08 July, 2011
History of Ben Hogan Irons
Ben Hogan, one of the greatest golfers in the history of the sport, brought the same focus he had on the course to his Ben Hogan Golf Company. Dissatisfied with the quality of equipment that was manufactured at the time, he was determined to "make the best golf clubs in the world" by using "the most exacting tolerances modern machinery would allow." The Ben Hogan Golf Company became renowned for its blade irons, in particular, which are considered to be the epitome of irons for golf purists.
Ben Hogan Golf was founded in 1953 by Hogan and two friends. It was an auspicious year to start the company, since Hogan won five out of six tournaments in 1953, including the Masters, U.S. Open and British Open. As Golfio says, "Ben Hogan Golf has always stood for exceptional golf equipment." In 1968, Hogan teamed up with his designers to produce the Apex shaft, which was softer in the long irons and firmer in the short irons and considered by many to be the most consistent shaft in the game.
The first Apex iron set was introduced in 1972. It was a compact blade with a thick muscleback, designed for the best players. The Apex was slightly redesigned a number of times in the 1970s and 1980s, but the basic concept was the same -- to create a set of irons with the best feel and playability. In those years, the Apex was almost useless to higher handicappers, since the blade had a small sweet spot and no forgiveness was built in for mishits.
Ben Hogan Golf changed hands a number of times. It was sold to Spalding in 1997 and to Callaway in 2003. In 1999, the Apex Plus was introduced, a blade forged from 1030 carbon steel. In 2001, the Ben Hogan name was finally put on an oversized club with a cavity back, an iron made with the middle to high handicapper in mind. Hogan who died in 1997, may have spun in his grave at the thought of his name being stamped on clubs designed for weekend duffers.
In 2003, the year that Callaway purchased Ben Hogan Golf, Jim Furyk won the U.S. Open with a set of Hogan irons. A fiftieth-year anniversary set of Apex irons, a limited edition of 1,953 sets, was released to commemorate the founding of Ben Hogan Golf. But Callaway discontinued the Ben Hogan line in 2008. By then, even a number of touring pros were playing with game improvement clubs, and the market for purists' clubs had waned. But Hogan irons retained their cachet. In 2010 you could look at the Blade Golf Irons site, dedicated to true blades, and find the Ben Hogan Apex Blade Irons ranked second on the list of best blades.
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