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For the fourth write up of the “Classic Club Profile” series I dug out the Hogan Precision Experimentals.

We recently payed respect to the founding of the Ben Hogan Golf Company in 1953 and I believe these clubs to have been produced right around the time of his introductory letter.  Prior to the first commercial release of Hogan Precision irons (the long hoseled “crescents” from 1954-1955), a  small number of prototype irons and woods were stamped “Experimental” and delivered to Mr. Hogan himself for a test drive.  The purpose of these early prototypes was to give Mr. Hogan a chance to evaluate the shape, feel, and quality of the gear he was soon to put his name on.  PGT member and Hogan aficionado drewspin linked these clubs to the following passage in James Dodson’s biography, Ben Hogan: An American Life. The excerpt is taken during a press conference held July 21, 1953 on Hogan’s return trip from his British Open victory at Carnoustie:

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“Hey, Ben. You thinking of buying a ranch like Byron?” someone asked him playfully, producing chuckles around the salon.

“No. But I am going to start making golf clubs,” he explained simply.

The reporters were delighted to have a “scoop.” Heretofore, Hogan had remained maddeningly silent about whatever “significant opportunities” he was pursuing outside tournament golf. A few persistent rumors held that he wanted to start making golf equipment and take on the likes of Spalding, MacGregor and Wilson. But the man himself had never confirmed such daring thinking until this very moment. The scribes couldn’t write fast enough.

“I think I have a revolutionary way of making clubs,” he explained to them that morning at sea. “We have made several experimental models and hope to be in production soon. I expect the factory to be set up in Texas, probably around Fort Worth.”

In fact, as he said this, his company was already up and running at the production facility he and Pollard Simons were setting up on West Pafford Street.

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The most interesting club of the bunch is the 2 iron which has a small, dime sized wear mark in the sweetspot.  Although I could never say for sure, I like to imagine Mr. Hogan grinding away on the range with this very 2 iron.  I treat these clubs more as antiques than golf gear and they are the only set I’ve ever purchased without the intent to play.  For this reason, I can’t provide detail on the sound, feel, or performance of these clubs.  What I can give you is a good impression of the club design with some images of how they set up to the ball.

General thoughts on the clubs:

  • The feel is quite heavy as would be expected with most classic gear
  • The slightest amount of offset is present. In some clubs it’s not even detectable
  • True Temper Rocket shafts (green band) feels stiff/firm
  • Really nice beveled sole and rounded front edge.  These won’t dig nearly as much as a 50′s model MacGregor
  • Short irons are not excessively oversized as you see with some older gear
  • Moderately thick topline

Here are some dead weights, by request(rounded to the nearest 1/4 oz), and a shot of the sole.

In summary, these are simply a classic set of traditional blades that live up the standard Hogan set with his legendary ballstriking.  I wouldn’t hesitate to play this model in modern competition.  Hogan Precisions can be had on ebay anywhere from $50 to $300 depending on condition and there are also the Hogan Personals which tend to go for $500 – $800.

8 Responses to “Classic Club Profile: Hogan Precision “Experimental””

  1. Avatar of Anton Anton says:

    love the shape of precisions and hoping to get a set along with some precision woods at some point. this is like the real muscle back shape with sharp top line. i know people like later apex designs alot but they just aint the same. thanx much for weighting them too! i’m a bit surprised tho as i was expecting them to be way heavier. my primary modern set of forged mb blades with graphite shafts weights nearly exactly the same. its a custom build and shafts are heavy graphite weighting on par with steel but without any additional weight added ie no plugs, tape, anything. another interesting thing is how weight is skewed with these from club to club but thats probably because of all irons designed to be about the same size which is nice, the weight skew isnt. my modern set for comparison is progressive in weight and size tho not by much. my take away from this is it seems that modern forged mb set is on par weight wise unless ultra light shafts are used and there shouldnt be any significant difference ie nothing like huge difference between persimmon and modern drivers in weight. that said you mention another precision model with longer hosel and that macgregor 85 set in your earlier post had longer hosel as well if i recall correctly. dunno how much difference that could add but it gotta add something. anyways, thanx again, great post!

  2. I was surprised at the weights as well Anton. I double checked them but my scale is not calibrated or anything so I was eyeballing it. I’ll calibrate it with some known weights and see if it’s accurate. If it is then I plan to go back and get weights for the other sets I’ve profiled. The certainly “feel” heavy. It is understandable that they bounce around a bit though because the 8 iron clearly has the most volume. The size doesn’t always increase linearly as you progress through the set in these old irons.

    • Avatar of Anton Anton says:

      it might be worth to doublecheck them scales but to be honest i think what you got is fairly accurate. i been thinking about it and it seems to me its kinda hard to get more weight there with classic design. they are small heads, forged which means some sort of carbon steel and there arent that many carbon steels used to forge iron heads but that can make some difference. how many times its struck and what weight is involved when striking can make it more dense again making some weight difference. longer hosels and wider soles and fatter muscles can add some as well but with those kinda blades they cant really go far with that. thicker wall shafts another source of weight. thats why that macgregor 85 set of yours might be interesting to weight for comparison. i’m no metallurgy or manufacturing expect by any means tho so these are just my thoughts and assumptions based on my limited knowledge of subjects involved.

  3. Avatar of Neil - NRG Neil - NRG says:

    Have you had the lofts checked? Hogans don’t usually have much offset, I would guess that someone has had them bent strong.

    Great set to own, am very jealous.

  4. Hello,

    I am new to the forum and have recently come into ownership of a two precision sets . One is “Experimental Set No. S331 ” of Hogan’s Precision irons; the other 1955-56 ( Short Hosel ) . The Experimental set consists of 2-9 iron, but no Equalizer …. would this set of had it or were PW’s purschased separately ?

    thanks

    • The experimental sets were produced before the company was selling any gear. They were provided to Mr. Hogan to get his direct feedback prior to going live with commercial operations. I suspect that none of the experimental sets had an equalizer and if they were provided as 2-9 there would have been no way to purchase an equalizer separately at that time. Once the Precisions were released commercially, I’m pretty sure they would have been sold as 2-9 with the equalizer a separate add on.

      • I suspect you are right I have seen a couple of experimental sets on the internet over the last few months and all have been 2-9 irons.

        As an aside does anyone know how many of these experimental sets were made ? So far I have seen serial numbers ; S331, S431, & S531 ……

  5. Avatar of Jeff Stern Jeff Stern says:

    As we near the 60th anniversay of Hogan’s triple crown, these intact sets of BH ‘experimental’ irons should start rising in collectors value. My understanding is that most of the first production run of Hogan branded clubs were destroyed at Ben’s direction as not meeting his standards for quality. The fact that you have examples of pre-production clubs is extrordinary good providence. Thanks for sharing, Jeff.

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