Ben Hogan Golf Clubs–A Love Story

I play Ben Hogan Apex 50 irons. They are the Rolls Royce of blades. They have wonderful balance, the solid hits feel great, and they are so beautiful you can take one out and just look at it–just admire it. And now they’re history.

In 2003, I was taking a golf lesson using my Wilson irons from 1962 (!) and the pro said, quite plainly, that I had to get new equipment. Period. That’s a lot of money to spend when I could still hit them, but I suppose he had a point. You should upgrade maybe every 40 years.

So I went to a pro shop and tested about nine different sets of irons. The Hogans felt like they were made with me in mind and they were so beautiful! Modern irons are amazing technological feats, but they look like they were designed by scientists. Not the Apex’s. Such simple elegance in a tool that is so supremely functional.

The set came as 3-E and for some reason I ordered a 2-iron as well. Just had to have one, I guess.

What’s an E? Hogan called his pitching wedge his equalizer since he because he believed the wedge completed or “Equalized” the set.

Every now and then on the course, someone will see them and sigh. A deep sigh. And they’ll say, “I had those once,” as if they wish they still had them.

As for how they play, the ball works in a partnership with the club, and the square hits feel buttery. That’s the only word I can think of, but ask anyone who plays Hogan irons and they’ll use the same word, unprompted. It’s a wonderful feeling in your hands.

There was a period in the early 2000s when the Hogan playing staff was a pretty good set of golfers. Monty, Tom Kite, and Justin Leonard played them, and I think Jim Furyk did, too.

But I noticed that one by one, Hogan staffers were switching to a different brand of clubs. I was reading articles in trade magazines about financial difficulties with the Hogan brand and that the product didn’t appeal to today’s recreational golfer. After all, manufacturers don’t make their bucks from the pros, but by selling their clubs to you and me.

Callaway purchased the Hogan line in 2004, and stopped making the clubs in 2008. These magnificent clubs are now in the past, but you can go on the web and still find new sets of Apex Edge irons for sale. Good luck finding the Apex model.

The Hogan influence is still with us, though. I went to a Nike demo day last summer and the rep asked me what irons I played. I told him the Hogan Apex’s, and he gave a 4-iron and said, “Try this one.”

Amazing. It felt just like my Hogans. When I mentioned this to him, he said, “I thought you’d like it. The guy who designed it used to work for Hogan.”

So if my Apex’s ever wear out, I know where I’ll go for my next set. The trouble is they’ll have the feel, but not the look–that classic look that belongs in a museum of fine art.



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