When it comes to golf clubs, only two countries offer top-tier products—the US and Japan.
While the US focuses more on marketing and gimmicky promotional features, Japanese golf club manufacturers concentrate on performance and results.
This is why you may not have heard of some of these Japanese golf clubs. All these companies distribute their funds to research and development instead of hiring millionaire PGA pros.
You will notice the difference as soon as you hold one of these golf clubs. The Honma TR20, for example, has a feeling of royalty to it. Pulling off the headcover gives you a sense of confidence in your golf game that no American club can match.
If performance, craftsmanship, and attention to detail are not enough for you, then knowing you have a better driver than all your buddies should be reason enough to get one of these. They’ll all be wondering what kind of driver it is when you start bombing it past them.
Choose one of the best Japanese golf clubs below.
Best Japanese Golf Driver – Rundown
- Ti-Carbon Fast Frame
- Adjustable sole weights
- Non-rotating loft adjuster
- Three different weight tracks to affect ball flight
- Change your direction and height
- More compact head shape
- Star designed frame for stability
- Ultra-thin sole to re-distribute weight
- Higher launch for moderate swing speeds
- Traditional look but designed for mid-handicappers
- Higher launch angle for added distance
- Single rear weight to increase forgiveness
- Made for experienced golfers looking for distance without sacrificing control
- CUP face technology to add forgiveness
- Carbon sole increases club head speed
In-Depth Product Reviews
Honma TR20 — Best Overall
It would have been easy to put one of Mizuno’s golf clubs at the top of this list, but then I’d be lying. The Honma TR20 is a superior driver to anything Mizuno has, and it is better than most mainstream drivers out there altogether.
The reason you don’t hear of it much is because of less marketing. Honma chooses to invest its money into research and development instead of high-priced PGA stars. The result is an incredible driver that is in a league of its own.
The Best Japanese Golf Clubs Start With A Great Frame
Its genius starts with a unique frame that marries carbon and titanium in what they call a Ti-Carbon Fast Frame.
The titanium acts as the skeleton of the entire driver head to provide a strong foundation that is even throughout. The carbon fiber is then used to encase the frame elegantly while adding next to no weight at all.
Interchangeable Weights To Optimize Your Tee Shots
This design has allowed Honma clubs to strategically place weight wherever they want. They have also left the decision in your hands by installing three-weight ports on the sole. These ports can be fitted with weights weighing between 3-grams and 9-grams.
Use these weights to influence your shot shape. For example, if you slice the ball, then place more weight in the heel. This will cause the toe to speed up so it can get square at impact.
A Unique Way To Adjust Your Loft
Another great feature of this driver is the loft adjustment. While many golf clubs have this, not many are non-rotating. What this means is you can adjust the loft without your grip being turned upside down. Your grip stays pointing in the same direction no matter what loft you choose.
Enjoy a clean look and fantastic sounds. When you hit the sweet spot, it has a solid yet muted sound. When you mis-hit, you’ll know it by the sound and the feel. This kind of feedback is valuable to skilled players, which is why this driver ranks so highly amongst the best Japanese golf clubs.
Mizuno STG-220 — Most Adjustable
As the most notable name on this list, Mizuno is an established name in the world of Japanese golf clubs. Most commonly known for their prestigious Japanese forged irons that have been globally acclaimed, the ST line of drivers is a great compliment.
This new version is the latest to join what is already an outstanding line of drivers. They saved the best for last as this driver has features that no other driver has. It’s aimed at low-handicap players because the adjustability favors those with consistent ball-striking ability.
Wide Array Of Custom Settings Available
There are three weight tracks on the sole of this golf club—two on the outside (heel and toe) and one on the back in the center. The two on the outside will help you improve your direction.
If you slice the ball, then move the weights to the heel side. This will cause the toe to speed up and turn over more to get square at impact.
The rear track will help you optimize your ball flight. Move it further back to gain a higher launch angle. This driver is perfect for those who struggle with too much spin. Move the weight to the best position for you to find the middle ground between low spin and high launch.
Get Your Ball In The Fairway More Often
Your control will also be improved as this driver comes with a slightly shorter stock shaft. This is to counter the command you give up on the driver’s face. Even though this is a deep face, it still has a smaller sweet spot than most golfers are used to. A shorter shaft will aid you in gaining more control through impact.
The head looks great at address. For a 460 CC head, it looks very compact. The deeper face helps to create this illusion by shortening the length from front to back.
XXIO Eleven — Best For Moderate Swing Speeds
XXIO has made a name for itself with its new line of X drivers. For the past 20 years, they have been helping golfers in a specific niche, those with moderate swing speeds.
This includes a wide range of players, from new golfers to those who are feeling the inevitable effects of aging. Whichever group you belong to, the new XXIO Eleven is the driver that XXIO was meant to make.
Strong Skeleton To Reduce Weight
The benefits start with a star-shaped frame. This provides a super-light frame to be able to position weight exactly where you need it.
The sole is ultra-thin, giving designers the freedom to place more weight in the back and give you a higher launch angle. This is a massive advantage to golfers with a moderate swing speed.
Swing Faster With A Re-Designed Lightweight Club Head
You can pick up a few more mph’s on your swing as well since this driver is so light.
To increase the feeling of speed, there is weight placed in the shaft under the grip. By having weight this high up, it makes the head feel even more light.
To further help with distance, XXIO has installed a CUP face on this driver. That means the face attaches to the end by stretching over the edges. This creates more of a trampoline effect off the face that will propel your golf ball into the stratosphere when hit correctly.
If you find this driver to still be a bit heavy for you, you can upgrade to the XXIO Prime, which is their flagship model. It’s one of the most expensive golf clubs, but can you really put a price on game improvement?
Srixon ZX5 — Best Looking
Srixon has seen great success with the launch of their tour version of this driver, the ZX7. Since that was received so well, they have made some modifications to it to make it more accessible to the weekend golfers out there.
For those looking for a driver with a traditional look AND who provides tour-level confidence, then the ZX5 is perfect for you.
Adjust The Weight To Adjust Your Launch Angle
The main difference between this driver and the tour version is the weight placement. The ReBound frame is strong and light to allow weight to be re-distributed to more valuable places.
This driver has focused its weight further back and directly in the center. By doing so, you’ll experience a higher launch angle. While most players crave a piercing ball flight, studies have shown that you need substantially more height to get impressive distance.
The back weight also provides a ton more forgiveness. It opens up the club face more, so off-center hits still get good power to gain distance.
Reduced Weight Will Add MPH’s To Your Swing Speed
If you find this is creating too much spin for you, you can change the weight in the back to something lighter.
The overall weight is already very light, though. The carbon crown is a big reason for this. A light driver is the easiest way to increase your swing speed. Just his feature alone will result in further drives.
XXIO X Black — Most Expensive
While most of the best Japanese golf clubs tend to cost a little extra, this is not for nothing. The time, energy, and care that go into these golf clubs are much different from their American counterparts.
You Get What You Pay For
It seems to be a point of pride amongst Japanese manufacturers to make a driver more expensive. This driver defines that as the craftsmanship and attention to detail is second to none here.
To start, this driver targets a particular niche. It’s for golfers who are skilled and have a reliable swing but are looking for extra distance. They don’t want to sacrifice and control, which is the challenge. XXIO has solved this problem.
To keep your golf ball in the fairway and with great distance, this driver uses CUP face technology. Only a handful of Japanese golf clubs use this technique, and we wish to see it more amongst drivers. The face stretches over the edges of the driver’s head to provide a wide sweet spot and extra bounce off the sweet spot.
The Speed Created Is Real And Immediate
You can add yards to your tee shots immediately with the carbon sole. This reduces the overall weight of the club and will have you swinging faster than you ever have.
To further increase your ball speed, they have added weight in the shaft under the grip. As the only company doing this, it gives you the feeling of an ultra-light club head. This may take a few swings to get used to, but very soon, you’ll see the benefit of it.
Frequently Asked Questions About Japanese Drivers
What is the best Japanese Driver?
The best Japanese driver is the Honma TR20. It’s a great combination of power and accuracy. Another considerable advantage is the look. A traditional look is signature to Japanese golf clubs, but this one manages to fill you with confidence just by looking at it. Get your hands on one of these, and you’ll never go back to American-made again.
What makes Japanese drivers different?
What makes Japanese drivers different is their attention to detail. While in the US, we are now being groomed to do our own fitting through all the adjustments available on drivers. While some Japanese golf clubs offer adjustability, it is limited. Their standards are much higher, and they have very strict guidelines that we can only dream of.
Who benefits from a Japanese driver?
People who benefit from Japanese drivers will be in the mid-low handicap range. Experienced golfers will be able to notice the small details that separate one Japanese golf club manufacturer from another. Elite golfers will also appreciate the understated look that most Japanese brands offer. American golf clubs can be gimmicky and decorated (e.g., Cobra). The best Japanese golf clubs eliminate all the noise.
Why have I not heard about some of these Japanese drivers?
You may not have heard about these Japanese golf clubs because they choose to spend less money on marketing and more on research and development. If American clubs are made in a factory, then Japanese clubs are made in a laboratory. They take a more deliberate approach to building excellent clubs, and it shows on the golf course.
What pros play Japanese drivers?
Justin Rose won the 2018 Farmer’s Insurance Open with a Honma brand driver and irons in his bag. Luke Donald and Paul Casey have played Mizuno irons on and off for years. Hideki Matsuyama won the 2021 Masters with a bag full of Srixon clubs.
Where is the best place to buy Japanese drivers?
The best place to buy Japanese drivers is on globalgolf.com. They have the most competitive prices I can find, and the website is easy to navigate. There are detailed descriptions of each club, and arranging to ship is easy. They have a lot of stock as well, so they are rarely sold out of any product.
Looking for Japanese clubs means you have done some extensive research on other expensive golf drivers and weren’t happy with the results.
To finally make a decision on one of the best Japanese golf clubs for you, there will be a certain amount of hunting that will have to happen.
For the best overall driver that capitalized on everything Japanese clubs have to offer, you can simplify the process and get the Honma TR20. I found this to be a very well-rounded golf club and a shining example of Japan’s dedication to the game of golf.
Take advantage of world-leading devotion to craftsmanship and start lowering your scores with one.