Many purists and low handicap golfers prefer the feel and shot shaping control of a forged blade iron. When it comes to forged blades there are only a handful of manufacturers out there that really get it right. Any club company can forge a blade and sell it, but very few make a club that is as much a work of art as it is golf club. Still fewer companies are able to make a club that when hit solid can evoke an emotional response. Most golfers know this feeling. It’s the feeling of a perfectly struck iron shot – one where it feels like the ball wasn’t even there and you can hear the ball spinning as it rockets towards the target with a fssssssss sound. The pursuit of this almost spiritual feeling is one of the reasons we play golf.
Katsuhiro Miura has been referred to by the Japanese media as having the hands of God for his ability to craft forged irons and wedges. Miura is based in the Himeji City area of Japan. The area has a rich history as the home of the Samurai sword. Many skilled craftsmen created the legendary weapons in Himeji, which were known for their strength and precision. The area eventually converted to other steel work and is now known for producing the finest forged irons and wedges available. I recently had a few minutes with them to ask a few questions about their operation:
ITG: How long does it take to make a set of Miura irons?
Miura: A custom order set of irons can take 6 – 8 weeks to complete
ITG: What is different about the way Miura forges an iron compared to other companies?
Miura: To Miura-san, a pure strike requires a very fine grain structure in the steel used to make the head. If you try to forge the head all in one piece, from the toe to the top of the hosel, the molecular structure of the steel gets stretched, and you sacrifice that fine grain. Compare it to a jar full of marbles: there may be many marbles, but the spaces between them are open and ineffective in giving a good, solid hit. But in a Miura iron, the structure is more like a jar of sand: no open spaces, all high-quality steel, all effective in creating a pure strike.
So Miura-san forges the head from the toe to the heel only, then uses an exclusive spin forging process that spins the hosel piece onto the head so rapidly that the friction creates a firm union. Once trimmed and finished, you can’t tell the club was ever anything but one piece. And Miura-san’s spin forging and drilling machinery is so finely tuned that the company is famous among clubfitters for the unerring straightness of its hosels.
ITG: With the addition of Mr. Adam Barr as president, do you plan to expand and grow?
Miura: We do plan to grow, but at a reasonable pace that, first and foremost, respects our existing network of dedicated dealers. They’re the ones who got us to this point. That said, we will carefully add dealers in places where we’re underserved. We will also consider off-course specialty stores, at least in a limited way, as long as we can agree with the stores that Miura clubs will be sold in an attentive, customer-oriented way. It’s not an off-the-rack golf club, and we don’t want to do anything to peel away its special nature. The same ideas apply to green-grass shops that are looking for a way to serve members without a crippling inventory requirement. We’ll work with shops that see the value in offering a club this good to their avid and knowledgeable players.
Any growth plans we decide upon will not outstrip Mr. Miura’s insistence on uncompromising production standards, nor our ability to provide flawless customer service.
The Miura Forging Process
“Follow a Miura iron from forge to factory — from a billet of carefully selected, prime steel to a finished piece of industrial art, the highest expression of what a forged golf club should be.
In this brief video, you’ll visit both the forge and factory that Katsuhiro Miura owns in Amaji, Japan, near the ancient city of Himeji. This region was for centuries the seat of samurai sword making, and it has grown into Japan’s center of fine metal work. Here, Miura-san and his sons don’t just supervise — they get their hands into the work, every day, creating the subtle shapes and lines that define the very best in forged clubs.
This video, shot in fall of 2010, shows the highlights of a typical day at Miura. But what is typical in that work day yields results that are extraordinary.” Check out the fascinating video below:
Being a purist and blade lover, I couldn’t wait to hit my demo 6 iron that was sent to me for testing. Miura has several models of forged irons, but the one I wanted to see and hit was the new 1957 series blades, which are not only gorgeous but also 15% smaller than the standard Miura tournament blade. These are the smallest irons I’ve seen since my old set of MacGregor blades I had re-chromed in college that were from 1953. A classic small blade with modern design characteristics and top notch craftsmanship is something to treasure in the age of oversize cavity back snow shovel shaped irons. Miura also claims the face of this 1957 iron is more dense than any other Miura model.
At first glance, and especially when addressing the ball you would think this iron would be very hard to hit. Personally I’ve always hit a smaller headed club better when it comes to the irons. Perhaps it’s the “fear factor” or maybe the mind has a way of focusing more when the target is smaller. Mr. Miura also feels this way. He says the smaller head makes it easier to square up at impact, since the center or gravity is located closer to the shaft of the club. This feature also makes the clubs more workable for fades and draws. The smaller clubhead also glides through the grass with greater ease than a large oversize club. Indeed, this is probably the most playable forged blade I have ever hit.
Now, I’m not trying to tell you that everyone can hit this tiny little forged blade, but I’m saying it may not be as hard to hit as you would think. Despite the company’s claims that just about anybody can hit these irons, I would still say that the target buyer for these irons are the better players, and I would go further and say they certainly are aligned towards players who make consistent solid contact, and that means a handicap range of zero to maybe 6.
True to the legend, the feel of a well struck golf shot with a Miura blade is unlike anything else. Hitting balls with this 1957 blade is so rewarding that I barely noticed the blisters forming on my left hand. For the first time in years, I spent an entire practice session of several hundred golf balls hitting nothing but the Miura 6 iron. Once I got into a grove with the club it almost felt like an extension of my arms. The solid shots feel almost like a practice swing, as the ball the club contact is hardly noticeable. The mishits transmit instant feedback and you can tell exactly where you missed it.
This club can do it all. It’s like a surgeon’s scalpel, or a chef’s pairing knife. In the hands of a skilled golfer there is no shot these irons can’t hit with ease. Workability is paramount when selecting a blade. After all, why hit a blade iron if all you want to do is hit it high and straight? The 1957 blade is as workable as any of the best blades I’ve hit.
Miura has always been known as the cream of the crop of forged clubs. Many of the worlds best players have had clubs made by Miura and stamped with the markings of another company to comply with club contracts. Anyone with the desire and cash can have a set of irons custom made to their exact specs or, through one of the company’s dealers can be fit for a set. MSRP for the 1957 blade is $250 per club, so they aren’t for the casual buyer. But for the forged blade purist, they are worth every penny. In the last 10 years I have hit hundreds and hundreds of different clubs, and the Miura 1957 Blade is in my top 5 of all time.
Miura Golf’s corporate office is located in Vancouver, British Columbia and Miura Golf clubs are sold at the finest custom-fitting shops in North America. The Miura brand is marketed exclusively by Miura Golf Inc., in the United States and North America. More information on Miura products can be found at www.miuragolf.com.
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