Honma Golf didn’t waste any time making their presence known to start the new year. The Japanese-based equipment manufacturer officially announced the signing of Justin Rose to a multi-year equipment deal that, according to a press release, will see the second-ranked player in the world “lead Honma’s worldwide tour presence. The Board sees this as an important milestone in Honma’s efforts in global professional golf.” Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.
It’s unclear what Rose’s final equipment setup will look like when he begins his season in a few weeks at the Desert Classic in Palm Springs, Calif., but he’ll have at least 10 Honma clubs in the bag, per his agreement.
It will likely consist of the company’s T//World TW747 driver, T//World TW747 V prototype irons (4-6), T//World 747 “Justin Rose” forged muscleback (7-9) and T//World TW Forged wedges (47, 56 and 60 degrees). The new deal also requires Rose, who will play a part in future product development, to carry a Honma bag and have the brand’s logo on both sides of his hat.
Honma’s T//World 747 debuted in Asia the middle of last year and features a number of key technologies, including a proprietary adjustable hosel system that allows driver’s loft, lie and face angle to be adjusted without rotating the spine of the shaft — something the company boasts improves ball flight and distance.
How Rose rounds out the rest of his bag setup, including the golf ball, remains to be seen as well. It’s possible he could use TaylorMade product early on in the season, due to his familiarity with the equipment.
“I’m extremely excited to be joining Honma.” Rose said in the release, “Coming off one of my best years professionally, I wanted to make it a point to get better. I believe Honma equipment and the legendary Honma craftsmanship can help make me better.”
Prior to signing Rose, Honma’s top-ranked player on the PGA Tour was Hideto Tanihara (174th), whose claim to fame on Tour was reaching the semifinals of the 2017 WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play. It’s been rumored that Honma could bolster its Tour staff with a couple more players in the coming weeks.
With Rose now in the fold, Honma has an immediate presence on the PGA Tour, something former TaylorMade CEO Mark King has been working towards since he was hired by the equipment manufacturer in August as a strategic advisor.
King, who spent 34 years with TaylorMade and held the CEO position from 1999-2013, is believed to be running Honma’s North American operation with the hiring of former executives who previously worked alongside him during his time in Carlsbad.
As for why Honma decided to sign Rose, Honma chairman Liu Jian Guo said it came down to his alignment with the “[company’s] values,” and belief “Justin’s local and international influence in the sport and his media coverage and social media following, the partnership will create an immediate and positive uplift of Honma’s brand image and product awareness in mature markets such as North America and Europe which will in turn accelerate the implementation of Honma’s growth strategies in these markets.”
Established in 1959 in Sakata, Japan, Honma struggled to make a name for itself early on and filed for bankruptcy protection in 2005 before it was acquired by a Chinese fund run by businessman Liu Jian Guo. Over the last eight years, Jian Guo has turned Honma into a premium brand in Asia with gold-plated drivers and irons that run in the five-figure range. Some full sets in the past have gone for as much as $75,000.
Since Rose was unveiled as Honma’s newest signing this morning, the company’s stock has already gone up more than four percent. Honma plans to release a product line in North America later this month.