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Thread: Ben Hogan's iron specs - some myths busted...

  1. #1
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    Ben Hogan's iron specs - some myths busted...

    Today I visited the USGA Museum and spent some time with Rob Alvarez, the Museum Collections Manager. I called Rob on Monday and asked if I could come out and inspect Hogan's 1953 driver, which he very kindly agreed to do. I'll talk about the drivers in another post. But we also talked about Hogan's irons. The museum has two sets on display: one that was used by Hogan in 1953 and a later set that Rob referred to as the "practice" set. I asked if the museum had measured the irons and it turns out they have, though not completely. Rob confessed that they really should get all of Hogan's clubs in the collection measured by the USGA's testing group, but, the testing group is "just too busy"!

    Rob gave me what they had on the two sets, which I have scanned and are posted below:

    Lie angles for 1953 set:

    Name:  1953.PNG
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    Loft, lie, length and swingweights for the "practice set":


    Name:  practice set.PNG
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    It would appear that, based on this data from the USGA, claims that Hogan's equipment was as much as 6 degrees flat and very heavy are completely baseless.



    Jeff

  2. #2
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    Swingweight and total weight are different. Hogan could still have heavy clubs in total weight as opposed to swingweight. I read that Hogan put a reminder wire under his grips and that would add total weight but reduce swingweight also it depends what his grip weight was and what he used under the grips for build up to get his grip size and also the shaft weight and the clubhead weights what they were before assembly.

    What's interesting is the lie angles, I read where some said he had 8* flat clubs, I always thought that was b.s.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by footwedge View Post
    Swingweight and total weight are different. Hogan could still have heavy clubs in total weight as opposed to swingweight. I read that Hogan put a reminder wire under his grips and that would add total weight but reduce swingweight also it depends what his grip weight was and what he used under the grips for build up to get his grip size and also the shaft weight and the clubhead weights what they were before assembly.

    What's interesting is the lie angles, I read where some said he had 8* flat clubs, I always thought that was b.s.
    I was able to inspect (i.e., handle and measure) four of Hogan's drivers. On two of them, the grips were Golf Pride full cord, maybe one wrap over, one with a reminder set at about 5:30. One driver, a MacGregor Tourney Eye-O-Matic, had a round leather grip and I'm skeptical he even played with it (I'll post more on that later). His 1953 driver had a rubber Golf Pride grip with a reminder which I assume was a replacement since the 1953 iron set all had the full cord. Shafts were either True Temper X or Apex 5. There was nothing unusual about the "heft" of the drivers: they seemed like normal clubs.

    When I get back from vacation, I'll try to make an appointment to go over there with a swingweight scale and get some more measurements.


    Jeff

  4. #4
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    See if you can weigh a few of his irons, total weight not swingweight. Interesting stuff. Funny they haven't done the full specs on his clubs.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by footwedge View Post
    See if you can weigh a few of his irons, total weight not swingweight. Interesting stuff. Funny they haven't done the full specs on his clubs.

    Plan to, but I don't expect anything earth-shattering, based on the drivers I was able to handle.


    Jeff

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    yeah probably not but it would be interesting, did it look like he had bent opened the face angle of his irons? I read that somewhere also.

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    Quote Originally Posted by footwedge View Post
    yeah probably not but it would be interesting, did it look like he had bent opened the face angle of his irons? I read that somewhere also.
    Couldn't tell, the irons were in cases and impossible to get a good look at. But I'm skeptical that is true.


    Jeff

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by footwedge View Post
    See if you can weigh a few of his irons, total weight not swingweight. Interesting stuff. Funny they haven't done the full specs on his clubs.

    Yep. I guess they don't spend a lot of time on golf internet sites obsessing over Hogan!!!


    Jeff

  9. #9
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    Well that explains it. Is there any other golfers besides Hogan?...lol! Ask them if they know Hogan's secret. That should get a laugh.

  10. #10
    You also have to figure in that Hogan's irons were shorter, which alters the effective lie angle.

    1/2" in club length difference = 1 in effective lie angle.

    Today's 'standard' 5-iron length is 38 inches (with grip on). The standard lie angle for a modern 5-iron is about 61-62. I'll go with 61.5.

    From there, I'll use 1/2" club length increments for the 'standard' length. Except for the PW. Today's OEM's are pretty much making the PW about 1/4" shorter than the 9-iron. And I'll use 0.5 lie angle increments.

    Here's the approximate 'effective lie angle' differences in Hogan's equipment versus a 'standard' OEM set.

    2-iron: 6 flat
    3-iron: 5.5 flat
    4-iron: N/A (don't know his 1953 set lie angle)
    5-iron: 4 flat
    6-iron: 4 flat
    7-iron: 3 flat
    8-iron: 3.5 flat
    9-iron: 2.5 flat
    Exploder (I'm assuming the PW): 6 flat

    So saying that they were 6 flat doesn't appear to be that far off. I used the practice set lengths as I can't imagine Hogan using different iron shaft lengths with his practice set.

    As you can see, his clubs generally got more closer to the standard as the loft was higher.

    I would definitely be interested in the total weight of the irons. Swingweight tells us next to nothing. I doubt they have a MOI machine handy, but if we get an idea of his total weight, that would tell us something. However, his total weight will be a little lighter than it should be given how short the irons are.

    But thanks for checking this out. I was thinking about this the other day as to why nobody has measured Hogan's clubs. Really fascinating to see.



    3JACK

  11. #11
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    Very interesting, Richie! I assume you used the "practice" set lengths?

    What the USGA data does debunk is the claim that Hogan's 1-iron had a 51 degree lie angle. This claim is based on a picture of the 1-iron stolen from Hogan's bag after the final round of the 1950 US Open at Merion and recovered a few years ago.


    Jeff

  12. #12
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    BTW, the "Exploder" in the practice set seems to be some sort of lob wedge with 61 degrees of loft and a very short shaft. I was also surprised that the practice set sand wedge had 58 degrees of loft. "Standard" for a long time was 54 degrees or thereabouts. Hogan was ahead of his time there.

    It is also interesting how the loft gaps changed throughout the practice set: the 3-iron, at 22 degrees, had only a degree more loft than the 2-iron (21*), whereas the 9-iron had six degrees more loft (48*) than the 8 (42*)! Also unusual that the 5-iron (30*) had 5 degrees more loft than the 4-iron (25*), yet the 6-iron (32*) had only 2 degrees more loft than the 5!



    Jeff

  13. #13
    Yes, I used the practice set lengths. Like I said, I can't imagine Hogan using a practice set with different lengths (or noticeably different).

    I think it goes to show that there was a bit of feel that Hogan used here. Some of the lie angles were virtually the same in the 1953 set or there was a huge difference in the lie angle. That's why I fit for lie angles last. Once I get the MOI down, that gets the impact dispersion much tighter and you can start to clearly see where the golfer hits the ball. But, you still have to account for shaft droop and IMO, I think some golfers just tend to swing different irons differently....just enough to make them want to alter their lie angles.

    Of course, Hogan was only about 5'6" tall, so it's not illogically to see why he wanted shorter irons with flatter lie angles. But, if you are 5 inches taller than Hogan, the length and lie angles should be longer and more upright.







    3JACK

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Martin View Post
    BTW, the "Exploder" in the practice set seems to be some sort of lob wedge with 61 degrees of loft and a very short shaft. I was also surprised that the practice set sand wedge had 58 degrees of loft. "Standard" for a long time was 54 degrees or thereabouts. Hogan was ahead of his time there.

    It is also interesting how the loft gaps changed throughout the practice set: the 3-iron, at 22 degrees, had only a degree more loft than the 2-iron (21*), whereas the 9-iron had six degrees more loft (48*) than the 8 (42*)! Also unusual that the 5-iron (30*) had 5 degrees more loft than the 4-iron (25*), yet the 6-iron (32*) had only 2 degrees more loft than the 5!



    Jeff
    I was curious as to what the Exploder was. I had always thought that the 'E' was the PW and stood for 'Equalizer.' So I was thrown off by the 'exploder.'

    I know one of the things Edel is doing with their future irons is that it will have a big focus on yardage gapping and it doesn't really care what the lofts are, just what distances you hit with each iron.

    I know from my own set, the lie angles are a little weird. IIRC, the 3 & 4-irons are about 3-4 flatter than my 5-iron. Just the way they play.





    3JACK

  15. #15
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    Not the best pictures...

    Apologies, but here is what I have of the irons...

    1953 set:

    Name:  1953 irons.jpg
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    Name:  1953 irons 2.jpg
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    Practice set:


    Name:  Practice set.jpg
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    Jeff

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