50 Words or Less
The Honma BERES Black driver is a strong performer with noteworthy consistency. Designed for moderate swing speeds. The premium price tag is commensurate with the high end materials and luxury status.
Over the past several years, Honma has done a wonderful job expanding its presence in the U.S. market. That’s not to say that the average golfer has ever hit a Honma club, but they wouldn’t be shocked to see one in someone’s bag on the first tee. In fact, if you spot one and want to hit it, try this line: “Wow, Honma has been crafting premium clubs for over six decades and I’ve never hit one – do you mind?”
Now, if that club is the new Honma BERES Black driver, be prepared for the Heisman stiff arm. The clubs in Honma’s BERES family are the ones that would be displayed on the shelf above the top shelf. I picture the following statement from the Honma website as a plaque identifying the clubs at the royal palace:
BERES is simply the world’s most premium golf club line. Golfers lucky enough to play it appreciate the impeccable detail and craftsmanship; and treasure the prestige and status that comes with having BERES in their bag.
As you can imagine, the BERES Black driver’s price tag befits this depiction. But before we address that, let’s take a close look at the driver itself.
To start things off, the BERES Black driver headcover deserves a tip of the cap. I love the look of the contrasting materials Honma utilized in both the body and the trim. The slick, matte finished and pebbled panels combine for a distinctive high end look. The execution of the black and the gold stitching is flawless. There’s a wonderful suppleness to the cover and the plushness of the interior is heavenly.
In the address position, the BERES Black driver presents itself with a simple, sleek silhouette albeit slightly closed. The black crown has a gloss finish, yet the reflectiveness is somehow restrained. A gold arrowhead denotes the prime strike location – a helpful reference to for the toe centric shape.
The face of the BERES Black driver is mesmerizing. The fine milled lines radiating from the mole-in-the-hole logo are not only visually impressive, but also capture dimple impressions for tracking strike location.
Gold accents provide interest to the fairly simple sole. There are slots and geometric elements to the sole, but in comparison to most drivers, the BERES Black design is restrained. If you are looking for a flashy driver, check out the graphics on the BERES Aizu or the bejeweled 3-Star and 4-Star drivers.
Sound & Feel
The counterbalanced shaft, designed and manufactured in-house by Honma, had a wonderfully fluid feel. The clubhead felt like it was gliding effortlessly on a track whether with a slow practice swing or when leaving nothing in reserve. The head itself was immensely stable, even when my contact waivered from center. The Black is clearly built for forgiveness.
Powerful and pure sounding, the BERES Black driver produced a midtone, metallic ‘crack’ with a hint of resonance. My mind harkened back to a minor league ballpark with all the fielders hunched over waiting for the pitch and that ‘crack’ off the aluminum bat that made all the players stand up knowing that the ball was “yard” instantly from the sound. The beautiful thing about the BERES Black driver is that you get that sound with every reasonable strike.
After a few windy range sessions with the Honma BERES Black driver, I was anxious to see performance data in the controlled environment of Club Champion. I had been impressed with the high ball flight and solid carry distances I observed outside, but as any golfer will tell you – especially when explaining why their shot didn’t deliver the intended results – blustery winds can play havoc.
As I scanned the data, every field looked great. Smash factor, good. Spin rate, desirable. And the accolades kept flowing. The only parameter that was sub-optimal, but still very acceptable, was the landing angle, which was a degree or two high. Not reflected in the table above is the amazing consistency. All this was more impressive given that I had no warm up and hadn’t hit balls in two weeks.
Honma gives performance credit to four design features: the Triple Slot Sole, the Radial L-Cup Face, the Ti811 Thin Crown and the ARMRQ shaft. From my observations, there’s clearly a synergistic effect from the four of them working harmoniously together.
The Triple Slot is self-evident in the sole just behind the face. Not observable is that during contact the segments flex and return to shape “instantly,” boosting ball speed.
The Radial L-Cup Face is one amazing piece of metal, devoid of welding, that offers an expansive sweet spot. If you are intrigued by the radial design on the face, you should definitely take a look at the cool design on the back side revealed on the information sheet available on the Honma product page.
That same info sheet has a wonderful graphic that depicts the multiple segments that make up the titanium crown. And in true BERES fashion, Honma utilized titanium alloy 811, which has the highest modulus and lowest density of all titanium alloys. By shaving weight in the crown, Honma designers were able to optimize the COG of the head and promote high launch, low spin and a slight draw bias.
As I noted earlier, Honma designs and manufactures their shafts in-house. Honma is widely respected for their meticulous attention to shaft designs and use of advanced materials. For BERES shafts, only their most seasoned Takumi (expert craftsman) are trusted with the hand-rolled construction. The ARMRQ shaft utilizes a new 10 axis hybrid composite consisting of 4 axis of aluminum and 6 axis of carbon. The counterbalanced design allows for faster club head speed and consistent performance.
Initially, and unfairly, skeptical based on the high price, I must say I was impressed with the Honma BERES Black driver. The fairway finding repeatability is something all golfers desire. And the feel and flow of the BERES Black driver is perfect for those of us with non-tour swing speeds. But the $1,149 price tag is hard to justify analytically. Granted, with shaft upgrades, 2022 drivers from many brands can push $800, but that’s still a significant cost leap. I’d categorize the Honma BERES Black driver as a luxury item – a premium product whose desirability is enhanced by its premium pricing.
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Honma BERES Black Driver Price & Specs