Offering impeccable attention to detail and the utmost in quality, Miura Golf’s hand-forged clubs are setting a new standard for golfers around the world.
Nothing in golf quite matches the euphoria of hitting a forged iron on the sweet spot. The buttery impact feels so satisfyingly pure that you instantly know you just milked every ounce of distance and accuracy out of that shot. For one sliver of a moment, you are invincible.
Giving golfers that utopian sensation as often as possible is the goal of Katsuhiro Miura, the 72-year-old owner and namesake of club manufacturer Miura Golf. Amid the sea of mass-produced golf clubs, Miura Golf still makes its highly regarded irons predominantly by hand. It’s a deliberate, time-consuming, painstaking process. But the end products are uniquely luxurious, top-performing forged irons.
The company’s modest, meticulously clean factory in Amaji, Japan — along the bank of the Ichikawa River — doesn’t even house a conveyor belt. Aside from having machines hammer, flatten and cut the raw metal into shape at the factory (as well as the nearby forge facility), all Miura irons are finished by human hands, one at a time.
“The main hand processes are the finishing of the leading and trailing edges of each iron, the overall grinding to final shape and weight, and the polishing before and after chroming and other finishing,” says Adam Barr, the 53-year-old Orlando, Florida-based president of the company since November 2010. “Particular models might also need special features ground in. Our K-Grind wedges, for instance, have their renowned knuckles ground in by hand, very often by Mr. Miura himself.”
The key to the whole process, according to Barr, is forging the heel-to-toe portion of the clubhead by itself, first. “Then, in a separate process we call spin-forging, the hosel is spun onto the heel very fast. The friction makes a weld. … We then grind the club into shape, and it operates as if it were never anything but one unified piece. The resulting feel is otherworldly — you can see it on the faces of people who hit the irons for the first time."
Forged from solid-steel billets, Miura’s iron clubheads are pounded into shape with a hammer and then hand-ground — often by Mr. Miura
Courtesy Miura Golf
“Our K-Grind wedges, for instance, have their renowned knuckles ground in by hand, very often by Mr. Miura himself.”
By comparison, other manufacturers tend to forge the entire L-shaped head-hosel combination, Barr says, which risks yanking the grain upward into the hosel, leading to voids or bubbles inside the clubhead that create a “clank” feel at impact. Miura’s methodology ensures a small, tight, uniform grain — and a heavenly feel.
The fact that there are hands on the clubheads at almost every stage is not just a testament to a small-company, small-batch way of doing things but also an opportunity to test the quality at nearly every moment by touch. Most large brands adhere to strict manufacturing tolerances in order to ensure a certain level of quality. But in a mass production, clubs can be susceptible to hot spots along the clubface. Miura conforms to a tighter standard than the industry, in general. “Our clubhead weight deviation is plus-minus a half gram,” Barr says. “That’s 1/56 of an ounce. Other companies accept as much as 5 grams either way, I’m told.”
“Yes, our clubs are pricey … . What we deliver is a golf club with a long life ahead of it, made largely by the hands of real people.”
Another reason Miura irons resonate with golfers is because of the high-quality steel from which they’re made. Mr. Miura grew up in the steel region of central Japan — where samurai swords have been crafted for 600-plus years. He knows his suppliers well, and those personal relationships mean the company acquires clean steel with a carbon content of less than 4 percent; this makes for a clubhead that’s malleable enough for the bending demands of the club-fitting process but stout enough to hold its shape through play.
Golfers generally deem that forged irons are solely for highly skilled players. But Miura bucks that myth by making its products without an ability bar. “There is a Miura-forged model for every skill level,” Barr vows. Its latest iron, for example, is the forged Series 1957 Limited Edition Cavity Back with a progressively sized weight mass in the cavity that enhances perimeter weighting and solidity, a perfect game-improvement combination for mid-handicaps
Iron Will: According to Japanese media, Katsuhiro Miura has the “hands of God” when crafting golf clubs.
Courtesy Miura Golf
But because of its high quality, the 1957 Limited Edition Cavity Back starts at $275 per club. By comparison, a top-line Callaway or TaylorMade iron sells at roughly $100 apiece. Thus, Miura’s audience is quite limited — even more so in America than in Japan, where expensive clubs are revered by golfers as a social-class sign. “Yes, our clubs are pricey — we try not to be apologetic or arrogant about that,” Barr says. “What we deliver is a golf club with a long life ahead of it, made largely by the hands of real people.”
No doubt, it’s a throwback concept in today’s world of high technology and fast-paced production. And a far cry from the calendar-driven, shareholder-pleasing, rapid-fire product releases of most competitors in the golf market. But Barr stresses that a certain group of golfers still wants golf equipment that’s been made with such care. “The idea that you can have that with a golf club is viscerally appealing.”