Ben Hogan's gear... debunked.

It appears that the specs on Hogan’s gear (as measured on two sets located at the HOF… a set Hogan used in '53 and a practice set) are not far off from “modern specs.” A bit shorter in length but that’s about it.

(Images pulled from

Jeff met with Robert Alvarez, the Museum Collection Manager, to get the information. The first image shows the lie angles on the '53 set and the second is the complete specs on the practice set.
Hogans Gear 1953 set.JPG
Hogans Gear.JPG

I think R3J’s blog post was interesting re: this info

I’m looking at those numbers and thinking how sloppy they are between clubs and even between the two sets. The lengths are inconsistent, the lie angles are inconsistent, loft angles inconsistent, even swing weight are inconsistent.

You have the best player in the world at that time and you would think his club fitter would do a proper job.

Something just doesn’t feel right about that. Plus that Jeff Martin guy seems to have an axe to grind. I’d take this with a grain of salt for sure.

Jeff says this in his post.

"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:"

So the USGA’s testing group is too busy to measure the club specs for one of the greatest golfers in history? This on clubs they have had for decades sitting in their museum. What else are they doing? Oh wait, it’s been 3 weeks since the Rocketballz has been introduced. Rocketballz 2.0 is out and needs testing. :unamused:

Gee, I guess they couldn’t get a local club fitter to do the measuring. Hell, he’d probably do it for free just for the privilege of handling Hogans clubs.

They’re not inconsistent.

First, they only have the lengths for his practice set and not his 1953 irons. The lie angles are somewhat inconsistent, but it appears that they rounded up the lie angles on the practice set while getting the '53 irons to the nearest tenth of a decimal point. If you look at that, then they are no longer inconsistent. There is also no lofts listed for the '53 set…again, just the practice set lofts are listed.

I think Hogan probably had moderately heavy irons, but put a lot of the weight up towards the grip (aka backweighting). It would explain the light swingweights and those who have said that his clubs felt a bit heavy and very stiff…which usually is what it feels like when you backweight clubs.

As far as the lie angles go, my blog goes over the ‘effective lie angle.’ Hogan’s irons were quite short compared to today’s standards and that alters the effective lie angle difference.


I do trust Tom Wishon’s testament being a club maker and actually holding his playing set at the factory. What Wishon said quoted below is consistent with others such and David Frost, Mark Brooks, and Kris Tschetter’s writings.

This doesn’t tell us much. The USGA used the finest instruments to measure those specs. You still have to remember that his irons were short in length, so they played effectively flatter than the modern specs. And they have his 1-iron at 54.6*. Still flat. Even flatter with a presumed 1" shorter in length.

I’m a big fan of Wishon, but I trust the USGA’s measurements…done in the past 2 years, then Tom going off what he could recall over 20 years ago and may have not even actually measured them. If he felt them and they felt heavy, given the USGA’s measurements, that would just lead me to believe even more that he backweighted his clubs quite a bit.


I have talked to Lindy Miller, who runs the Hogan Foundation. He doesn’t have specs but says they are very flat and very stiff. He has invited me to go over to Shady Oaks and put them in my hands. I am going to have to take him up on that.

No, I meant the lengths within the set. Usually 1/2 inch per club but they get real squirrelly especially the 8/9/SW lengths. Of course it could just be sloppy measuring too. What happened to the 4 iron?

I still don’t see how the USGA museum doesn’t do a good job of getting the specs of his clubs and the many others they have and owned for decades. Why don’t they have the lengths for his 1953 irons (the ones that won 3 majors that year) but do have the practice set lengths? Is the 4 iron missing or just not measured? If they half-assed that, I’m not too sure I would trust the rest of the numbers. Hell, it might have been Sam Sneads numbers. It’s only been 69 years since then (looks like they measured them in April of 2012). Maybe they can eventually fit it into their schedule. It’s just astounding.

The clubs look like the “Personal” model based on the out of focus pic that Jeff Martin took in his Myth busted thread.

Makes you wonder if they really are his personal clubs (that he won the US Open, British Open, and Masters that year) or were they a set of Hogan “Personal” clubs? Didn’t he also start his club company that year so were those prototypes or what did he play that year? Might be more to this than meets the eye.

Richie3Jack, my trust in the USGA to do anything correctly is quite low these past years.

Nfbandon, please take a protractor/kitchen scale with you and take plenty of pics if you go. :smiley:

The lengths are not inconsistent. The Exploder is more of a Lob Wedge.

So, if you look at 3-9 irons…fairly consistent.

He does go in 1/2" increments on some clubs. The ones he doesn’t, the difference is 3/8" which is so close to being 1/2" that it could be a minute measuring error by the USGA or the clubmaker.

You may disagree with the USGA rulings, but I think measuring a set of clubs with good equipment is a little overboard in ‘not trusting them.’

The clubs are flat.

The clubs are short, which makes them effectively flatter.

It’s very conceivable that the clubs could have a heavy static weight, but a light swingweight. At least they have physically measured the equipment themselves.


I can set a club on the ground and tell the lie angle within a degree no problem. I bend so many clubs I can pretty much do it by eye these days.

If you look at Hogan’s filmography, you can see his irons and woods were very flat. Just because a set is in the USGA museum does not mean those lie angles are exactly how Hogan had his clubs set up in 48, 53 or 64. Who knows for sure who owned them in between or messed with them… were they played by someone else? a collector, bent who knows.

Chalmers knew Hogan because he was making shafts for his company and said Hogan was the first to introduce irons that were 1 inch over length… not under length. Who do you believe? Chalmers also said super flat, super heavy and super stiff.

There is a David Frost article where Frost hit Hogan’s clubs on the range and couldn’t hit them at all. He said something to the effect that they were nothing like any kind of golf club he had ever seen or hit. Crenshaw the same thing.

If his irons were longer, that should flatten the lie angles not make them more upright. That makes no sense assuming he had the same hand position.

You could go round and round with “he said she said” all day long and it is really circumstantial evidence or hearsay.

But if you watch the mountains of Hogan film footage, you do not see a guy swinging upright gear with an upright swing to match.

David Frost article…“The shafts were too stiff and the lie angles were too flat”… Even Hogan said “You don’t hit the ball on your backswing” :wink:


Snapshot 2 (7-25-2012 4-48 AM).png …They sure didn’t do a good job of debunking… I measured this at about 50 degrees with a 4 iron… Maybe even less than that…

I don’t understand the need to be defensive and I find it insane that we are using camera shots and video stills and using that as ‘proof’ versus the USGA actually measuring the clubs with their own devices.

Plus, outside of the swingweight…which still does not mean the clubs were a light static weight…the club specs were are in line with the ABS concepts of equipment you preach. 54.6° lie angle with a 1-iron is very flat. And considering the club was about 1" shorter, that makes it extremely flat compared to today’s standards. I would assume that a modern 1-iron (since they don’t make them anymore), would be at about 58.5° to 59.0° lie angle and at 39-1/2" long. That’s roughly a 6-7° effective lie angle angle difference. Still in line with the ABS concepts. It’s just not at 51°.

And you can’t tell a lie angle of a club by looking at a video still at impact. Not only do you have distortion and perspective errors from the camera, but impact doesn’t tell you lie angle of the club.

I have no issue with believing somebody saying that the clubs were flat because they were. And if they felt they were heavy, it’s entirely possible they were due to a lot of backweighting which we know can make the clubs have a lighter swingweight, but a heavier static weight.


Too many unknowns.

Just because a set is in a museum doesn’t mean they were the exact clubs Hogan used in competition and have been unaltered by anyone in the last 60 years. Where have they been stored? Who owned them? What events were they used?
I agree that camera angles can be distorted, but if you look at 100s of them, then that distortion should be appear both too flat and too upright across the broader spectrum. I don’t see too many angles where the clubs look upright.

Explain to me how a shorter club makes the lie angle flatter? Just think that through for a second.

This isn’t about defending flat lie angles. I have heard people suggest Moe’s irons were flat. They were not. I knew Moe personally and held his clubs. They were upright.

Didn’t the caddy who wrote a book have some totally different take on his clubs? Vasquez?

What you don’t see is the toe of the club sticking way up in the air like the modern pros do. With Hogan, you see a persimmon that is bored flat with the club setting on the ground correctly.

Barkow told me Hogan was the first to come out with his irons 1 inch over length, not shorter. That is a 2 inch discrepancy and is very significant to lie angle. Chamlers made Hogan’s shafts for his company and his personal playing sets. He says his irons and woods were crazy flat. He has no reason to make that up.

You can look at old footage and see a lot. I can see that Palmer’s lie angles were not as flat as Hogan’s or Nicklaus for that matter. You can see if a guys hands come in higher at impact or lower. Address means little… it’s where the hands are at impact.

Mehlhorn said golf is a game that should be played from a 45 degree angle, and the shorter clubs will be a bit more upright than that. Hogan studied Mehlhorn and was probably influenced by how he had things set up.

I am as skeptical of this guys findings as I would be if he said his clubs were 12 degrees flat.

After taking another look at these measurements, this is complete crap.
1 degree loft difference between a 2 and 3 iron?
A 5 degree loft difference between a 4 and 5 iron?
A 2 degree loft difference between a 5 and 6?
10 degree loft difference between a 9 iron and his nearest wedge 48 to 58?
His 3 and 4 iron sit the same at 57 but then there is a 2 degree jump to a 5 iron?

I don’t know what an exploder is, maybe an earlier version of his equalizer, but this thing is supposed to be
his PW or gap wedge and the loft is 61 degrees? Then swing weights 6 points lighter than a his 9 iron?

Here’s to debunking the debunked.

This is silly.

Those were Hogan’s clubs that he used. I have 100% confidence in that.

Were they altered? I sort of doubt it. One can have forged irons altered thru play on very hard ground. I doubt that somebody else was playing with them that much on hard ground. Could it happen? Sure…I just highly doubt that the USGA or somebody else would allow Joe Schmoe some serious amount of time hitting those clubs on crappy hard turf or off of mats. I’ve talked to people who have hit his set at Shady Oaks, but it’s done under scrutiny and care with a short amount of time, and usually they wind up just hitting the driver.

I completely dismiss the camera angle argument. There’s no way anybody can tell with any accuracy what the lie angles were from a camera still.

It makes the effective lie angle flatter compared to other equipment lie angles. I don’t think it’s that hard to figure out.

I think he just measured the swingweight, IIRC. And I think he also found the swingweights light, in the D-0 to D-2 range. I’d have to check.

Why would the USGA make up these specs?

Why would Hogan, who was 5’6” tall play with 1-inch longer shafts? That’s crazy talk.


I don’t think it’s crazy to think that somebody like Hogan was more worried about his distance gap yardages than what the loft actually was.

In fact, I recently talked to a person involved with one equipment company that is looking to make irons based exactly on a custom fitting process for yardage gapping with not a care about what the loft increments are because as they have researched, often times golfers of all skill level have to have certain lofts in clubs tweaked to get the yardage gap to even out.

The Exploder was Hogan’s version of a lob wedge. So there’s a 10 degree difference in loft between the 9-iron and SW. That’s not crazy at all as I would assume that if the 9-iron was at 48° and the SW was at 58°, then the pitching wedge (Equalizer) was probably at around 53°, which back then was in-line with PW lofts.

Also the lie angles are rounded off in the specs for the practice set. The 1953 set have lie angles of:

1-iron: 54.6°
2-iron: 55.6°
3-iron: 57.2°
4-iron: unknown
5-iron: 59.3°
6-iron: 60.2°
7-iron: 61.7°
8-iron: 61.7°
9-iron: 62.6°
PW: 62.5°

From 1-iron to 6-iron it appears for the most part he preferred a 1° increment in lie angles. Then the 7 and 8-iron are virtually the same and the 9-iron and PW are virtually the same.

Perhaps the shaft droop caused Hogan to prefer those lie angles with those clubs. I know I don’t utilize 0.5° or 1° lie angle increments because the shaft droop can alter what lie angle for each club fits me best.

Perhaps they were those lie angles and Hogan never really noticed a difference because he could just flush it time after time.

Perhaps they did bend over time.

Still, the lie angles are pretty flat and considering them being 1-inch shorter than today’s standard, the effective lie angles are extremely flat.


Richie3Jack, the “proof” that we have is a scanned document that Jeff Martin put on his forum. Not a document directly from the USGA. Based on what I have seen of him on SITD (and his banning there) and based on what his website seems to slant towards, I would not rule out the possibility that he may be pulling some shenanigans himself. It would not shock me to find him saying, “NAH, NAH, made you look!!!” and find out he fudged the numbers to support his own belief.

On the other hand, the numbers may be completely correct. But like I said in an earlier post, are those really his personal clubs or his “Personal Model” clubs. Wouldn’t be shocked if they were just a standard set of Hogan Personal model clubs that got sent in and some how the “lost in translation” got them out to be his personal clubs.

If we make that assumption then the loft, lies, swing weights and length are pretty close to “standard” at that time and make more sense.

Of course, all we have for his “real” clubs (not the practice/maybe experimental set that we have most of the numbers for) is lie angles. I find it odd that they just sent them over to get measured only for lie angle when the lofts are right there on the same measuring device. Just turn you head and read that number too. It only takes a few more seconds to read and write down. Maybe even take a few more seconds and put in in the high tech length measuring device and get that too. Take a bit more time and put it in the swing weight device that probably sits next to that device and get both the static weight and swing weight. I mean really?!? How often would you have those clubs out and in the measuring room? So do at least a mediocre job of measuring the clubs that won three majors in the same freaking year by the best golfer possibly ever!!!

At this point I withhold all judgement either way. Myth neither debunked or bunked ™. :laughing:

The sheet is not consistent with what you see in films… and it is not consistent with countless testaments from people who held his clubs.

No dead weights which is the most critical. Swing weights mean little because of butt weighting, but the ball couldn’t care less about that.

No shaft deflection comparisons… so nothing there.

No club between 48 and 58 degrees loft. Specs are all over the place.

If someone wants to set their clubs up based upon this sheet… well, you do that… not me.