Miura Golf of Japan has been making some of the world’s finest forged golf clubs for over 50 years. Designed and manufactured by patriarch and club expert Katsuhiro Miura with the help of his sons Yoshitaka and Shinei, Miura clubs are handcrafted using special forging techniques to assure that the grain of the steel in each club will be fine and uniform.
In the second part of our Chicago Golf Report Podcast interview with Miura Executive Vice-President Bill Holowaty, we learn why the Miura name is highly respected on the PGA Tour and how each club is touched by a Miura family member. We also discuss how the next generation of the Miura family has continued the standards and traditions set by Katsuhiro Miura and how the company selects their club dealers.
Chicago Golf Report: One of the unique things about Miura is the fact that it came from an actual person and has the Miura name behind it. How much is the Miura family involved with new production introduction, through the development of the clubs and how they’re manufactured. How much are they still sort of championing a lot of this stuff?
Bill Holowaty: Great question and I always mention it when I’m talking to people, but I think people lose touch. Like when I say and tell people there is a Mr. Miura, there’s a little bit of a hesitation, and I anecdotally can tell you a story.
The Greater Vancouver Open many years ago there was a player playing in the tournament who was playing Miura clubs. This was early 2000 and had received the clubs through one of our contacts in the Dallas area.
He was a winner on the PGA Tour but not a big name, and we went up to meet him on the putting green and just said that we were with Miura Golf and Mr. Miura would like to thank you for playing with his clubs. And the response was wide-eyed, ‘There’s a Mr. Miura?’
And I think that we still find that today to some extent. Obviously our growth within the last number of years, and the fine work of many golf writers and bloggers and the likes of websites has really helped in promoting and building our brand.
But getting back to your question, when talking about Mr. Miura, once people discover that, I think there’s an understanding that this is something special. We’ve very lucky that Mr. Miura has two sons intimately involved in the business.Yoshitaka, as I said is the number one son. He occupies the number two chair on the grinding line. The number one chair is still occupied by Mr. Miura, which in itself is something very special.
In all likelihood, every Miura club that is produced has one of the Miura’s hands or fingerprints all over it, and that in itself is something we’re very proud of. And I think it goes a little bit, part of the story that we need to continue to tell the handmade component of a forged club how, at every step in the process there’s a human beings hands on it, whether it’s stamping grooves, or the number on the sole or attaching the hosel.
I mean there’s a human element, and that in itself I think is really amazing when you consider that you might have 100 7-irons in a tray in front of you. You watch Yoshitaka or Mr. Miura grinding 7-irons, you think okay they can’t all be the same. And subsequently you measure the weight in them and they’re all plus or minus half a gram, and not even a trained eye really could find any differences in them.
So that’s really unique, and that’s a big part of the Miura’s, and as such their involvement from start to finish. The number two son, and president of Miura factory is Shinei is involved in all aspects of it, but very much involved in the design and the initial forging of the clubs, taking that billet of raw carbon steel and turning it into what Yoshitaka eventually grinds.
So personal opinion obviously matters a lot, but the legacy of the Miura Company is so strong because these two guys are so passionate. And Yoshitaka and Shinei both have minds that understand what golfers are looking for. They pay attention to your every aspect of the industry, material, raw materials, new technologies. What the pros are doing, what the amateurs are doing, so we’re really thrilled with that.
And from that standpoint when you can be working on a new design and sit at the grinding wheel and say, I wonder how this is going to work. And do it and take it right to the practice ground for the driving range, be it yourself or with a professional golfer. That’s pretty hands-on and that ensures that we’re going to be on top of the new designs and technology, not only in the short term, but through the long term as well.
And just one of the quick anecdotal story that goes back a number of years obviously, but Mr. Miura, when he got his company started and was shipping out product one day and Mrs. Miura was in the finishing room. She was actually on that particular day taping off heads and pre-sandblast, and looked at something that was going out, went through them and found that there were some quality problems. And she made it known to Mr. Miura at that time that they weren’t shipping that out with their name on it until it was perfect.
And Mr. Miura, like many of us learned that the job worth doing is worth doing right. And to that end, and I think you’ll find this with all the club fitters that when heads show up at their door, and they are 100% certain that they are going to be absolutely perfect. That allows our dealers to deliver to their customers where there’s arguably the best golf club money can buy.
Chicago Golf Report: So that brings me to my final question for you, as far as your dealer network I know in Illinois you’re available through Club Champion and a few other local dealers. Can you explain a little bit about the process of how do you go about selecting dealers for Miura clubs, and what’s important to you in order to create that solid network?
Bill Holowaty: I think our expectations, our vision of what a Miura dealer represents has evolved over the years. I think we began initially with the knowledge that there were hobbyists in the world, and then there are custom club fitters who have trained, and committed to their craft. That doesn’t mean that the hobbyist is necessarily poor at what he does or the brick and mortar location has craftsmen or workers there who are any better.
So we really have created a dialogue and continue to talk with our existing dealers but moving forward with new dealers. A real open dialogue talking about what it means to be a Miura dealer and what our expectations are. And that has worked extremely well for us. We tend to find that club fitters will reach out to us as opposed to Miura going and knocking on their door and trying to bring in somebody else to the dealer network just for the sake of having that.
So we’re very particular about who hangs the Miura shingle on their door, but having said that we are committed to working with dealers and sometimes that expectation can scare a potential dealer off. But face-to-face, from our salespeople, from Charlie Gervert, from Shaun Brevakas, from Ted Cotter, that they are able to determine very quickly whether there is opportunity there.
We’re certainly willing to work with potential dealers in that regard. Learn a little bit about their business. Communicate what our expectations are and sometimes we say no, there will be a first time and revisit six months down the road with a better understanding. And ultimately we determine whether the relationship is going to be a good one or not a bad one, but whether or not it’s going to be a good one and successful for both parties. Because ultimately that’s what it has to be. It has to be good for the dealer, and it has to be good for Miura Golf. And if that happens typically is going to be good for the consumer.