Daiwa Golf, a Japanese-based company which hasn't had much of a presence in the U.S. for a decade or more, has quietly returned to these shores.
A popular import brand in the 1990s, led by tour players such as Ian Baker-Finch and Dan Forsman, Daiwa -- a major player in the fishing equipment business -- has been slowly and quietly building distribution this season for its new clubs, called OnOff.
|OnOff Red driver|
"A decade ago, a number of Japanese companies essentially pulled out of the U.S. market," said Mike Matheny, the Daiwa Golf USA general manager of sales who is overseeing the line's relaunch in North America. "For the past few years, Daiwa has had some presence, but not much to speak of, and nothing really new. This year, the company finally launched an all-new lineup, including women's clubs and accessories."
Headquartered in Cerritos, Calif., Daiwa first built a positive reputation for its shafts, then launched into a full-club company. Its newest clubs are integrating modern features to help optimize performance.
"We're a low-premium product," said Matheny. "Our prices are competitive in the U.S. and not as high as other Japanese golf lines.
For now, Daiwa's OnOff clubs are available mostly at golf specialty stores in select sections of the country and at various golf websites. Looking ahead, the company intends to increase retail distribution. In 2009, it plans to introduce two more drivers and to reintroduce its previously popular Hi-Trac irons.
Here's a closer look at the OnOff portfolio.
The OnOff driver is distinguishable by its red finish while the OnOff Plus driver has a black finish.
Both models are 460cc with multiple-blend titanium heads. They feature a new Hyper Effect Zone design by Daiwa that includes a specially engineered face insert meant to maximize initial ball velocity, and a Power Bridge sole design which, in conjunction with a thinner titanium crown, helps lower the center of gravity.
The OnOff driver is geared to provide average golfers with a slightly higher trajectory and a slight draw bias with less ball spin. The OnOff Plus driver features a taper-stepped face thickness to maximize energy transfer.
Both drivers are outfitted with Daiwa's Smooth Kick graphite shaft, a four-layer design.