Throughout all its iterations dating back to 1953, the Ben Hogan Company has had its good days and its bad days. There have been major championships and changes in ownership, along with comebacks, setbacks, mothballing, bankrolling, shutdowns and other showdowns.
Love it or hate it, it’s the brand that simply refuses to die.
And not only is Hogan refusing to die, but it’s also actually insisting on being relevant again by following up last week’s Equalizer wedge release with an entirely new from-the-ground-up iron set bearing a classic Hogan name – Edge.
Feel + Forgiveness
“It made a lot of sense, given the history and the heritage of the Edge name, to bring it back,” says Hogan CEO Scott White. The very first Hogan Edge iron was introduced in the late 80’s and became one of the most successful game-improvement irons in history. It was the first Hogan iron to feature perimeter weighting for extra forgiveness, along with the classic Hogan forged feel.
Will the new Edge live up to the standard set by its namesake? Not surprisingly, White says absolutely.
“I don’t like the term game-improvement. I’d rather call it game-enhancement,” White tells MyGolfSpy. “It’s for guys or women who are serious about their games, who play a bit and have some skill. It’s not a club with training wheels by any stretch of the imagination, but it does have some game improvement properties to it.”
There’s plenty of perimeter weighting in the new Edge, but it’s well hidden internally. There’s still a cavity, and you can physically see the outline of the perimeter weighting, but the vast majority of the weighting is inside the head. The Edge is a two-piece forging: once the perimeter weighting is put in the proper place for each iron, the forged face is laser-welded onto the forged frame.
White says it bears the look of a traditional forging, but with a thicker topline and more offset than either the PTx or Ft. Worth 15 irons, which are both aimed at the better player. Overall, the head itself is about 12% larger than the PTx.
White says the Edge is for anyone ranging from a high single digit to around an 18 handicap.
“Hogan Tour staffers J.J. Henry and Mark Brooks both say the long irons may end up in their bags at some point,” says White. “It’s very forgiving, and it’s forged, so it feels great. It’s not a clunky, investment cast club that won’t give you any feedback on where you’re impacting the face. These will give you some feedback and help you improve.”
Last week we heard from a couple of readers quite vocal in their wishes for Hogan to bring back another iconic image – the Hogan sunburst logo. You’ll be happy to know Hogan was thinking the same thing.
As a former owner of the Hogan brand, Callaway still has rights to Hogan's other iconic name - Apex. White says that even thought Callaway did come out with irons named Edge a few years ago (and still sells them in a boxed-set to Costco), Hogan's lawyers have done their homework on the Edge name.
"Nobody owns the name 'Edge' outright. It's too generic. Our trademark is for 'Ben Hogan Edge,'"
Say Goodbye to Lofts
When Hogan returned in 2015, its theme was “Precision is Back.” Instead of using iron numbers, Hogan irons were instead stamped with lofts – what the company called the PreciseLoftTM System – and every loft from 20- to 47-degrees was available. So instead of reaching for your 7-iron from 165 yards out, you’d be reaching for your 33-iron (or your 34, or 35, depending on your set makeup).
It’s fair to say the concept was polarizing. Some golfers were fine with it, others not so much. From a manufacturing and assembly standpoint, it had to have been a logistical and inventory nightmare.
For the new Edge irons, it’s back to basics.
“We’ve gone back to traditional iron numbers only,” says White, who adds Hogan is still committed to the basic tenet of the PreciseLoftTM System: 4-degree gaps between clubs in the set.
“The loft compression at the short end of most sets is, quite honestly, just ridiculous,” declares White. “It really eliminates your ability to score well. We find in a lot of competitive sets you’re hitting your 7-, 8- and 9-irons within 7 to 10 yards of each other. That’s just not the way we think irons should be developed and built.”
Edge sets start with a 22-degree 4-iron and go up to a 46-degree pitching wedge – lofts which, by today’s standards, are downright traditional.
“It’s not a competition to see who has the longest 7-iron,” says White. “That’s not our goal.”
“We’re not trying to manufacture our irons to win at Demo Day. We’re trying to provide the best tools for a golfer to score with. Hogan players tend to be more accomplished, more skilled. For them it’s not about distance. It’s about having the tools to get around the golf course strategically and in as few strokes as possible. A 7-iron you can hit 180 yards isn’t necessarily the best way to do that.” – Scott White, Ben Hogan CEO
Each iron can be loft-adjusted 3-degrees up and 2-degrees down, as well as lie adjusted, which Hogan will provide as standard customization at no extra charge. You’ll also have your choice of standard or midsize grips and of available shafts: KBS Tour V in Stiff or X-Still, KBS Tour 90 in Regular or Stiff, or UST Recoil 660 in A-Flex or Regular, or the 680 in Stiff.
The Edge irons will sell only on Hogan’s website for $105.00 per club or $735.00 for a seven club set. The price is the same for steel or graphite shafts and includes all loft, lie, and shaft-specific swingweight customizations.
Edge irons should be part of Hogan’s 14-day Demo Program in early April. White says he’s hoping to have 6- and 9-iron demo sets available right around the Masters.
More Changes In Ft. Worth
As we mentioned last week, with the advent of the new Equalizer wedges, the Hogan TK 15 wedges will be phased out by the end of this year (you can buy them on Hogan’s website currently for $75/each). Some other changes are coming to the rest of the lineup, as well.
“PTx will stay in the lineup, but we’re going to eliminate two of the PreciseLoftTM configurations,” says White. Currently, Hogan offers the PTx in four separate loft configurations – it calls them Low, Mid, Mid-High or High launch. Low Launch, for example, is a 7-club set starting at 20-degrees and ending at 44-degrees. High Launch starts at 23-degrees and ends at 47-degrees.
“80% of our orders are for the Mid-High Launch, the one that starts at 22-degrees. So we’re going to offer that one, and the low launch as well – we get a lot of orders from people playing in the Texas wind – so we’re going to phase out the odd number lofts.” - Scott White
White says there may be some changes coming to the Ft. Worth 15 irons (“Film at 11,” he says), but any changes or enhancements won’t be coming for a few months. No changes are planned for the Hogan VKTR hybrids or Ft. Worth 15 Hi utility irons and don’t expect any metal woods from Hogan this year.
“We continue to work on them,” says White. “But we’re still not where we need to be.”
“If you dig it out of the dirt, it is yours forever.” – Hogan, quoted by Hueber
Mr. Hogan may have been talking about the golf swing, but it’s an apt analogy for this version of his company.
“A year ago, we really weren’t sure what was going to happen,” says White. “But by doing things simply, methodically, strategically and doing a few things well instead of a bunch of things poorly, it’s an easy formula.”
White admits that at this time last year, he really didn’t think Hogan would still be around. But once new ownership was in place and the Direct-to-Consumer model was launched, he knew Hogan was back in the game.
“These aren’t guys who just dabble in anything,” he says. “When they see an opportunity to upset the status quo and make an impact in an established industry like golf equipment, I knew then this was going to be a lot of fun. We’re staying focused on the serious, more accomplished golfer. As long as you have a direction and everybody understands it, it’s pretty easy to execute on it.”