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|Maruman's Shuttle i4000X fairway woods are perhaps the best fairway woods you've never heard about. (Courtesy of Maruman)|
The growth and popularity of golf in Asia is astounding. Asian players are gaining dominance in all the professional world tours, and more golf courses are being built in Asia than anywhere else.
But it's golf equipment where Asia is making the greatest strides, and Japan is leading the way.
American golfers, who tend to think everyone around the world plays Titleist, TaylorMade and Nike, may have heard of Yonex or Mizuno, or maybe they even realize Bridgestone is a Japanese company. But they often dismiss any Japanese companies they haven't heard of as Johnny-come-latelies or knock-offs.
But U.S. golfers who ignore Japanese equipment are missing out on some of the highest quality (and sometimes highest priced) clubs on the market. Serious golfers who are willing to pay for top performance would be wise to check out Japanese names such as Miura, Akira, Honma, Yamaha, Geotech, Seiko, Epon, Baldo and many others.
One of the most well-respected Japanese equipment companies largely unknown to American golfers is Maruman, which has been producing solid clubs since the 1970s.
Maruman's 2011 Shuttle i4000X fairway woods boast the largest club heads and highest Moment of Inertia (MOI) of any fairway woods on the market. And at $220, they are priced more in line with U.S. market expectations than most of their high-end Japanese counterparts.
I tested the Shuttle i4000X, 15-degree 3-wood extensively over the golf course of several rounds and was immediately and continually impressed. What you notice first about the i4000X is the club head size: 230cc. This was the size of a lot of big-headed drivers not so many years ago.
But unlike older-model drivers, the i4000X head is flattened to produce a low-profile face that is ideal for picking the ball off of tight lies or cutting through the rough. At set-up, all of these features, along with a jet-black finish, produce an almost overwhelming sense of confidence.
From both the tee and the fairway, the i4000X delivered consistent distance, powered by its stock 50-gram WLT Type-08F stiff shaft. The feel was also exceptional, which is perhaps increased by Maruman's "power-rib" technology that reinforces the super-thin maraging steel face.
Maruman's Shuttle i4000X fairway woods come in 3W, 5W, 7W, 9W, 11W, 13W (with lofts from 15 degrees to 30 degrees), and there's even a 2W version (the 13-degree "Brassey"). So if you're looking to upgrade your fairway woods, these Japanese jewels are certainly worth serious consideration.
The only trouble with the Shuttle i4000X fairway woods is finding them. Although they were debuted to great fanfare at the 2011 PGA Merchandise Show, it's not easy to find pro shops on this side of the pond that carry Maruman sticks.
For more information, visit www.maruman.co.jp/english/golf
June 17, 2011
Kiel Christianson has lived, worked, traveled and golfed extensively on three continents. As senior writer and equipment editor for WorldGolf.com, he has reviewed courses, resorts, and golf academies from California to Ireland, including his home course, Lake of the Woods G.C. in Mahomet, Ill. Read his golf blog here and follow him on Twitter @GolfWriterKiel.
Whether you're a new player looking for a decent starter set, or an experienced player who doesn't want to blow your kid's college fund on new sticks, Hireko Golf offers a number of lines of clubs from putters to drivers that will fit any game.
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