Hogans Reborn

I’ve been playing Hogan irons since I started playing golf in 1989. My first set was the original Edge, then the Edge GS, then the ’94 Apex. I fell out of golf for a bit, but then picked up the 2001 Apex Plus cavity backs and I’ve had them since. I reshafted them about 8 years ago with Black Golds, a shaft since discontinued by True Temper, but otherwise they’re pretty much stock. I’m a 5 handicap, driver swing speed is around 105mph, smooth transition, favor a pretty straight ball.

The two things I’ve always loved about the Hogans: the feel and the look. It may just be what I’m used to, but I’ve always loved how they feel, how they play, and how they play. They don’t surprise me, which ends up being a great thing.

I was never excited about the “Hogans” that Callaway came out with. They just looked like Callaway irons with the Apex name on them.

I was pretty excited when I heard someone had bought the name and was going to try to bring back the iron set. Maybe they’d get it right?

I’ve been playing with the new irons for about two weeks now, and I think they’ve really got something. I started out with a bang, with an eagle on the first hole I played, hitting the green with a 195 yard 29-degree (six iron?).

The heads are a bit softer in look than my old Apex Plus irons, and a smidgen smaller, especially in the long irons. The overall feel is a bit more clicky than any of the old irons. It’s solid, with great feedback on misses. I noticed it the most chipping and pitching.

IMG_20150731_184456

Some might find it disconcerting to see a small head in a long iron, but I quite like it. They cut through the rough beautifully and set up nicely. They’re also pretty darn forgiving, given the head shape. I’ve missed a few off the toe and I’m still getting good height and spin and only losing about five yards off a well struck shot. One instance that sticks in my mind was a 180 yard 29-degree, uphill, mishit off the toe. It held it’s line beautifully and still had a lot of spin, enough to stick on the green.

IMG_20150731_185033

The mid irons and wedges are just beautiful. They’re very much like my old ’94 Apex, maybe a bit softer in the lines. The satin finish is really nice, the feel and balance are fantastic.

The short irons look really good, much better than my old Hogans, especially the E / Pitching Wedge / 49 / 45. I always felt like the PW was the worst looking club in the set and never really fit with the rest, but in the new Hogans it fits right in and looks great.

The wedges are phenomenal. It’s really nice having a set that match with the rest and have nice consistent distance gaps. The soles work well and get out of the way when you need to open it up. The 61 is capable of hitting some of the softest flop shots I’ve ever hit from some really nasty, tight lies. The spin on short shots is impressive; I’ve had a bunch of little 40 yard pitches stop right where they hit. The grips on the wedges, which are a bit longer than usual, are handy, especially when chipping and on soft little shots.

The set came with the 49 / 53 / 57 / 61. The 49 is great for chipping and the 61 is great for flippy stuff around the greens. I have not spent enough time with the 53 and 57 for anything past approaches, where they work well, but getting down distances with this array of wedges will take some time. The 57 has a touch more bounce that the 61, so it should work better from soft sand, but we don’t have much soft sand at the moment. The 61 worked well from firm sand and moderate sand. No problems chipping with any of them, no real surprises, maybe a bit more spin than I’m used to, especially on the 61.

I also chip a fair bit with a eight or seven, and the new heads are great for that. Good feel, good feedback, no surprises.

The new sole design is much easier to play than the older knife-like soles. I had no problems with turf interaction, especially on the shorter irons. My old set worked well, but had a tendency to dig and cut some impressive divots.

The lofts-instead-of-numbers takes some getting used to, and was actually a real source of confusion at first. My ’99 Apex Plus have the following lofts, PW – 3i ( 46 / 42 / 38 / 34 / 30.5 / 27 / 23.5 / 20 ) while the new Hogans are ( 49 / 45 / 41 / 37 / 33 / 29 / 25 / 21 ) and 1/4″ longer. So, roughly three degrees weak and a tick longer, with some more separation in the long irons.

Three degrees is nearly that four degree gap, so at first, I treated it like the 45 was my new PW. When I hit it about 135, (I hit my old PW 120), I had to rethink things.

I realized that the new 45 was 3/4″ longer than my old 46 PW, because of how the lofts lined up. That change goes through the set, so I mostly gave up trying to match things up and just learned new distances. Here’s they are:

New distances:

61 – 80
57 – 95
53 – 105
49 – 120
45 – 130
41 – 140
37 – 155
33 – 170
29 – 185
25 – 200
21 – 210(?) (I don’t hit this much, use a 3H instead)

Old distances:

60 – 75 ~ 80 (Mizuno T5)
54 – 100 (Mizuno T5)
50 – 110 (Mizuno T5)
46 (E) – 125
42 (9) – 135
38 (8) – 145
34 (7) – 155
30 (6) – 170
26 (5) – 180
23 (4) – 190

I’m hitting a 3-degree-weak-1/4″-longer iron around the same distance. Flight is noticeably different though, quite a bit flatter, seemingly with loads of spin, more than I’m used to. On one shot back into a light breeze, I hit a 150 yard 37 that spun back 15 feet. That was pretty surprising. The ball shoots out and just seems to sit there, falling slowly. I’m hitting the 49 lower than I hit my old PW, at 46.

To sum it up, as you can probably tell, I really enjoy the new Hogans.They look great throughout the set, they perform wonderfully for the kinds of shots I try to hit and how I tend to miss (usually thin). Distance control is very good, the flight is nice, the heads are versatile and adapt well to just about everything I’ve thrown at them. They’re not coming back out of the bag.