As predicted this week, Tom Watson, the last American team captain to win on foreign soil, is officially the captain of the 2014 USA Ryder Cup team.
“I’ve been waiting 20 years to get the call. This time we need 14.5 points.” ~Tom Watson
Tom Watson – Photo © by Tony Korologos
Today is 12-12-12. Sort of funny. That won’t happen again in our lifetimes.
Rumor has it that Rory McIlory has purchased a $10.9 million new home down the street from Tiger Woods. Having won over $14 million in tournament money alone in 2012, my guess is he paid cash.
Strong rumors have it that McIlory will be switching to Nike on January 1st, for a contract worth somewhere around $200-250 million over the next 10 years.
Rumors are flying that Tom Watson will be named the next Ryder Cup captain for the USA team. Watson played on four Ryder Cup teams: 1977, 1981, 1983, 1989. He also captained the victorious 1993 team.
Elin Nordgren Flag
Many tweets and news posts about Tiger Woods’s ex wife Elin Nordegren and her new Florida mansion, with Swedish flag flying high above. Is this news?
I’m happy to present an interview with Miura Golf’s President Adam Barr. You may remember Adam from his years as a broadcaster with Golf Channel. In this interview we discuss Miura and specifically the Miura New Wedge Series which I just reviewed in the previous golf blog post. I do my interviews in nine hole segments; nine questions. Today’s course of choice is the New Course at St. Andrews, designed by Old Tom Morris and opened in 1895. That’s why the holes are so short…
Hole #1 – Par-4 – 336 Yards
TK: Adam, thanks for taking the time to do nine with Hooked On Golf Blog patrons today about Miura and the New Wedge Series. We will start with some background. Tell us about Miura for those who are not familiar with the company.
AB: 336? Can I hit 3-wood? Actually, I want to hit as much club as possible here. Miura is a family company in Japan. Founder Katsuhiro Miura, an expert in club forging and grinding for more than five decades, and his two sons forge the world’s finest irons, wedges and putters at our company’s one factory and forge in Himeji in central Japan. We also have a full line of drivers, fairway woods and hybrids designed by the Miuras and made under their supervision. Mr. Miura is to club grinding as Julia Child was to cooking or Isaac Stern was to the violin — far and away the world’s master.
Miura New Wedge Series – click for review
Hole #2 – Par-4 – 367 Yards
TK: What does Miura do differently than other golf club manufacturers that sets them apart?
AB: Instead of forging the entire golf club head, including the hosel, at one time, we forge only the heel-to-toe portion first. This prevents the grain from being stretched up into the hosel area. Forging the whole head at once would increase the chance of little bubbles and voids in the grain of the steel, and that could lead to “clanky” impact. Instead, the heel-to-toe portion — the business end of the head — is forged with perfect grain structure, and the hosel, made of the same steel and perfectly straight, is welded on by a special process called spin forging. The seam is finished off, and the club operates as if it were always one piece. You can see a demonstration of this on our YouTube channel in this video.
The resulting grain structure in the club head is more comparable to a jar of sand than, say, a jar of marbles. That’s the crucial element in the otherworldly feel of impact in a Miura club.
Hole #3 – Par-5 – 511 Yards
TK: You were a golf journalist at GOLFWEEK and then a broadcaster at Golf Channel for a while. What was the transition like going from golf media to being president of a golf company?
AB: Well, it’s no longer a deadline world. On the corporate side, there are more concurrent projects going on; you push the boulders a little further up the hill each day. It’s not as frenetic as media, for sure. But there are similarities: my primary job is to communicate, with all that entails — knowing your audience, making the message compelling, adjusting to circumstances, being responsive and following up. So overall, media was good training for the corporate world. And the fact that I can make the company videos doesn’t hurt.
Hole #4 – Par-4 – 369 Yards
TK: Being a Japanese company, what are the challenges you’ve had to face working for Miura?
AB: Naturally, there is a language barrier. I have studied some Japanese, but my abilities are very rudimentary. The key challenge is cultural. The Japanese — most Asian cultures — simply do business differently that western cultures. Patience is vital; meetings can involve long silences, but this doesn’t mean things aren’t going well. But on the whole, we have been able to bridge language and cultural divides to form a very satisfying relationship. I like being around the Miuras; I always learn something, and they’re also fun to play golf with.
Hole #5 – Par-3 – 180 Yards
TK: I had to chuckle when I found out that the name of the new wedge series was, “New Wedge Series.” What’s the deal with the name? No model numbers?
AB: Nah. We tend not to stand on ceremony about such things. We simply called it that to differentiate it from our Old Wedge Series.
Hole #6 – Par-4 – 445 Yards
TK: The New Wedge Series has some unique lofts, all odd numbers. What is the story there?
AB: Well, of course, they’re all bendable back or forward to even lofts if necessary. But we found out from our dealers that in most cases, it’s easier to gap wedge sets that have odd lofts. With many of our pitching wedges at 47 degrees standard loft, the odd lofts work out well in most cases. But if they don’t, dealers can adjust.
Mirua New Wedge Series – click for more Miura photos
Hole #7 – Par-4 – 356 Yards
TK: Having played this wedge now for a while, I can attest to the bounce of the club. I can’t quite explain it, but it seems to get under the ball perfectly, even on tight lies. On my old wedges some took too much turf and some bounced too much. Tell us about the bounce of these wedges and their design.
AB: The overall sole design is something the Miuras spend a lot of time on, both in the design stage and in prototyping — naturally, because of its importance in turf interaction. The bounce gets a lot of refining as the dies are made because we understand that golfers play over a lot of different kinds of turf, so we need to come up with a shape that will get the junk out of the road on the way to impact but not bump the leading edge up into the belly of the ball.
Hole #8 – Par-5 – 481 Yards
TK: A friend of mine keeps saying “Japanese Steel” every time I hit my wedge. Is there a difference between the materials used in these wedges or Miura’s clubs in general, versus other golf clubs? How about the shafts too?
AB: No significant differences in the steel we use….it’s more a matter of what we do with it, as mentioned above. The steel is low-carbon, meaning 4 percent or less. That keeps the steel strong enough to hit a ball with, but still malleable enough to bend for loft and lie — all without being brittle. As for the shafts — we have models we like, but that choice is really up to the authorized dealer/fitters and their customers. Our clubs are almost all custom fitted, so any number of shafts can end up in them.
Hole #9 – Par-3 – 225 Yards
TK: Thanks for spending some time with us today Adam. What can we look forward to in the future from Miura?
AB: As for product plans, I can’t divulge yet. But as for communication, much more in addition to the stepped-up pace we began two years ago when I started. We began a concerted social media campaign on the usual outlets early in 2012. We started gathering a golfer database too; golfers can sign up for news about Miura and golf equipment in general by going to www.MiuraGolf.com and using the sign-up box on the home page. And I’m available for questions and comments any time through our website: info @ miuragolf . com. I answer every one; I’m pretty sure I’m the only golf equipment industry exec who does.
Hang on, lemme count my putts….
I’ve had a beautiful new lob wedge in the bag for the last couple of months, a 59 degree wedge by Miura Golf. My short game has been quite bad this year or so, and I’m very happy to report that the addition of this wedge made a huge difference from the first swing. I’ve only scratched the surface with this wedge, pun intended. I’m looking forward to building this relationship and the quality of my short game more and more.
Mirua New Wedge Series – click for more Miura photos
Lets get to it. My review of this wedge is below. Following the review I will be posting my interview with Miura President Adam Barr, who gives us some great insight into the company and this special wedge series. That post will come up after this review is published.
If you have not heard of Miura, they’re a family-owned Japanese company founded by Katsuhiro Miura. Mr. Miura is a master-clubmaker, forging and grinding high end clubs for over 50 years. The company is located in Jimeji, central Japan.
Miura is not a company you hear about all the time like the big marketing machines in golf, but we will be hearing more and more about them in the future. I can tell you that there are many top pros who choose to use Miura irons and wedges, though they’re paid by those big name companies. Perhaps the most famous publicly endorsed player is K.J. Choi, one of my favorites.
Lets dig in, without too much of a divot, to Miura’s New Wedge Series.
Miura New Wedge Series – click to enlarge
New Wedge Series Construction
Miura uses low carbon mild steel in the construction of the New Wedge Series. This steel provides soft feel and control with great feedback (information about the shot provided to the player through feel and sound).
The wedges are precision forged and hand ground. The heel-toe portion of this wedge is forged first, rather than forging the entire head. The top half/hosel is then welded on by a process called “spin forging.” The club is chrome finished, with conservative and classy artwork. Miura President Adam Barr describes this process in the upcoming interview piece.
This club is stunningly beautiful. When I received it I didn’t even want to take it out of the plastic wrap. I surely didn’t want to take it out on the course and scratch it up! The finish is perfect. The artwork features an understated Japanese character which represents a noble effort. Standing over this club I find easy inspiration for good shotmaking.
The New Wedge’s hand forged low carbon mild steel and perfect grain structure produces a feel that is unmatched. That feel has been a great boost to my confidence and touch around the greens. My distance control on chips and pitches has improved dramatically. I also have a great feel for the proper bounce, from tight and hard lies to thick lies in long grass. The feedback from the club tells me right where the impact is so I can fine tune my positioning.
The New Wedge Series is available in odd numbered lofts from 51 to 59 as shown in the specs chart below. Naturally if a player wants a different loft, the clubs can be tweaked.
|Face Progression** (mm)
There are dozens of shaft options including selections from: Aerotech, Graphite Design, KBS Tour, muziik, Nippon, Project X True Temper and UST Mamiya. My shaft is an ACCRA SP wedge shaft. The ACCRA SP produces high spin, a penetrating ball flight, excellent stability and low torque.
On The Course
This is where all the above materials, specs and construction techniques win or lose. Do all of these elements produce great results on the course? The answer is a resounding YES. From the first shot I took on the course I knew this was the best wedge I’d ever played. I have many triumphant stories to tell about shots with this wedge. I’ll mention three which really stand out in my mind.
Miura New Wedge Series – click to enlarge
The first shot I hit with the club was on my home course, a par-5. I was 60 yards from a front right pin on a tricky green which has a very fast slope from back to front. My ball was sitting against the cut between the fairway and the rough. I put the swing I felt best on the shot. The ball flew true and on line. The green was elevated so I was not able to see where the ball finished until I walked up to the green. My opponents already gave me the birdie putt. The ball was 12 inches. At that point I thought perhaps I’d bronze the thing and put it on my wall. -1 lifetime.
The next time I used the New Wedge was on the next par-5. This time I was pin-high left in two. I had a chip of about 20 feet from some long rough on the side of the green. The chip was crisp and landed exactly on the spot I’d picked out. The ball rolled to about ONE inch from the hole. I couldn’t believe it didn’t drop. At that point I’d hit two shots with the New Wedge, both resulting in birdies.
Last Thursday on the 12th hole of the day (the 3rd hole since we started on the back nine first) I had a very tough chip. I’d come up short right of the green, with a pin short right. I had no green to work with and the green was super-slick and running away. The lie was very tight on hard ground. If I threw 25 practice balls down in that spot, I’d be lucky to get 4-5 of them within 10 feet. It was nearly impossible. My opponent was licking his chops as he has reached the green in regulation and has a good shot at a par. He figures I’ll fail to get up and down, making a bogey. So what did I do? I rocked my opponent with the perfect chip. It hit the fringe, checked a tiny bit and trickled down the slope and dropped straight into the hole. Center cut. My opponent looked like he’d just seen his ex-wife (you know, the crazy one). That chip-in birdie proved crucial to my winning not only my bets, but my two-man team bets as well.
I always post critiques in my reviews. I play devil’s advocate and try to find a place where improvement can be made. I have two complaints about this wedge and Miura in general.
My first complaint about the New Wedge is that I’ve spent my entire golfing career without it. What a shame.
My second complaint about Miura clubs is that I only have one.
Pricing on the Miura New Wedge series starts at $235.00 depending on shaft and grip options.
As important as the short game is to one’s golf game, why cut corners? Miura cuts no corners. The materials, design and craftsmanship are of the highest quality. The feel and performance of this beautiful wedge are better than any I’ve played to date.
Hooked On Golf Blog Miura images
Miura President Adam Barr Review (coming soon)
Note to self: Plan golf trip to Canada, hoser.
A few months ago I traveled up to Vancouver, BC Canada. What a beautiful place. Though I had my sticks with me, I didn’t get a chance to tee it up. I loved the beauty of the area and knew I’d be back to play some golf.
Spectacular Golf Western Canada
Now that I’ve gotten my hands on the book Spectacular Golf Western Canada: The Most Scenic and Challenging Golf Holes in British Columbia and Alberta, I’m chomping at the bit even more to golf in Canada. Spectacular Golf is a 204 page coffee-table-book which highlights more than 75 golf courses in Canada. The book shows a large image of the signature hole of each course on the left and a description of the course on the right (see image below). Retail: $50.00 but I’ve seen copies of Spectacular Golf on Amazon.com for about $36.
With Christmas coming up, this book would be a good golf gift. Very classy. I love having the book on my coffee table. I occasionally thumb through it and lust over the fantastic golf I see north of the border.