The story on Development of MG701 4 The Dawn of a New Era
So just how much striking could the iron head with a face only 1.9mm in thickness take? We attached it to a strike-test robot at the plant. Our litmus test was the prototype we had created half a year before, which has cracked after 2,000 strikes.
The robot began hitting the ball at a consistent head speed of 40 meters/second. After 10-plus hours of hitting, the number of strikes had surpassed 2,000. The development team was nervous as they prepared to inspect the face, but―look and behold―there were no cracks! The testing continued through the night. “We couldn't sleep at all,” Abe, plant director, said of the time. After two days, there was still no damage to the face. The third day of testing began. The number of strikes had topped 10,000. This number was far greater than conventional tests. Still no cracks!!!
The team was elated. Immediately attaching a shaft to the 1.9 mm head to create a prototype, they headed for the driving range.
Metallic sounds echoed through the range. The sound was more high-pitched that that of soft irons. Suwa didn’t feel comfortable with the sound. He returned to the research lab, adding urethane and rubber to the cavity aperture to minimize the sound. However, this caused the head to exceed the weight criteria, and it didn’t look good enough, either.
Trying to come up with a solution, he also decided to hold a competition amongst his team members.
And then he realized something.
Though the high-pitched sound had echoed at the range, there was nothing to echo off of at the course, and out there the club actually sounded as if a professional had hit the ball.
It was the same as when the transition from persimmon to titanium had been made for the wood club: Suwa felt a new age was upon them. Now, two years later, there are golfers who actually prefer the unique sound of stainless steel clubs, and many use that sound to put pressure on their fellow players.
Now the question was what to do about the look. The team rendered the head upright and the heel higher to facilitate offset and enhance sharpness, making it a design where the ball could be hit more easily.
The blade top was crafted thicker for better looks. This also served to render the head heavier, which meant better carry even on off-center shots. Further, we shortened the hosel and made the sole thicker to bring down the center of gravity for better stability. We also used improved bond glue on the shorter hosel and crafted a greater surface area where the glue was applied. The shaft was easily attached.
This combination of sharpness and softness concluded the Beres MG701?the average golfer’s dream club.
Still, we at Honma have never stopped giving the soft iron the attention it deserves. We believe that just as there are manual and automatic shift automobiles, the soft iron, which has its own special feel on impact, will never disappear despite the application of new materials. At the same time, we believe that the tendency to stick to any one thing should never be allowed to hinder development in other areas.
To ensure that we at Sakata produce the ultimate clubs to make all golfers’ dreams come true, we take great care with every step we take.