Lost in the PGA Show shuffle last week was this news nugget: the Ben Hogan Company has reached a partnership deal with Club Champion. Ben Hogan club heads will be included in Club Champion’s fitting program nationwide.
The deal is the first step towards solving one of Hogan’s biggest problems.
“Over the last two years, we’ve had consumers call us on a regular basis, asking where they can get a proper fitting,” Hogan CEO Scott White tells MyGolfSpy. “That’s been one of our Achilles’ heels. Now a consumer can go to Club Champion and really go through the process from top to bottom. And if they so choose Ben Hogan Equipment, they’ll have the clubs built right there by Club Champion.”
Hogan Fitter Program
While the Club Champion partnership is a big deal for Hogan, it certainly isn’t exclusive. Hogan is bringing more accounts into the fold with its new 2020 Club Fitters and Builders Program wherein accredited fitters/builders can buy components directly from Hogan.
“I think fitters are a growing part of the business,” says White. “Golf equipment has gotten more expensive – in some cases, irresponsibly so. People want to make sure they’re properly fit before plunking down $700 for a driver or $1,400 for a set of irons. We recognize that and are trying to be part of that equation.”
White says there’s no formal application for fitters but, to be accredited, the fitter has to meet certain industry standards.
“We’ll have a sales agreement,” he says. “They’ll have to be a legitimate fitter with a physical location to do business in.”
Club Champion, as the largest club-fitting retailer in the U.S., certainly checks those boxes. Hogan says it’s in the process of expanding its network and will list participating fitters on its website.
More Club Fitters, More Options
The move is a fairly big step for Hogan but White insists the company won’t be moving away from its direct-to-consumer formula.
“That’s still going to be our core business,” he says. “A lot of customers know their specs and go on to our website and order that way. We custom build their clubs and send them out.”
Alternatively, says White, customers can get fitted by their local pro or fitter and send the spec sheet into Hogan. The new program is basically formalizing the relationship between Hogan and the fitter. It also makes things a little easier for Hogan, since the fitter is doing the build.
“This option takes it out of our hands a little bit, which is fine,” says White. “We’ll provide the components to the accredited club fitter and they’ll do the builds. The relationship will be less between the golfer and Ben Hogan and more between the golfer and the club fitter.”
White says the new program won’t affect Hogan’s DTC pricing structure at all. What you pay at the fitter will depend on what kind of a build you get. Items such as upgraded shafts and grips will add to your cost, as will services such as shaft SST PUREing or custom stamping. Hogan has expanded its shaft offerings since its return but the new program opens up the fitter’s entire array of shaft options, many of which aren’t available through Hogan.
Where Can I Demo?
It’s still early days, so don’t be surprised if you can’t find a fitter near you. If that’s the case, Hogan still has its online demo program. For 20 bucks, Hogan will send you a couple of clubs to try for a couple of weeks.
“We offer every shaft we sell – steel options, graphite options, different shafts for driver and fairway wood,” says White. “Take it to your course or driving range and try it before you buy.”
It’s not a unique program (Bridgestone, Sub70, and Wilson offer similar plans) but it is a different way to demo clubs and we all know how we golfers embrace “different.” The question, however, is: What is your ideal demo experience? Is it hitting real golf shots on a real course for two weeks? Or is it whacking a handful of shots at your local retailer or a local ball-beaters convention (a.k.a. the multi-OEM demo day)?
That’s up to you.
Another Step Forward
The new new Ben Hogan is taking the path the old new Ben Hogan should have taken when it first launched nearly five years ago. The company’s original grandiose plans to work exclusively with fitters quickly fizzled and it couldn’t gain any meaningful traction with retailers. Since its re-return, Hogan has slowly built its business via the DTC route to the point where it feels it can handle this kind of jump.
Hogan launched three major new products in 2019. The GS53 driver and fairway woods, the PTx Pro irons and the Precision Milled Putter line make Hogan a full-bag provider again – a status that no doubt makes the fitter program more attractive. White says 2020 will be even busier.
“By the end of this year, our product line will be completely overhauled from two years ago,” says White. “There will be some interesting new product in the new few weeks and some more in the springtime. It’s a pretty robust product launch schedule for the new season.”
For more information, visit BenHoganGolf.com