We have confirmed that the Ben Hogan Equipment Company in Ft. Worth, Texas laid off 100% of its employees this morning. This appears to end one of the best comeback stories of the last several years, although Hogan representatives are emphasizing that the company has not been shutdown.
“The Ben Hogan Golf Equipment Company is not shutting down,” Hogan CEO Scott White tells MyGolfSpy. “We have voluntarily implemented a reorganization initiative to minimize expenses and streamline the organization.”
White adds the reorganization is “an effort to be more nimble and profitable in a highly competitive golf equipment industry.”
All outstanding Hogan product orders, and any new ones, will be fulfilled, according to White. “We continue to receive and process orders on BenHoganGolf.com, and through our many customers.”
No matter how you slice it, this isn’t good news for the Hogan brand. The word disappointing doesn’t begin to describe it, especially for those with fond memories of the original Hogan brand.
Sources tell MyGolfSpy that personnel reductions were discussed at a recent Board of Directors meeting, but nothing to this extent.
Sources also tell MyGolfSpy that Hogan owes money to several media outlets and vendors, and has so for a while, which is always an indication of a struggling operation. Other sources report that Perry Ellis, the owner of the Hogan brand who licensed the name to the Ben Hogan Company, has had concerns over the current status of the golf equipment company.
Hogan announced its return to the equipment business in 2014, introducing the Fort Worth 15 forged irons and TK 15 forged wedges the following January. The equipment was well received industry-wide, but Hogan struggled with distribution during its first year. The business plan at the time included selling through Green Grass distribution and certified fitters exclusively, as well as through Hogan’s website. More retail distribution was brought on in 2016, as Hogan added the game improvement PTx irons, VKTR hybrids and Fort Worth Hi utility irons to its offering. There had been plans to add metal woods in 2017.
Ben Hogan started the company in 1953, and it survived a series of ownership changes until 2007, when Callaway mothballed the brand. Perry Ellis purchased the brand a few years later, and then licensed the brand to Terry Koehler, the owner of SCOR golf, in 2013. Koehler introduced the new Ben Hogan Golf Equipment Company in 2014 and debuted the new product line at the PGA Merchandise Show in early 2015.
Hogan moved into lavish, new headquarters and assembly facility in Forth Worth that spring. Just last summer, Koehler resigned as CEO of Hogan and was replaced by White, an industry veteran with tenures at both Callaway and TaylorMade.
Ultimately, the new Hogan was unable to get over the market share hump to sustain its marketing efforts. The brand itself was in a weird niche – a sort of semi-premium – priced higher than the Callaway/TaylorMade/PING/Cobra/Titleist collective, but below the high end, custom brands PXG, Miura, Honma and XXIO.