Driven to capture the imagination of the average golfer, many manufacturers have taken the approach of introducing new club models at a very rapid pace. To some degree this has created problems for both retailers and consumers whose selling and buying cycle might not quite match what the manufacturer hopes them to be.
Then along comes Miura Golf. Long known for their purist approach to the creation of forged irons and wedges, it has taken some time for the company to even consider moving into the wood and utility market. And this is not a bad thing. That painstaking and methodical approach may not produce instant success, but it adheres to the principles of the company and their founder, Katsuhiro Miura. Quality comes first and sales, well, they follow as players discover clubs that fit and perfom as they're supposed to.
For more than 40 years Miura has crafted clubs, all created in a manner that is totally in contrast with the mass manufacturing process that many companies employ.
Today, the company is a commercial success, driven by their Vancouver, British Columbia-based operation (incorporated in 1994) that has enlightened North American golfers – the largest golf market in the world – to the quality that Miura can provide. Than now includes woods and utility clubs.
'Our company wants to, and will, maintain our focus on what Mr. Miura does best and that is irons,' said Bill Holowaty,' Miura's Vice President of General Operations. 'The question continually came up, 'Do you, will you, offer woods?' I think it really came about with an epiphany by people hitting Miura irons for the first time and knowing that there was something different there, then wanting that for the rest of their bag.'
Holowaty says the positive way people have responded to the new products is no surprise. 'Those who are familiar with Mr. Miura and the way he runs his business – putting performance first over everything else – they seem to have an inherent confidence in anything that the Miura name is on. They know it will be something special.'
The result is products that in some way go against the grain of the current market, especially in terms of driver size and the design of utility clubs. 'We've been able to build up the brand so that when people see the Miura name they know they might see something different, something exceptional,' said Holowaty. 'So when it came to manufacturing utility clubs, fairway woods and drivers, Mr. Miura was real leery for a long time.'
Miura's main concern was that he would not be in complete control of the manufacturing process from start to finish. The reality of the current industry is that the clubheads for these products could not be fully produced in the Miura factories, unlike all of the other Miura irons and wedges. As a result, it took some time to pin down exactly how the process would play out. 'He wanted to make sure he was getting something that he would be willing to put his name on,' explains Holowaty.
Luckily, manufacturers familiar with Mr. Miura's reputation (he's known for having 'The Hands of God') were willing to work with him to ensure the utmost quality in his products. The clubs had to be the best they could make, created to the highest standards.
Of course, that didn't mean that Mr. Miura took in the outside work readily. Holowaty says early on Miura would meticulously check the products, searching for any sign of imperfection. 'The paint, the weights, it all had to be to a standard he was happy with, and that took some time,' Holowaty said. 'The term 'tour-quality' is thrown about pretty loosely, but these were tour quality, not designed to be mass produced or replaced. Like all Miura products, they needed to have a shelf life attached to them.'
Part of that shelf-life formula was coming up with the right products, not just the flavor of the day.
'These were all stepping stones to getting to where we are today,' Holowaty said. 'What you buy today is what you would've gotten six months ago, and it's what you will get six months from now. There is not an urgency to launch products as opposed to meld them into our line, because they're going to be there going forward.'
In the driver category, that meant a 390cc driver (the Precious Edition) in a market crowded by 460cc clubheads.
'There wasn't going to be a driver introduced unless it fit into the philosophy of Mr. Miura in regards to performance,' Holowaty said. 'That was optimum in allowing the club to get back to square at impact.'
Holowaty says that often he will let others try out his driver. He said that pretty soon they forget about how big a driver is 'supposed' to be, and recognize that they like it for the feel, sound and performance.
Miura's most recent introduction, the Precious Utility Club, is designed to produce a high trajectory with a slight draw bias.
'He [Mr. Miura] wanted to have something that would blend in with Miura irons, especially for the player who plans to take the 3- and 4-iron out and replace them with a utility club,' said Holowaty. 'He wanted to provide them with clubs that would confirm with a consistency of trajectory and yardage that would fall in with the set.'
Holowaty says Mr. Miura heard concerns from golfers that the light shaft and headweight of some utility clubs was of concern. Some golfers felt this combination resulted in poor performance (in distance control and ball flight) when the golfer was under pressure, such as what they feel in playing tournament golf.In response, Miura wanted to provide a club that could be relied on, resulting in the current design.
'Mr. Miura recognizes it may not be a club design that is for everyone, but for the player looking for the precison of an iron with the ease of a hybrid, this will fit nicely,' Holowaty said. 'We're not trying to re-invent the hybrid market, it's simply a niche product that fits with a sound philosophy centred on performance and quality. That just fits with who we are.'
Click here to read what members at GolfWRX are saying about the new Miura woods and utility clubs.