s logic to deviate from a useful blueprint.
Keep It Around
As such, let’s start with what stayed the same.
At first glance, the TW-W21 doesn’t look much different from the outgoing TW-W4. That’s because it isn’t. Honma retained the same basic shaping, reverse taper topline and loft/bounce/grind options.
Honma utilizes a reverse taper design in the 56-, 58- and 60-degree wedges. What this means is that the topline increases in width from heel to toe. The chief benefit is that, by reallocating weight high/toe, it raises the center of gravity. A higher CG location leads to better performance on shots struck high on the face while producing a lower trajectory with more spin on standard shots, according to Honma.
You won’t see the same reverse taper on the 48- to 54-degree wedges. Honma suggests the standard flat blade design creates the lower/mid CG that’s best for full swings. Basically, the thinking is that on clubs where the golfer is more inclined to hit full shots (pitching wedge and gap wedge). it’s best to mirror the CG location and flange design of traditional irons. However, for more specialized wedges (sand wedge and lob wedge), golfers will be inclined to hit a variety of shots, particularly half and three-quarter shots as well as chips and pitches around the green.
Some manufactures believe the forgiveness of a wedge is tied directly to how well the bounce/grind match the golfer’s swing. The larger element here is that buying a specialized wedge without a proper fitting is no better than plunking down $5 on some lottery scratch tickets. You might win every so often but the odds aren’t in your favor.
The 48- to 54-degree Honma TW-W21 wedges with the flat blade and lower/mid CG location also feature the I-Sole grind. The I-Sole is standard width with some trailing-edge relief. This grind is best for full shots with a square face.
On the 56- to 60-degree Honma TW-W21 wedges, golfers have two sole grind options. The C-Sole is the lower bounce of the two. It has aggressive heel/toe and trailing-edge relief. Golfers with a shallow angle of attack and/or who prefer to manipulate the face quite a bit are likely to lean towards the C-Sole grind.
The higher-bounce S-Sole exhibits a wider sole with four-way relief. In general, wedges with wider soles/more bounce perform better out of dense rough and fluffy lies. Less bounce tends to be more advantageous on firm lies and compact sand.
You won’t find as many choices for bounce/loft configurations with Honma as compared to a brand like Vokey. That said, for the majority of golfers, an offering of one distance high-bounce and one low-bounce grind is sufficient.
The Honma TW-W21 wedges employ the same basic groove pattern and microgrooves as the TW-W4 wedges. Keep in mind the primary purpose of grooves is to eliminate debris to generate cleaner face-ball contact.
But not all grooves are the same, just like tires feature different tread patterns. In testing, we tend to see the largest discrepancy in spin numbers when introducing moisture. The purpose is to assess performance in simulated wet environments (i.e., dew, wet rough, etc.).
The industry leader (PING) retained approximately 88 percent of its dry condition spin. The Honma TW-W4 retained 72 percent. This placed it sixth out of the 20 models tested.
As a side note, companies like PING and Mizuno have introduced face technologies designed to increase spin retention in wet conditions. PING utilizes a Hydropearl finish while Mizuno employs Hydroflow Microgrooves. Whether other companies go down a similar road remains to be seen. In the case of Honma, my hunch is that the combination of standard and microgrooves created this added, though possibly unintentional, benefit.
Honma TW-W21 New Features
What’s new, frankly, isn’t much. But again, Honma isn’t in the business of solving problems that don’t exist. The TW-21 wedge has two notable modifications. One is primarily cosmetic whereas the other is material. This time around, Honma is going with a single stock finish it labels “satin half mirror.” I haven’t seen the wedge in hand yet so I’ll reserve judgment. But, at first glance, it’s possibly a shade brighter than other satin finishes but quite a bit duller than chrome.
The other change is more obvious. Honma replaced a steel cavity insert with an aluminum one. The gold-colored insert is applied after the rest of the body is cast from 8620 mild steel. Aluminum is lighter than steel. Thus, it gave Honma a few more grams to reallocate to further optimize CG location throughout all lofts.
In 2019, the TW-W4 was a bit of a surprise winner in Most Wanted testing. Because brands like Vokey, Cleveland and Callaway dominate the retail world and Tour usage statistics, consumers might reasonably conclude that the biggest brands are also the best. However, that’s not always the case. Particularly in the case of wedges, where one could argue that manufacturers haven’t pushed the technological envelope quite as hard as with drivers and irons, it’s perhaps a bit easier for smaller companies (with MUCH smaller R&D budgets) to compete.
This is also an intriguing release for another reason. The North American portion of the design team that worked on the TW-W21 wedge is no longer with Honma. And if we consider the entire TR-20/TR-21 family of equipment, Honma found success because it was able to meld Japanese aesthetics with performance characteristics typically demanded by North American consumers. So that leaves us with a pretty significant question: “Where does Honma go from here?”
In the last design cycle, Honma was clear in its desire to produce equipment for better players. The TW-W21 wedge is really the last piece of equipment borne out of that initiative. So does this wedge mark the end of the previous generation or the beginning of the next one?
As always, tell us what you think.