HONMA TR20 (460cc) – Official MGS Forum Review by JudgeSmails
First off, A HUGE thank you to MGS and Honma for letting me test out and review this driver for the forums. My real name is Scott, but most of you know me as JudgeSmails. I was assisted in this review by my good golfin’ buddy and fellow MGS’er, Josmi15. 99% of the golf we play is together, so he was along for the ride helping me take pics/videos, etc…
Here’s a little Q & A of me as a golfer, as it would relate to driver in hand
What kind of golfer are you? I’m out here to have fun, but I’m pretty serious about the game, about improving and getting better.
Handicap? Fluctuating between 8 and 9, I only keep to track how I’m improving
Swing tempo? Driver swing speed? Mid 90’s SwingSpeed, I think I have kind of a quick tempo, take it back and try to accelerate through the ball (you will see several videos later)
Typical ball flight? Typical miss? Hard to answer because I’m not super consistent, but I hit a lot of ‘line drives’ with driver (which can be good), I have always had a slice as my typical miss, but this year have been snap hooking the occasional ball, always good to have a 2 way miss
Strengths/Weaknesses of your game? Iron play has always been my strength, get me within 150yds and I’m pretty decent. Putting has sucked last couple years, and consistency off the tee has held me back. I can hit some great tee shots and some really bad ones to go with it.
Current gamer and how did you choose it? Were you fit? Current Gamer is Callaway GBB Epic, with a Fujikura Pro Shaft. I was fit for the shaft (not the driver head because I already had it), the fitting made a big difference in my driving, both in distance and consistency. It has been a great gamer and will be tough to beat out of the bag
What is your #1 priority with driver in hand? I’ll call it Playable Distance...Hitting fairways isn’t a huge priority, I keep some basic stats and that one doesn’t equate to better scores for me. What does, is hitting the ball a long ways and not being in trouble...in other words, I’ll take 260 that ends up just into the rough and playable, over 240 in the fairway...but that’s just me
Do you like taking chances with aggressive lines? I probably take too many, yes I like to go for it
How often can you reach par 5’s in 2? Used to be never, now that I’ve gotten longer, I do occasionally...I don’t actually get on many in 2, but usually at least once a round, I’m next to the green in 2 I would say.
What’s your typical club into par 4s? Tough to answer, par 4’s vary in distance so much….always hoping to have an 8 iron or less I guess is my best answer.
Going into this test, I will admit to only knowing 3 things about Honma
That’s it! I mean, I had heard the name, but never swung a club or even seen one in person. Also, I didn’t know what the little animal thing was on their logo (it’s a mole, I googled it). I can’t say as I had any preconceived notions about what the performance of this club was going to be, but drivers are fun to test so I was very excited to get chosen.
First step in this process was that we did an over-the-phone fitting with a Honma rep. I got a call from Preston and we spent about 30 minutes on the phone, going over what I’m currently playing, what’s my miss, my ball flight, swing speed, all that good stuff. He was super nice and very knowledgeable, and we even just talked golf for a bit. They will also be doing all the hosel adjustments specifically for my fitting ahead of time, so that when I get it, it’s ready to go out of the box, I thought this was a nice little extra touch. Now, that doesn’t mean I can’t adjust it later of course, but at least I don’t have to make that the first thing I have to worry about.
My Fitting: Honma TR20 - 460cc model - 10.5* - Vizard FD-7S Shaft
Vizard is Honma’s own, in-house, premium shaft brand. These don’t appear to be like the ‘stock’ offerings of other manufacturers, they are hand-made in Japan, the rep and I talked extensively about these shafts and the process of making them. Maybe a draw back to some people though, this is the ONLY brand of shaft available to order this driver with. That may be a turn off for some. I will not go into the ‘marketing’ type material here, if you want to read up on the Tech stuff, check this link out: https://us.honmagolf.com/collections/tr20/products/copy-of-t-world-tr20-460-driver
Was very excited to come home to the big HONMA box on my doorstep, one fine sunny day. I did like the touch of taking it out of the box and seeing my name and MyGolfSpy written on it, feeling like it was custom made for me (and it was).
I’ve had my Callaway GBB Epic in the bag since 2017 (when I coincidentally tested it for MGS). I’m very comfortable with it and I’m pretty damn happy with it. I’ve actually tried a couple other newer drivers out, including the Epic Flash, and none of them could beat the original Epic. The Honma TR20 will have it’s work cut out for it, if it wants a permanent spot in my bag. If it’s not Longer and/or More accurate, there’s no reason to replace my gamer.
Looks (9 out of 10 points)
I’d call this driver a CLASSIC look. It has the Silver face, which I can’t think of any manufacturer that still has that (maybe there is, just can’t think of them), all have gone to the black faces in the last few years. The shape is more elongated than my Epic, I’m guessing to push weight further away from the face (what the hell do i know though, i just swing ‘em). Top is shiny black, and doesn’t have the visible carbon fiber like many new drivers show. One noticeable omission is an alignment marking. Most drivers, and can’t remember the last one I had that didn’t, have some sort of indicator of where the middle of the face is from address. I wondered if this would throw me off at setup since I was so used to having something there, but it didn’t seem to affect me too much. I will say I would prefer to have something small there. The bottom has a good simple, clean look, no super fancy graphics. You see some of the carbon fiber here and of course the weights, a little graphic w/ the model # and nothing else. Simple and clean. The shaft I received is a bright red and looks really good. It’s the loudest color i’ve had on a shaft and I wondered if it would be distracting at address, but it was not. I will go ahead and include the headcover here, while that’s not something we would spend much time on in a review, I will note that it seems to be made of very high quality material, especially compared to most manufacturers stock offerings.
Sound & Feel (10 out of 10 points)
FEEL: Feels good, damn good. Seriously, has a very nice feel, both just holding it in the hands and when making contact. Definitely forgiving, on off-center and bad strikes, nothing rattling your bones. I can tell I mishit the ball, but just barely. I would say the head is slightly lighter than my epic, but that could be the shaft making it feel that way.
SOUND: It’s more of a THWACK than a high pitched TING….does that make sense? Best thing I can do is share this video with you, we got the camera as close as we safely could, to capture the sound...enjoy!
I’ll give it all 10 points here, I’m not sure where I would deduct anything and these are completely subjective.
I like the feel and I like the sound, you may not and that’s perfectly fine.
Basic Characteristics (20 out of 20 points)
First Range Session: First time swinging this driver was at the range. I wanted to get some reps in with and see what we’re dealing with, before starting to get numbers from a launch monitor session. Here is the result from the very first swing…
Not too shabby huh? Pretty damn close to a perfect strike and the ball took off like a rocket. Having my first swing be that close to the sweet spot, gave me confidence that the fitting/setup was done properly and would be a good fit for my swing. The rest of the range session brought similar results. I was hitting good drive after good drive, and found it to be very forgiving on my mishits. I hit a few near the toe and it seemed like the distance loss was minimal, they just pushed to the right a bit. I felt like my trajectory was up as well, which is something we wanted to do during my fitting, get the ball up a bit. It was working, the ball was really soaring.
I let Josmi15 take a few pokes with it as well, he had similar results. He banged some really nice drives out there with it, even though it wasn’t fit for him.
Launch Monitor Test: Now on to some launch monitor data and a little competition between Honma and my trusty Epic. Let’s see who’s numbers are best…
This test was done on an indoor Trackman. Using Titleist ProV1x Practice balls. Each driver will get 15 swings, alternating every 3 swings and taking a few breaks, so that fatigue won’t be a factor. Then we will compare the results.
Conveniently, I had 1 REALLY BAD mishit with each driver, so I threw out the worst one with each (which were almost identical), since those 2 swings were in no way the fault of the driver (operator error). So the results are based on 14 solid strikes with each driver. I will say I feel like I was hitting the ball really well in there, so I feel these results should be pretty accurate.
As you can see, the HONMA TR20 wins in every category. Carry Yards is a HUGE difference, due to getting the higher launch, almost 20 yards more carry. At the same time, not launching too high where I’m not getting rollout, the total yards over Epic are just under 11. The 2.5* Launch angle difference, both from a 10.5* head. My guess is the difference being a combination of the shaft and hosel adjustments. Perhaps I could tweak my Epic to get it launching a little higher. Something else that really jumps at me, is BALL SPEED. I’m no physics expert, but the Club Speed was only 0.6mph higher in the Honma, but the Ball Speed comes out 4 mph higher. Is this due to a hotter face? Maybe someone out there knows, whatever it is...I LIKE IT!
The Dispersion, measured in Yards Offline is fairly close, although Honma still gets the nod in that category as well. I did take the data and do my own numbers on this, when Trackman averages this stat itself, It factors in whether it was Left or Right...the huge flaw in that for doing an average is, If I hit one 50 yards to the right, and the next one 50 yards to the left….my AVERAGE will be a perfectly straight drive. So I did the average offline, independent of what direction it was. You can See in the dispersion graph, what side was favored.
We just so happened to video the best drive of the day on the Trackman, enjoy this ROCKET, courtesy of Honma
I give it 20/20 points….I’m not sure where I would deduct any points here. It was great on the range from the first ball it touched and it beat my Epic in every category on the Trackman.
On-Course / LM Performance (28 out of 30 points)
Decided to play my next round with the Honma driver and see if it translates to the course. First drive on the first tee was a bomb right down the middle. I didn’t hit a ton of fairways after that (4/14 on the day), BUT, as I mentioned earlier in the review, I don’t really concern myself too much if the ball ends up in the short grass. If I’m hitting the ball well and they are in play with open looks at the green, that’s all I want. And I was getting that with this driver, most of those missed fairways were balls that trickled off or that were no more than 10-15 yards offline. I was very happy with how it performed on Round #1. The Honma driver really felt like Point and Shoot...and that’s exactly what I want. The strength of my game is my iron play, the drivers job is to get me out there in play with the shortest iron I can to the green.
2nd and 3rd Full rounds with it were much more of the same, although I did hit a few way offline, but who the hell doesn’t on here, I’m no pro. When I struck the ball well, it goes for miles, my off-center strikes (mostly off the toe) were not penalized nearly as much as I probably deserved (thank you forgiveness). A slight push to the right and a little loss of distance was generally the penalty for my toe strikes.
Also, on the 3rd round with this driver, Josmi15 and I were playing a course we play a lot. On the very difficult, 3 shot par 5 17th hole, I hit a tee shot further down the fairway than any of us had ever been. I’ve played that hole probably 50 times, I’ve never been hitting my 2nd shot from that spot. The hole is kind of a forced 3 shot par 5, the drive is pretty wide open, but then there’s a creek and landing area for your 2nd, and a pond in front of the green. I’ve never even considered going for this one in 2….that day...I did think it over, but was still a little too far out. I did the best to show it on this satellite image.
Miscellaneous (7 out of 10 points)
I’ll touch on 3 things for this category
Customer Service: If the rep i worked with, Preston, is any indication of their customer service….they are doing a FANTASTIC job. He was knowledgeable and personable. He also responded to emails very quickly. 4/4 points
Adjustability: I’m gonna knock a few points here, it’s a little confusing. The booklet that comes with the adjustment tool, is a little hard to understand. Appears to be written by someone who’s first language is not english, which I understand, they are a Japanese company, but really should be proofread better. I was honestly afraid to adjust because I didn’t understand it very well, and the tool/hosel markings are not at all what I’m used to. I did actually touch base with Preston on this issue, and it is something they are going to work on (again, awesome customer service). 2 / 4 points
(and as it turns out, it actually isn’t hard to adjust, the instructions are just confusing)
Price: Ok, here ya go….this driver is Expensive. Looking at their website, this driver as configured would be $750. That is significantly more than most new drivers, 50% more in most cases. Does it feel like it should cost that much more? Is it worth the price for the gains off the tee? That’s tough to answer, and probably something you’ll need to decide for yourself. To be completely honest, if it wasn’t given to me for this test, I probably never would have given it a shot in a golf shop, just given the price. 1 / 2 points
Play it or Trade it? (20 out of 20 points)
PLAY IT!! It stays in the bag. The Honma TR20 beat out my beloved Callaway EPIC fair and square. I can’t argue with the results from the Trackman and the course.
I think if you are looking for a new driver, and the price tag doesn’t scare you off, you owe it to yourself to give this driver a chance. Honma has something here, but they need to get it into golfers’ hands. I don’t know any shops around here that carry their products, so that is definitely a challenge for them. But the product is solid and the results undeniable (for me at least). My improvement list for them is very short, I personally wouldn’t mind a small indicator on the crown and make a new booklet to go with the adjustment tool. It’s a pleasure to swing and watch that ball get small.
Final Score: (94 out of 100 points)