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There are a few nice composites of Hogan offerings drifting around the web.  I’ve shown one above that covers 1953 – 1999.  A few models are not shown.  I think the clubs are better appreciated with some context so I’ve copied an excerpt from the Maltby Golf Club Identification and Price Guide IV.  At the end, you’ll find another compilation of Hogan irons (with specs) in .pdf form.  Hopefully this is enough to put aspiring collectors on the right track and document / preserve half a century of engineering and craftsmanship from Hogan/AMF.

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After the tremendous success of the 1953 tournament year, Hogan began to cut back on his playing schedule.   For a long time he had the desire to start a truly top notch golf club equipment company to produce simply “the finest clubs ever made.”  Thus, in December of 1953 a statement was issued by Hogan: “We have organized a company for the purpose of manufacturing and selling golf clubs.  Our every effort in the manufacturing process will be devoted to attaining the optimum in quality and playability.”  Hogan had previously approached his longtime friend, Marvin Leonard, with this idea who in turn interested a  fellow entrepreneur from Dallas, Pollard Simons.  Leonard and Simons both were wealthy real estate and business developers who offered some of the financial backing needed to start the new company.  With his, Leonard’s and Simon’ money, Hogan immediately went to work developing the company.  A former plumbing shop was purchased at 2912 West Pafford St. in Fort Worth, not far from the Colonial Country Club.  Hogan himself jumped into all phases of the business.  He designed the club head masters, conceived the machinery ideas for his engineers to build, and planned the marketing approaches.  Countless hours were spent developing the early production, but midway through 1954, still not a single club had been completed for sale.  None of the prototypes were suitable to Hogan, and the company was spending thousands of dollars with none coming back in return.  Pollard Simons began to get nervous about his part of the investment and expressed a great deal of concern as to the potential of a return on his money.  Leonard, never doubting the judgement of Hogan, contacted Simons and offered to buy out his share of the company.  The nervous Simons readily agreed and thus dissolved his association with the company. 

Finally feeling that the production problems had been worked out, the company began to manufacture the Precision line of woods and the Ben Hogan Saber irons in late summer of 1954.  Orders had been booked and the company was desperate to fill these orders.  However, Hogan took a look at the first major production runs and made a decision that only he could make: the clubs were not up to his standards and over $100,000 worth of equipment was ordered destroyed.  Seemingly without batting an eye, Hogan went back to work and with a tremendous amount of effort from his employees, the company finally began to manufacture golf clubs which were suitable to Hogan’s standards.  The first sets of Ben Hogan golf clubs were shipped in response.  Thus in a very similar comparison to his playing career, the Ben Hogan Golf Company had overcome tremendous obstacles to establish a foothold in the national golf industry.

Tremendous growth and the demand for Ben Hogan golf clubs brought about four separate plant expansions before 1959, all occurring at the West Pafford address.   Such growth attracted attention from corporations looking to increase the size of their holdings.  Sports-related companies were becoming popular additions to corporate portfolios in the late 1950′s.  The Brunswick Corporation had acquired the large MacGregor Golf Company.  In a similar but unrelated move, the American Machine and Foundry Corporation made an offer to acquire the Ben Hogan Company.  Being assured that he would retain total control of his company, Hogan agreed to sell and in 1960, AMF took over the Ben hogan golf Company.  As part of the agreement with AMF, Hogan was required to continue playing occasional tournament events to promote the company’s products, which he did until 1967.  Without a doubt, the legend of the golfer Ben Hogan was in large part responsible for the success being experienced by the Ben Hogan Golf Company.  Still, equipment design, innovation and quality played heavily in the overall success and the company was responsible for several development contributions to the manufacture of modern golf clubs.  Always trying to achieve a more playable golf shaft, Hogan developed and introduced a faster reactive carbon steel, standard weight shaft called the Flash Reaction shaft in 1961.  Up to this time most of the manufacturers had been content to offer common shaft patterns in their equipment. 

The Hogan Flash Reaction shaft became one of the industry’s first proprietary golf shafts, and paved the way fore the other manufacturers to follow suit.  Further research, with assistance from AMF engineer Dr. Fred Dunkerly, resulted in the golf industry’s first production alloy-added lightweight steel shaft, the Ben Hogan Apex shaft which was introduced in 1969.    A lightweight, yet firm-tipped shaft with a fast recovery time, the Apex was expanded into five separate flexes and has become the second largest selling private label shaft in golf.  Further Ben Hogan Company Shaft refinements and developments consequently produced the Ben Hogan Legend shaft, which became the golf industry’s first oversize butt, super lightweight shaft.  Never before had the total weight of an assembled golf club been dropped this low, and after overcoming some minor stress-related problems with the shaft, the company experienced minor success with this offering.  Hogan’s devotion to shaft improvement has been so strong that since 1961, the company has never offered a common pattern shaft as part of their production.

Club head developments also occupied  a major portion of the Hogan Company’s achievements in the golf industry.  The famous “Speed-Slot” toe groove on their woods appeared midway through the 1957 season and has been a permanent feature of almost every Hogan top-line wood ever since.  Developing woods which would play well from all lies became a major concern of the company, so in 1963 they introduced the “Curved-Sole” design which greatly increased the sole radius of their woods.  The year 1982 saw another innovative sole design change with the Radial 3.5 model, the first woods to offer a 4-way sole radius.  Hogan himself felt that the feel of the golf club was all-important, and it was this belief that led to the proprietary development of the 70% cycolac / 30% glass composite face inserts which still are used today in Hogan woods.  Steeped in tradition, the Ben Hogan company has only produced one investment cast stainless steel iron in their entire history.  The Producer iron, which was introduced ion 1975 was a hard-chromed, stainless steel iron.  This is remarkable in view of the number of major golf companies who have never manufactured anything but investment cast irons.  The fact that the company was able to virtually ignore the investment cast boom of the early 1970′s while continuing their growth stands as a tribute to the high level of quality and the devotion to traditional designs characteristic of the Ben Hogan Golf Company.

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Hogan Iron History <– Download Link

6 Responses to “A History of Hogan Irons”

  1. Avatar of Blade Junkie Blade Junkie says:

    Such a shame that the Hogan company is no more.

    I’ve been adding a few Hogan sets/irons to my fledgeling club collection over the last few months, as follows:
    1957 Precision 2-Iron (Slazenger branded)
    1967 Percussion Centre 7 (not pictured on the chart) 2-E
    1971 Round Sole Equalizer
    1972 Apex 1-Iron (Slazenger branded)
    1979 Apex II 2-E, Special SW
    1984 Apex PC 2-E, Sure Out SW
    1988 Apex Redline 2-E
    1994 Apex Forged Ft Worth 3-SW
    1999 Apex (2-E)
    2006 Apex (not on chart) 3-E

    Total outlay £413 for the winning bids, and £158 for postage/customs fees etc etc so a total of about £571 for 7 great sets of irons (3 of them are absolutely mint and have probably been played for no more than 6 rounds each) Got to love eBay !
    I suppose I could instead have bought a brand new set of Mizuno MP69s for £699, as advertised today on the UK direct-golf website …

  2. Avatar of Anton Anton says:

    another great post, thanx! just to share something related here and most people have probably seen this already but here is the article about 1999 Hogan Apex blades from the guy who designed them as well as put together the photographic chart of Hogan blades you see at the top of this blog post. interesting read http://www.mygolfspy.com/1999-hogan-apex-blades/

  3. Avatar of Hot soup Hot soup says:

    Does anyone have an equivalent history of Hogan woods? Information regarding the woods produced and a timeline of manufacture seems to be relatively sparse on the Internet relative to the information available about the irons.

  4. Geez, haven’t looked at this post in a while – about a million spelling mistakes – sloppy!

    More to the point: If there is one out there I haven’t seen it…let me take a look tonight and see what I can come up with.

  5. Avatar of Blade Junkie Blade Junkie says:

    Hot Soup – I’d suggest getting hold of a copy of The Golf Club Identification & Price Guide IV (1950 to 1998) by The Golfworks http://www.golfworks.com/product.asp?pn=GCID4 for $14.99. I’ve not seen anything better than this for info on Hogan woods and wedges. Lacking in pictures in places but the descriptions of clubs per year are quote good. Plus you get all the other golf manufacturers as well !

    There is a guy on Golfwrx in the classic forum who apparently has copies of all the Hogan Marketing catalogues since year dot, and keeps threatening to write the definitive Hogan club book, like the Kaplan one that exists for MacGregor. Not sure if he’s actually going to do it, but I’d love to scan all that material for him and get it all online!

    • Avatar of Hot soup Hot soup says:

      Blade Junkie –

      I definitely need to pick up a copy of that book. I have the Macgregor and Wilson books by Kaplan, but I am disappointed that one doesn’t exist for Hogan (and to a lesser extent, Spalding). I hope that the person who has all of the catalogs scans them at some point; information is relatively scant for Hogan collectors/fans, especially, as you pointed out, for the woods and wedges. I think Hogan made some excellent wood/wedge shapes. I would love to start hunting for some more if I knew what was out there!

      Hot Soup

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