The new Ben Hogan Golf has been on a roll lately, and it doesn’t seem to be stopping anytime soon as they have found their niche in the ever growing direct to consumer market. If you have been reading THP for any amount of time, then you have undoubtedly seen the feedback and reviews on their recent releases like the ICON irons as well as the GS53 driver review. The nice thing is they haven’t sat on their hands idly like they could have, instead they are not just creating new product, but clubs that make the game more enjoyable for golfers.
Recently, we saw the release of a new driver for Ben Hogan Golf, the GS53 Max. I was able to get the 10.5° head paired with a Project X HZRDUS Smoke Black 6.0 in for this review and having written the previously mentioned review on the GS53, I can assure you that this is not just a more forgiving rehash. This is something different, and potentially special for Ben Hogan Golf.
Maybe no better bang for your buck modern driver out there. The GS53 was a solid driver, but this is precisely what the new Ben Hogan company has needed from the driver spot. It may be a little boisterous, but it is also shockingly forgiving and truly a low spinner. Look, playability, distance, and value are all here.
Ben Hogan GS53 Max Driver
Yes, when you add the designation “Max” to any driver most of us immediately clue into what the expectations should be. That is also the case here with the GS53 Max driver…kind of.
The company is touting this one as having a classic shape that Mr. Hogan himself would approve of, and they’re not wrong as it has got curves in all the right places giving a profile shape that harkens back to the days of yore. That said, I still think Mr. Hogan might be shocked to look down at a it.
At 460cc the GS53 Max is 15cc larger than the GS53, and while on paper that doesn’t seem like much, in hand it definitely is noticeable. With the Max, the fact that they increased the size and depth of the face (22% according to the company) means that the increase of the address profile still stayed clean and not at all game-improvement feeling.
Internally the company is adamant that this is not just a refresh of the GS53, rather this is a totally new design built from the ground up and simply aesthetically designed to align with the previous wood releases. The look is good as well, there is nothing about this one in hand that people will be able to nitpick in terms of quality, it is as good as anything out there. Sure, its not as busy as a lot of drivers, but it is absolutely classically in line with Ben Hogan, historically. Not to mention, the mirrored BH logo as an alignment aid is gorgeous.
Before we get into performance, we need to discuss what is going on under the hood. The GS53 Max is a 4-piece design consisting of a combination of titanium, tungsten, and carbon throughout. The fact that Hogan is now in the game with a composite crown opens up all sorts of design potential with the weight savings that could be placed elsewhere, namely a tungsten weight low and back to increase launch for all swing speeds as well as along the perimeter to improve stability. They have also implemented the classic Ben Hogan “Speed Slot” to the rear of the club increasing the aerodynamics without taking away from the clean look with abstract humps and bumps (technical terminology) on the crown. Combine these things with the larger face using an improved bulge and roll to mitigate gear effect on heel/toe misses as well as an improved variable thickness and you have a driver built for the masses on paper. But what about on the course?
I expected the increase in stability, and definitely got it. The GS53 was and is a driver that is capable of impressive speeds and significant workability, but with that comes more penalizing results depending on your skill level and miss. The new Max however, turned out to be a club that just wants to stay in play, can it be sliced or hooked off the planet, of course, but on standard misses it rattled my brain with what I got away with. A big part of this was the fact that using the Foresight GC2 I was not seeing massive spin variances on my miss either heel or toe, only a couple hundred RPM in comparison to the GS53 where I remember those misses being much more significant. Because of the stability at impact, the confidence was there when I was on the course and had to hit a specific shot to a specific angle or landing area even knowing I had a winter swing with me. That is a massive compliment to the GS53 Max.
At impact, I will say my one slight criticism of the driver is that to my ears it isn’t as pleasant of a sound/feel at impact as the GS53 was. Coming in, I was actually expecting a much more muted sound given the carbon fiber application on the crown, but it instead has come out a little more boisterous with a metallic undertone. Its not what I would call a loud driver, but it also isn’t as muted as much of what we see on the market today. It’ll turn some heads when you hit it, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
For the potential of this one, I would call it staggeringly impressive. Why? Yes, it was forgiving, but the thing I didn’t expect despite the early feedback from THP’ers in the community was just how low spin it was for me. Though not necessarily the setup I would have expected to be fit into, the 10.5° head paired with the 6.0 HZRDUS Smoke Black generated a 15.7° overall average launch on the Foresight GC2 paired with spin coming in at 2,180 RPM. Add in ball speeds even with my winter swing sitting around 156 MPH (peak MPH at 161) and you have a driver that not only launched higher than the GS53 for me by a long shot, but was also significantly lower spinning on average by about 300 RPM. Before the spin talk scares you, paired with the launch I was seeing meant carry for days and also making the spin amply playable on the course. What I saw here was not at all what I expected, Ben Hogan Golf managed to surprise me, and that doesn’t happen very often.
Overall, at $355.00 this is a driver that absolutely deserves a look if you are looking for a new driver but not keen on dropping $600.00 anytime soon. Not only did the performance stack up for me, but it also offers the same adjustability as many with the “Flight Control” hosel allowing +/- 1° as well as loft/lie alterations and maintaining the shaft orientation. Plus, Ben Hogan Golf may have coined my new favorite phrase when it comes to stock shafts, assuring that the HZRDUS Smoke Black, Tensei Blue, and Helium options are premium, and not “value engineered”.
There is a lot of bang for your buck here, and hopefully be it through purchase or the Ben Hogan demo program we see it get into the hands of some golfers for more feedback. If you plan on or have already given the GS53 MAX a go, jump into the conversation here or on the THP community and let us hear what you think!
Availability: Now – www.BenHoganGolf.com
Options: 9° and 10.5° – RH Only
Shafts: Project X HZRDUS Smoke Black 60 (5.5, 6.0, 6.5), Mitsubishi Tensei Blue 60 (R, S, X), UST Mamiya Helium (F3, F4, F5)