Ben Hogan is a name that those young and old with some understanding of the game of golf will recognize, quite literally a legendary name. There was a time when Mr. Hogan and the Ben Hogan Golf Company went hand in hand with high performance and beautiful equipment and were key players in the industry. As time went on the brand faded but now it has been resurrected with a back-to-roots type of approach from their CEO and President Terry Koehler. As such, the brand is back in Texas and intent on once again bringing high quality equipment to golfers everywhere, and that begins with their new Ft. Worth 15 irons and TK 15 wedges.
Information from Ben Hogan Golf:
FT. WORTH 15 IRONS
When Mr. Hogan started his company in 1953, he did so to “design and manufacture the best clubs in golf” with “the most exacting tolerances.” With the FT. WORTH 15 irons bearing the “Ben Hogan” name raises the bar once again.
Forged from premium 1025 Carbon Steel, these new irons incorporate a number of industry-first technologies to give more golfers a level of precision never before seen in the game.
TK 15 WEDGES
Modern’ wedges bear a puzzling similarity to those dating all the way back to the 1950s, the ones Ben Hogan said should not be hit over 40 yards. (This from a man who was known to hit his driver 300+.) What Mr. Hogan knew was that the heavy bottom and thin upper face caused very inconsistent distances with full swings.
That insight inspired us to completely re-engineer the design of wedges to make them much better at full shots than any other wedge you can play. And we built in even more innovations to make sure they were more versatile around the greens than the wedges currently in your bag.
Stock Shaft Options:
KBS Tour-V (Steel)
|MANUFACTURER||FLEX||SHAFT WEIGHT||TORQUE||KICK POINT|
KBS Tour 90 (Steel)
|MANUFACTURER||FLEX||SHAFT WEIGHT||TORQUE||KICK POINT|
UST Mamiya 660/680 (Graphite)
|MANUFACTURER||FLEX||SHAFT WEIGHT||TORQUE||KICK POINT|
Key Technology Breakdown:
With the new Ben Hogan irons and wedges being such a departure from the current trends of golf equipment design it definitely makes it worthwhile to take a more focused look at some of the specific aspects that the company believes sets them apart.
- “Perimeter Weighting Redefined”
Ben Hogan golf is very pointed on the topic of perimeter weighting and what they believe versus the current trend of the industry. They believe that perimeter weighting has gone too far and that amidst the focus on expanding it in order to increase the forgiveness there has been too much mass removed from behind the ball. The belief here is that there is a blend that should be reached, and by maintaining a certain amount of mass directly behind the primary impact point you “keep more energy where it counts” in order to maintain consistency they believe modern irons are negating. This ideology is illustrated on each of the Hogan irons by the “dimple” on the rear of the club, this varies throughout the set. For example, in the longer irons this is more visible and larger because those irons need more perimeter weighting, whereas in the scoring irons it is much more subtle.
- “Progressive Weighting”
The company is also arguing that the trend by major OEM’s to have all irons in a set look the same, is actually hindering performance. The basic premise is that the loft and function of a 3-iron and a PW are fundamentally different, and as such Ben Hogan Golf believes they should also look different. As mentioned before, the Ft. Worth 15 irons all feature a slight cavity that varies in size from the long irons to the scoring irons, but they also vary pretty significantly in sole width as well. In the TK 15 wedges there is a lack of “cavity” that the irons feature, but the size does change in each wedge vertically as well as horizontally to improve strikes high on the wedge as well as stretching the weight to the heel and toe depending on the loft. In all, the company believes this helps them optimize the trajectories for each loft from 20° to 63° in ways that couldn’t be achieved with a set in which all of the clubs are identical in their general design.
- Preciseloft System
Arguably the largest emphasis of the Ben Hogan Golf company with the new irons and wedges comes back to the lofts. The reason for offering every single loft from 20° to 63° is because the company believes current releases and designs have led to lofts and playing lengths being compressed leading to gaping and performance issues. The goal here is based around the company’s belief that all clubs should be based on 4° gaps in order to provide more consistency all the way throughout the set, finite control in order to maximize performance. In order to further accentuate the importance, they also have elected to stamp lofts on each of the clubs rather than iron numbers which is certainly an outside the box approach.
Both the Ft. Worth 15 irons and TK 15 wedges also feature a V-Sole throughout the set, a familiar design feature from both Eidolon and SCOR wedges in which the CEO/President of Ben Hogan Golf, Terry Koehler, also ran. The sole is billed as being one of the most versatile around. It features a high bounce on the leading edge and a lower bounce on the main portion of the sole. Because lies on the course vary, the variable bounce sole allows the clubs to react accordingly based on the different lies. The V-Sole has garnered a lot of positive feedback in its previous iterations and several major OEM’s have even tried to imitate it. It basically serves to help make a demanding profile at least a bit more playable for a wider range of skill levels.
The new Ben Hogan irons and wedges are an interesting setup aesthetically speaking. There will certainly be two schools of thought with them, one side will consider them classic and clean harkening back to and fitting of the name on them, while the other will likely view them as being relatively simple.
As discussed in the technology breakdown above, weighting is a key point for the new Hogan irons and as such the physical profiles of them do vary throughout the set. No matter the weighting principles used however, these are MB irons, and as such when you look at the long irons both in hand and at address they feature a butter-knife like sole that will be loved by some and at the same time scare others. As the set progresses, even though they maintain a slim topline as well as a very compact heel-to-toe blade length, they visually get much more comfortable for a wider range.
Where finish and engraving are concerned, the irons/wedge have two main focal points, the numbered lofts on the soles, and the classic Ben Hogan script. The lofts are much discussed and will be entirely personal where preference goes, but it definitely differentiates the set from every other one out there right now, a good thing for the company whether it is a hit with people or not. With a satin finish and face milling, which is pretty much identical to that which was on the SCOR wedges, they remain simple and clean in hand and at address, but more importantly this is yet another trait that allows all focus to remain exactly where it should be, on that classic black and red Hogan script.
For this article THP reviewers went through the HoganFit program in order to be fit to the setup which best fits the needs of the golfer while also aligning with the principles that the Ben Hogan company believes in with this release. This reviewer was fit into eleven clubs, all in four-degree gaps, from 20° to 60° paired with KBS Tour-V shafts.
While it is well established that sound/feel is the most personal aspect of any iron, it is also often one of the most focused on when it comes to a muscleback type forged club like the Hogan’s. Overall both the irons and wedges really did offer a solid amount of feedback throughout the entire set. At no point was there a sensation of being overly muted, but at the same time the design does well to also avoid the harsh high pitched click you sometimes see in a muscleback. While the range of punishment (tactile) from heel and toe side misses does vary from the long irons into the wedges (most harsh in the long irons) it really was nowhere near as harsh as anticipated given the profile. There is definitely merit here to the weighting used in the set. Misses are always easily identifiable and the feedback certainly is in line with what players who lean towards players irons look for. There has been some discussion about the removal of material in the center of the rear flange of the iron in order to allow for some perimeter weighting and if it will adversely affect that “forged blade feel” on center strikes, and for this user there was no such issue.
- Ball Flight and Trajectory
Where ball-flight is concerned, the Hogan irons and wedges launched surprisingly high given their profile. It is definitely a plus here in terms of aiding the playability of the set. Overall this reviewer saw peak heights hovering at or above 30 yards for the majority of the set, though in the long irons (20/24/28) it was a good bit lower than that mark which both comes back to personal swing traits/ability as well as the extremely slim sole/profile of those clubs.
Even with the high launch angles the flight through the set worked nicely to their apex, and more importantly offered a good descent angle without being too flat or steep. Holding greens were not an issue and in fact the scoring irons, and particularly the TK 15 wedges, showed some really fun action on shots into greens. Additionally, the set offered lower spin rates than anticipated for an MB, and though we definitely know that shaft is going to play a role here with the Tour-V just as the individual swing will, it is definitely still worth noting and a positive aspect for this reviewer.
Workability is another trait which bears mentioning given that it is one of the things we hear so often about as being “superior” in a muscleback style iron. While all clubs can be flighted and manipulated, it definitely is easier to accentuate the flighting in a small and lean profiled club like this. The TK 15 wedge in particular really shined here showing a ton of versatility for a variety of different shots. They really might be the stars of this line and it would not be a surprise to see more wedges sell over time than irons, but that is just one reviewers opinion.
- Distance and Forgiveness:
Clearly, when dealing with a true players type club, distance is going to be a concern for many as traditionally, by design differences alone, there is going to be a drop-off from GI/SGI type designs. With that said, the Ben Hogan company has put a lot of emphasis on the effectiveness of their different perimeter and progressive weighting techniques to try and find a way to keep the precision of a traditional players/MB type iron while showing that distance does not have to be a forgone conclusion.
For this reviewer testing throughout the set showed that the ball-speeds on center strikes were higher than anticipated, not the highest mind you, but on par with a lot of current releases in this classification as well as several GI designs. These ball speeds equated to solid overall distances that should please the type of players who will gravitate towards a set like this. With all that said, it has to be kept in mind that no matter how the weighting is manipulated or the lofts are optimized, these are muscleback style irons, not cavity backs, and as such misses are definitely penalized. The highest drop-offs in ball-speed were seen heel and toe side, while strikes low on the face actually responded the most playable of the different miss locations.
While the ball-speed situation was somewhat expected, the overall dispersion was not. Without a doubt, this was the most impressive area for this reviewer during testing, both in terms of general misses maintaining their intended line, but also through the turf interaction from various lies as well as heavy strikes. The V-Sole really is one of the best sole designs out there, and it performed as such allowing for consistent turf interaction from hardpan, saturated turf, and everything else in between. The key here is always going to be the ability to put the club on the back of the ball, and though some may struggle there and suffer some definite distance loss, the fact that the misses are not over-accentuated left or right definitely helps their playablity.
The Ben Hogan Company clearly has a well-defined ideology for what they feel is the “right” way to produce the most effective and playable equipment possible under standards which they feel that Mr. Hogan himself would approve. The Ft. Worth 15 irons and TK 15 wedges are classic, clean, elegant, and yet at the same time they technologically push the edge of what we know a true players profile to be in terms of playability and performance. Although a significant argument can be made to some of the ideologies the company has towards perimeter weighting, they have clearly identified a way that works for what they want to accomplish. However, there is no denying that these are not going to be an iron for everyone, there is still a level of demand here that may give up too much for a large portion of the spectrum. With that said though, for those who gravitate to and prefer a players profile should definitely be pleased with what the return of the brand has brought to the table.
The Ben Hogan Fort Worth 15 irons and TK15 wedges are priced at $149.00 per club and are available in every single loft from 20° to 63°. More information on the new Ben Hogan line can be found on their website, www.BenHoganGolf.com.