Black finishes are de rigueur in 2019. Adding a black finish to a model in the second year of its life cycle is a min-trend for OEMs. It doesn’t require any serious R&D, is relatively easy to do, and it gives a little boost to sales in the second year of a product’s life-cycle.
And depending on your point of view, it’s either badass eye-candy or a cynical cash-grab by means of putting a new dress on an old girl.
Ben Hogan’s new release – a black version of its three-month-old PTx PRO irons – is most definitely the former but we can say with some certainty it’s most definitely not the latter.
Paint It Black
Black versions of existing irons are most definitely a Hogan thing. It started last year with a black version of the Ft. Worth 15 blade and continued earlier this year with a black version of the Equalizer wedges. Heck, even Hogan’s putters are black.
The retro-looking PTx Pro’s were released this past April. When viewed through the lens of a traditional OEM product cycle, the timing of a black version seems a little premature. But as Hogan constantly reminds us, they insist on being anything but traditional.
As with its other black models, Hogan is using Diamond Black Metal (DBM) as its finish. DBM is unique in that it’s not a plating or a coating but is actually embedded into the iron itself. It’s roughly seven times more durable than PVD (which is most commonly used by other OEMs and, truth be told, holds up fairly well) and about a jillion times more durable than black oxide or black nickel (which tend to wear off on the way to your first driving range session). Maltby and Cobra also use DBM.
Price, Availability and HoganFit
Hogan is most definitely finding a niche in the golf world. Hogan’s direct-to-consumer pricing should make any budget-minded golfer giggle with glee, and with this spring’s release of its Precision Milled putter line and the GS53 driver and metal woods, Hogan now offers a full line of product. The challenge Hogan – and other factory direct companies, such as Sub 70 – face is two-fold: how can I demo and how do I get fit?
Hogan (along with Sub 70 and Bridgestone) offers a two-week demo program. For twenty bucks, Hogan will ship you a couple of irons (or wedges, or driver and fairway metal) to demo for two weeks. No, it’s not walking into a retailer and whacking a couple of shots into a launch monitor, but you do get to try them for 14 days on your home course and driving range.
As for fitting, if you already have your specs from a fitting, Hogan will custom-build you a set to those specs (within its limited array of shafts, of course). In the past several weeks, Hogan has also unveiled an online fitting tool called HoganFit. It asks a handful of questions (gender, age, height, arm length, 7-iron carry and roll distances, tempo, typical divot) and makes a recommendation. Currently, HoganFit can fit you for irons, wedges, utility irons, and hybrids (driver and fairway metal fitting is listed as Coming Soon). No, it’s not a 2-hour session with a Top-100 club fitter, but if you’re an experienced golfer and have a general idea of your swing and what you like and want, it will get you moving in the right direction.
The new PTx PRO black irons are available now on the Hogan website, and 4-PW set will run you $805.00. For that price, you get your choice of KBS Tour V, KBS Tour, True Temper Dynamic Gold or UST Mamiya Recoil (there’s no upcharge for graphite). You can also order 5-PW or 6-PW if that’s how you roll.
Hogan tells us the PTx PRO in black is available in extremely limited quantities. It’s fair to assume, based on Hogan’s history, if these sell out quickly the black versions will eventually wind up as a standard offering.