Hogan’s Heroic Return

The Fort Worth 15 irons have brought the iconic Hogan brand back from the brink of extinction.

Somewhere in your basement, attic or garden shed is a rusting, long-forgotten set of Hogan Edge or Hogan Apex irons. Heck, there may even be a set of less iconic Hogan Radials, or even more obscure Hogan Medallions. You loved them like a child, and played your best-ever golf with them. You can still feel the exquisite sensation of catching a ball flush with a forged Apex blade.

You had no reason ever to switch brands. You were a Hogan user for life, and no amount of fancy club cosmetics and in-your-face marketing by other manufacturers was ever going to change that.

But it all started unraveling in 2003 when Top-Flite—which owned the Ben Hogan Company (as well as the Top-Flite and Strata brands)—went bankrupt and was scooped up by Callaway for $125 million.

The Carlsbad company had precious few plans for the Hogan brand, however. It was too busy focusing on its own branded products and resuscitating Top-Flite to devote any R&D to Hogan. In 2008, Callaway stopped production of Hogan clubs altogether. And it sold the Hogan rights to men’s fashion house Perry Ellis in 2012, the same year it offloaded Top-Flite to Dick’s Sporting Goods for $20m.

Callaway though, somewhat cunningly perhaps, retained the rights to “Apex” and “Edge” and would later produce irons with the same name as Hogan’s most successful products.

Hope had all but disappeared it seemed. Would an authentic Ben Hogan iron ever be made again?

Fortunately for devotees, a former Hogan company employee named Terry Koehler who now owned his own golf equipment company—Eidolon Brands, makers of SCOR wedges—harbored a powerful desire to resurrect Hogan irons, and contacted Perry Ellis International president Oscar Feldenkreis to discuss the possibility of a deal.

In May 2014 Feldenkreis announced that Perry Ellis would continue to produce its Hogan-branded clothing and accessories while Koehler, and his Ben Hogan Golf Equipment Company, would build irons.

Koehler made his approach clear from the outset – like his former boss, he would not release anything until he was convinced the club was as good as it could possibly be. And he insisted that, instead of the usual six-month lifespan of modern-day irons, his clubs would stay on shelves for two years (assuming they weren’t bought, of course).

At the PGA Merchandise Show in January, Koehler unveiled his company’s first iron—the Ft. Worth 15, named after the Texas city to which Hogan moved at the age of nine, and where he established his club-making business in 1954.

The reaction to the new Hogan iron was beyond positive, the media in one voice extolling the sophisticated look of the minimal offset/modest cavity clubheads that had been forged from 1025 carbon-steel and stamped with lofts rather than numbers. Twenty-eight irons – one for every loft from 20 degrees to 47, will be available when the clubs reach stores sometime in April, when each iron will retail for $150.

Koehler also introduced the similarly attractive TK 15 Wedges – 16 clubs with every loft from 48 to 63 degrees – which will also be available in April and cost $150 per club.

For more information visit  benhogangolf.com


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