Hogan Precision Irons

I’ve only been into the classic gear for about a year now, but as far as I can tell the Hogan Precision irons are THE iconic set of blades in the vintage golf world. Consider this:

  • Ben Hogan, ever the perfectionist, was so obsessed with getting these right that he threw out the first production run, an estimated $100,000 loss, and alienated one of his biggest investors in the process.

  • Once the Precisions came out, they remained essentially unchanged except for cosmetics for 6 years (Can you imagine any OEM today doing that?) The first model officially debuted as a '54. In '56 they shortened the hosel from 3 1/2" to 3". In '58-'59 they changed the name to Sunbursts, but they are the same head design.

  • It’s been said that Hogan himself kept his original set of Precisions in his bag for all of his competitive golf at least until the late 70’s or early 80’s – that’s over 20 years! Was he just stubborn or did he know something? After all, he is said to have extensively tested every model before approving them for production, yet he never put any of them in his gamer bag.

  • If you watch eBay long enough you can eventually find ANY classic set of irons for $100 (or less) … EXCEPT the Precisions. It’s extremely rare to find a set for less than $500 unless they are completed burned out, and then they’re still at least $200-300.

But, despite all of the above, I have yet to find a single playing review of the Hogan Precision irons anywhere on the internet. I recently picked up a set because I just had to see what all the fuss was about. While I’m still forming my opinions on them I was wondering if anybody here has played with them and what their thoughts were on this model. Thanks

I don’t have a set of Precisions, nor have I played a set of them… But I’ve played a few others and for me the Hogan Apex #4 was too soft flex for me in the longer irons. But it didn’t stop me from playing a few sets over the years. The Grinds, Apex, Apex Plus, and have always had a soft spot for the Wedges as they look classy and the the Apex shaft in the wedges seem to work acceptably for what they are required to do.

Some one gave me a set of Bounce #1 sole irons and I’ve taking them apart and thinking about reshafting and trying a bit of ABS-ing on them. The pins are a real pain to get out, and the few that I have removed required drilling as none of them punched out. With the exception of the E wedge, the shafts in the other irons will have to removed with an easy out as they did not want to come out after the pins were removed. Before these are getting the treatment I have my focus set on having some M 85 irons done first.

Hogans are decent irons and given the amount of years they were in production, there is a design that will appeal to almost any golfer.

Hope you enjoy your recently acquired Precision irons.

I’ve played just one round so far with the Precisions, but I’ve had 4 or 5 sessions on the range already. My over-riding impression is that the clubs are aptly named, for several reasons:

  • The golfer has to be very precise in his ball striking or he will really feel it. Miss the sweet spot by just a smidge and it will be harsh, like a big mishit. However, then you look up and the ball is flying straight with little or no distance lost. As far as feel goes, the sweet spot is very hard to find, which to my mind is a good thing. But slight mishits are much less damaging than they feel. That negative feedback, as Lag suggests, is really helpful. To me a parallel situation is when I play older courses with really small greens. I find that I hit just as many, if not more, greens in regulation than I do on a modern course with their parking lot sized greens – just because it forces me to narrow my focus.

  • Ball flight seems to be very precise, very straight. Having the long hosel (my '57’s have the 3" hosel) the sweet spot is not in the horizontal center of the club, but probably a 1/4" or so closer to the heel. It takes a little time to adjust to this, but I think there are some benefits. In the late 50’s both Hogan and MacGregor were making irons with very long hosels, the thinking being (as far as I can gather) that having a more heelward sweet spot made it easier to work the ball. On the other hand, Wilson was making irons with a very short hosel, and boring the bottom of it out to boot. This allowed them to move more mass behind the sweet spot and on out towards the toe. I think the difference in design philosophy is interesting. The Wilsons feel much more solid, especially on misses towards the toe. But on the other hand, all that extra mass positioned away from the shaft line makes it too easy for me to turn the club over and hook the ball, or fan it open and slice. So in that regard, the Wilsons are actually easier to work the ball, although that’s usually a bad thing for me. The Precisions seem inclined to stay square to the swing arc longer.

  • Distance dispersion from these also seem very precise. With my Wilson Turfriders I’ve had a difficult time figuring out my yardages because I keep getting these outliers. Just when I’ve decided that my 5 iron goes 160 (37" shaft, 36* loft), I’ll smash one that only goes 150-152. Or I’m expecting the 7 iron to go 135-140 and it goes almost 150 – very unpredictable. It may be due to the Wilsons feeling so solid on every shot that I can’t tell the pure shots from the slight mishits. But so far, at least on the range and the one round I played, yardages from the Precision are, well, very precise.

My first impression of these clubs was not a very good one – I didn’t care for them too much. The difficulty in finding the sweet spot results in a lot of negative feedback. When I went back to my Hogan Medallions they actually felt like game-improvement clubs! However, the more I play with these things the more I’m starting to appreciate Hogan’s design. I can see these not being very popular with the average recreational golfer, in fact he would probably hate them. But I think the rewards of playing with these long term will be more than commensurate with the effort. I’m really hoping to hear from others who have hit these to see if their experiences are similar.

Thanks for the insightful post and feedback. I have not played the Precisons, but have played a lot with the next version of Hogan irons which were the Powerthrust. In that release, the toe weight was heavily shaved off and near the sole also. I think of them more of a hitter’s club… meaning the player doesn’t have to rely upon the mass of the toe weight swinging shut like a heavy door. More mass behind the sweetspot and the toe hits send a weak vibration up the shaft which doesn’t feel very good. This encourages more responsibility to the player to keep the strike firm and structured through proper grip pressure and good hand action through the strike. By really feeling the sweetspot, the brain naturally takes notice and moves focus there which improves us over time.

Edit - My 5 iron loft is 32*, not 36