Ben Hogan may be the new record holder for product releases during a worldwide pandemic. Hogan released its new ICON blades just over a month-and-a-half ago, followed by two new bags and several accessories. Today, the company is adding to the tally with new utility irons, hybrids and a highly anticipated Hogan Player’s Iron Combo Set, featuring the ICON and the PTx PRO.
It’s “damn the pandemic, full speed ahead!”
“We had an exceptional sales month in April, pretty much by accident,” Hogan CEO Scott White tells MyGolfSpy. “We were closed for the entire month and we really weren’t sure when we were going to reopen [they reopened this week]. But we were just blown away by the sales.”
Today’s release includes UiHi utility irons, VKTR+ hybrids and the aforementioned combo set and represents the final steps in completely turning over Hogan’s original, pre-bankruptcy product lineup.
We know you want to know about the combo set, so let’s start there. We’ll look at utility irons and hybrids further down.
Hogan ICON/PTx PRO Player’s Combo
The hue and cry for a PTx PRO/ICON combo set started maybe 45 minutes to an hour after Hogan released the ICON blades in March.
Hogan’s official answer at the time was no. But what it really meant not yet.
“It’s been our most requested product for the past 2 1/2 years,” says White. “People want to be able to pick and choose their own Frankenstein set.”
Actually, the Hogan Player’s Iron Combo is three Frankenstein sets. The core of each set includes PTx PRO 5- through 7-irons and ICON blades in the 8-iron through pitching wedge. From there, you can choose what you want to serve as your 4-iron: a PTx PRO, a new UiHi utility iron or a VKTR+ hybrid.
“It’ not a set for everybody,” says White. “It’s for good players, more accomplished players who want blades in their scoring irons and great performing mid-irons. And it solves an issue a lot of people have had with combo sets over the years.”
A traditional combo set – unless it’s made to go together – really has two issues: difficult gapping and a hinky visual transition from cavity back to blade. It’s a problem NIKE handled reasonably well with its Pro Combo sets and Mizuno tackled head on with its MP-20s. All too often, however, combo sets try to match mismatched parts.
“Typically, there’s too much game improvement in the short irons and not enough in the long irons,” says White. “When you try to mix vanilla and chocolate, you get mocha. For this set, we’ve tried to keep each flavor independent of one another.”
Gaps and Offsets, Specs and Style
Both stylistically and spec-wise, the PTx PRO and ICON were seemingly meant to be together.
Throughout the line (including the hybrids and utilities), Hogan is maintaining its traditional four-degree gap between clubs. So the PTx PRO 7-iron is 34 degrees while the ICON 8-iron is 38 degrees. Visually, the head sizes flow reasonably well at the transition. The PTx PRO, as you’d expect, has a wider sole than the ICON and a wee bit more offset.
Hey, it’s a progressive set so at some point it has to progress.
There’s an noticeable – but not necessarily abrupt – visual difference between the cavity back of the PTx PRO and the ICON blade. Last year’s PTx PRO update included a subtle blade-on-blade look and the ICON’s ’99 Apex-like blade-on-blade design is unmistakable. This combo set has clearly been more than a year in the making.
“The transition from the 7-iron to the 8-iron looks like the way Mr. Hogan would have wanted it,” says White. “We know he did by looking at some of the old sets he was involved with.”
Both irons feature the iconic Hogan sunburst logo which is part of Hogan’s effort to fix one of the glaring flaws in its previous lineup: nothing looked like it belonged together.
“I think we’ve gotten back to what people think of when they think of Hogan in terms of classic, elegant and simple designs,” says White. “It wasn’t by accident.”
Some have wondered why the Hogan Player’s Iron Combo set wasn’t made available right away when the ICONs were released. There are two plausible explanations. First, spreading out releases keeps Hogan in the news cycle which is especially important during a pandemic. The other is far more practical: Hogan was waiting on its new hybrids and utility irons.
Both seem to apply.
Hogan VKTR+ Hybrids
It’s been just over four years since Hogan released the original VKTR and we’re no closer to figuring out how to say it. Is it Victor? Is it Vektor? Or is it V-K-T-R? Either way, it still sounds like a Soviet tank.
What it looks like, however, is an Adams.
“We outsource our design to different firms in the U.S.,” says White. “We can go to a blade guy or a driver guy. In the case of the VKTR+, the group we used has designers who worked for Adams.”
As with most of Hogan’s upgrades since its resurrection, the design changes are slight and subtle. Like its predecessor, the VKTR+ features an Adams-esque high-toe shape and is definitely more long-iron replacement and much less mini fairway wood. That should make it much less of a hook machine.
“That’s the problem with most hybrids. They look like mini fairway woods and people try to sweep them off the fairway,” says White. “These are designed to be swung like an iron.”
Visually, the new VKTR+ grabs some style cues from the old Hogan Edge CFT hybrids. There’s an abundance of chrome on the sole and the sunburst logo on the toe is a nice touch. And good news for anyone who gamed the original VKTR hybrids: the three adjustable weight ports on the rear and toe – which made the club whistle with every swing – are thankfully gone.
“They didn’t seem to add anything to the performance so we alleviated the whistling sound by taking them out.”
White adds that the new VKTR+ features variable face thickness technology with some added bulge and roll to help keep mishits online. Four-degree gapping is the rule at Hogan so the new hybrids will be available in 18-, 22- and 26-degree models (they’re not hosel adjustable), with the 22-degree offered as the 4-iron replacement in the Player’s Combo set.
Hogan UiHi Utility Irons
Let’s say this together so we get it right. It’s YOU-EYE-HIGH and if the first thing you thought of was the Three Stooges Swinging the Alphabet, you can be my friend forever.
The UiHi replaces the Ft. Worth Hi utility iron, which finished third overall in MyGolfSpy’s 2018 Most Wanted Utility Iron shootout. Visually, the UiHi features the Hogan sunburst logo and its cavity makes for a smooth transition to the PTx PRO end of the combo set
“The Ft. Worth Hi was designed to be an extension of the Ft. Worth irons,” says White. “It had that same dimple design in the back. None of that is incorporated into the new club.”
For some golfers, utility irons can be intimidating to look at and challenging to hit. You generally need some swing speed to get the launch and spin you want from such a low-lofted club. The Ft. Worth Hi was the highest launching and most accurate utility we tested in 2018 and – not unexpectedly – White says UiHi simply builds on that.
“It looks a lot less intimidating. People can’t believe it’s such a low-lofted club,” explains White. “It looks like you’re hitting a 6-iron and you don’t have to swing like a maniac to get it up in the air.”
Stylistically, the UiHi is an obvious extension of the PTx PRO and features mass low and rearward for easier launch. The offset is in line with the PTx PRO so it should flow well in the combo set.
As with the VKTR+ hybrids, the UiHi utility irons come in 18-, 22- and 26-degree options.
Price, Availability and Set Makeup
- PTx PRO (4- through 7-iron) and ICON (8-iron through PW), priced at $785.
- 22-degree UiHi with PTx PRO (5-7) and ICON (8-PW), also priced at $785.
- 22-degree VKTR+ with PTx PRO (5-7) and ICON (8-PW), priced at $815.
Hogan Player’s Iron Combo sets are available in chrome only at this time. Both the VKTR+ hybrids and UiHi utility irons can be purchased on their own. The hybrids sell for $140, while the utility irons are $110. As is Hogan’s history, all three are being released in right-handed models only to start. Left-handed options will likely follow eventually.
Hogan’s shaft offering remains limited. For the Combo Set and the UiHI’s, there’s the KBS Tour V in S or X, KBS Tour 90 (S,R), True Temper Dynamic Gold (R, S, X), and the UST Recoil (graphite – A, R, S). For the VKTR+, you can choose from the UST Proforce V2 in S, UST Recoil (A, R, S, X), UST Recoil Parallel (A, R), UST Irod Hybrid (R,S), and the Aldila Hybrid in X.
And you can get any grip you want, as long as it’s a black-and-gray Hogan-branded Lamkin Z5 in either standard or midsize.
There’s no up-charge for any shaft option.
“We try to make the online buying process as simple as possible,” says White. “We are getting a lot of requests for some of the newer shaft offerings so we may add some in short order. I don’t want to get into the up-charge thing, though, and we’re not going to offer anything crazy-exotic. If you want that, you can go to Club Champion and get custom fit there.”