Justin Rose has signed a 10-year endorsement deal with Japan-based Honma Golf, effectively inking a contract which will have him in the company's clubs until just before he's eligible for PGA Tour Champions.
The 38-year-old Rose had been rumored to have signed with Honma throughout the summer and early fall. After winning the Turkish Airlines Open on the European Tour in November, Rose effectively confirmed the rumor of his move from TaylorMade, saying, "Where's there's smoke, there's fire."
However, Rose and Honma wouldn't be able to confirm the switch publicly until the start of 2019. So, at 12:01 on January 1, Honma kicked off the sponsorship festivities of the new year by announcing what had already been known in concept.
“When we thought about the ideal golfer that aligns with our company values, everything pointed to Justin Rose,” said Liu Jianguo, chairman of Honma Golf. “Justin is a world-class player, and beyond that, a gentleman and family man. We are ecstatic to have him on the Honma team.”
Who is Honma Golf?
Honma Golf was founded in Sakata, Japan, in 1959, but the business was purchased out of bankruptcy by current chairman Liu Jianguo through a fun in 2005. Jianguo made his money in his native China through selling home appliances. He quickly moved to change Honma's business model, and the company recovered.
Honma makes golf equipment typically sold to players with slower and moderate swing speeds. The clubs are expensive, reaching in the thousands for a driver. Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe gifted President Donald Trump with a $4,000 gold-plated Honma driver shortly after his election in 2016.
The company has made an effort to jump into the American marketplace, offering a custom-fitting model with a variety of experiential stores and sales points. Though sales have nearly doubled year-over-year, Honma has few American accounts.
Honma brought in former TaylorMade golf head and former adidas North America boss Mark King as a "strategic advisor" in August to help their golf operation. King has been said to have been ostensibly put in charge of the North American operation. It's thought King, who saw signing top pros including Rose as a huge priority when at TaylorMade's helm from 1999-2013, was able to lure Rose to the brand.
Justin Rose's new WITB
The specifics of Rose's contract with Honma call for the former world No. 1 to play 10 Honma clubs in his bag, and he's free to play the golf ball of his choice. The clubs will mostly be custom for Rose, and there will no doubt be changes throughout the first year of the contract to dial in lofts, gaps and more to fit Rose's game.
Rose will have a Honma golf bag and their logo on two places on his hat.
It's said Rose won't be the only player signing with Honma, as King's influence perhaps grows. The company already brought on So Yeon Ryu and Shan Shan Feng. The company now sponsors the European Tour's Hong Kong Open. The signing(s) will accompany product launches in January 2019.