Thursday, July 19, 2012

Ben Hogan's True Equipment Specifications


Recently, Jeff Martin over at, was able to get the measurements of Ben Hogan's irons from the USGA House. In particular a set of 1953 irons Hogan used and a ‘practice’ set that he also used. You can follow the thread at this link:

His 1953 set had different lie angles than his ‘practice’ set. We don’t have the measurement of the 1953 iron lengths. However, I will assume that Hogan used the same length irons as his practice set.

Here’s a look at the lie angle specs:

1-iron: 54.6°
2-iron: 55.6°
3-iron: 57.2°
4-iron: not available
5-iron: 59.3°
6-iron: 60.2°
7-iron: 61.7°
8-iron: 61.7°
9-iron: 62.6°
PW: 62.5°
SW: not available

Here’s the lengths (based off the practice set):

1-iron: not available
2-iron: 38-1/2”
3-iron: 38-0”
4-iron: 37-1/2”
5-iron: 37-0”
6-iron: 36-3/8”
7-iron: 36-0”
8-iron: 35-3/8”
9-iron: 35-1/4”
PW: not available
SW: 34-7/8”

And here are the swingweights (based off the practice set):

1-iron: not available
2-iron: C8
3-iron: C7
4-iron: C7
5-iron: C9
6-iron: C8
7-iron: C8
8-iron: C7
9-iron: D2
PW: not available
SW: D5


So, what do we see?

His clubs were very short in length. Hogan was only about 5’6” tall, but he had no problem with making his clubs rather short in length. Even back then, they were about ½” shorter than vintage iron standards.

His lie angles were fairly flat. But, we have to understand that for every ½” difference in shaft length. That equates to 1° in effective lie angle. So, Hogan’s clubs with relation to today’s standard were more like this (rough approximation):

1-iron: 7° flat
2-iron: 6° flat
3-iron: 5.5° flat
4-iron: 5.5° flat
5-iron: 4° flat
6-iron: 4° flat
7-iron: 3° flat
8-iron: 3.5° flat
9-iron: 2.5° flat
PW: 3° flat
SW: 1.5° flat

His clubs also had a very light swingweight to them. However, we would need to get a better idea of the total weight of the club and the MOI to understand more. That’s part of the problem with swingweight, Hogan may have had very heavy static weight clubs that would be difficult to swing with any real velocity. But if the weight was primarily located towards the butt end of the club, the swingweight will drop.

I have been told by people who have hit his irons how stiff and difficult they were to hit. Give this information, I think it is within reason that Hogan may have put an inordinate amount of weight on the butt end of his clubs.

Once again, thanks to Jeff Martin and the USGA people for putting this together.



Alec Katzman said...

Thanks for this Richie, its pretty obvious that the components would have to be separated to find out what's really going on but what are you using for a "standard"? If you're going by anything made today, even a set of forged blades its apples & oranges. Here's the pg from the Titleist historical db with the specs for the '84 841 top end blades
If you use this for a standard, the specs on all the Titleist blades hardly changed at all from the 70s thru the 2000s & do a comp of this Hogan set they're all about 1/2" under & between standard & 2 flat on the lie and the lofts are weak compared to this standard but close to inline to the old MacGregor standard from the 50s & 60s where the PW/11 iron was 52° & a three iron was 22°. All in all if you found a set of vintage clubs with these numbers you'd have to say they're a bit short but not much and standard spec. I've done numbers on dozens of sets straight out of the box from the factory that were marked standard but the individual irons were all over the place from three up to two down with the five and seven irons set at the same loft. Isn't the discrepancy between the two & three and the big gap between the 8 & 9 to be expected on handmade clubs from the 50s?

Rich H. said...

I own sets from the 50's, 60's, 70's and 80's. I would say in the late 80's is when OEM's started to make the jump from 37-3/4" long 5-iron (w/ grip) as standard to add a 1/4" to make it 38" long, which is today's standard.

In the 70's, they went down about another 1/4". Still, Hogan's clubs were likely about 1/2" shorter than what the standard for back then. Compared to today, they are about 1 full inch shorter.

Lie angles don't have to be in perfect increments. Even Steve Elkington discussed this in a video as shaft droop can play a role in your lie angles that fit you best. I would also imagine that a golfer's particular swing with each particular club could prevent that as well.

I know that's why I fit for lie angles LAST when doing clubs for myself and customers. I'll fit for MOI second to last, then since the impact dispersion is much tighter, I can get a much better idea where the golfer is striking the ball. We then go thru each club with impact tape on *grass* and decide from there, which clubs to bend and which way and how much.

I know my 3-iron is at 58* lie angle. My 4-iron is at 59.5. Then I have a 1.5* difference between my 9 and PW lie angles.

I also think people are possibly denying the fact that perhaps Hogan wasn't as precise as they thought with his equipment. And lie angles can bend over time with simple use.

Lots of factors here.