Recently contacted the USGA Museum and their staff responded very courteously and promptly with this information. Im posting with their permission.
Quote “Thank you for your question regarding Ben Hogan’s 1-iron from the 1950 U.S. Open Championship. Five years ago I asked the USGA Research and Test Center to measure the club for lie angle and loft. The club’s lie angle is 55.5 degrees, and the loft is 17 degrees”.
Camera angles can distort things, but this looks like a pretty clean DTL view supposedly of the club in question.
Tom Wishon who is an expert club maker held Hogan’s personal playing clubs in the backroom of the factory and said they
were very very flat… like 8 degrees to his eye. Very heavy and very stiff.
A letter from Tom wishon which can be found in the Ben Hogan Club thread quotes him as follows:
“I would guess from memory at least 3-4 degrees flat for the irons.”
I don’t think Tom has ever specified that he thought they were 8 flat unless he had commented to that effect somewhere else.
It’s fine to think he played much flatter lies, but most sources put his clubs in the range of 2-4 degrees flat.
The 1 iron measurement looks to be in the ball-park lie figures from the chart on this website (depending on club lengths). Somewhere between manufacturers flat / standard of the period. These are obviously all relatively flat numbers when compared to todays specs.
It would certainly be useful to find out the specs of a Driver actually played by Mr Hogan and how it relates to this scale.
Tom had emailed me a few years ago and estimated about 8 degrees flat. Just his memory. Pics seem to support that.
Other fine players have been really flat also with their gear. Jim Benepe won the Western Open and I played a lot with Jim over the years, talked gear and swing theory and he was 8 down. I held his clubs and know that to be fact. It’s not a crazy number.
Lag, do you still have the email? There are multiple sources with Tom wishon talking about Hogan’s clubs, and in no other place does he say 8 flat.
Even so none of Hogan’s clubs that have been measured ever came in that flat.
And throwing a protractor on a picture isn’t a credible way to do it, especially because that very Club has been measured properly on a loft and lie machine and was found to be 4.5 degrees more upright than what the picture showed.
I have no problem with you teaching people to play 8 down, but there is not sufficient evidence to support the claim that Hogan’s clubs were that flat.
If he did play clubs that flat, then great. I really have no problem with that. But the pseudoscience needs to be done away with and replaced with actual fact.
That is an absolutely fair reply. Certainly even the lie angle tests the usga have done could be a poor representation of how the clubs were 50+ years ago. In that sense we are all speculating. However, somewhere along the way it seems many took the idea that Hogan played clubs at 8 flat as fact. That is all that was bugging me.
As far as the concept of going flatter than what is currently being produced it seems like a good way to accommodate what abs is trying to accomplish and it would have to help get rid of the left misses.
As far as Norman; I read that he played clubs that were upright. Having handled his clubs Would you say that sounds accurate?
Moe stood much farther from the ball than most anyone I have seen. They looked like fairly standard lies to me. Nothing too upright, maybe a degree. They were not flat, but not crazy upright either. The shafts were super stiff, and the clubs where heavier than anything I had ever picked up. I thought John Morse (who won the Australian Open) had the heaviest clubs until I felt Moe’s. The most noticeable thing about Moe’s clubs were the grips. He had wrap on grips, some kind of synthetic leather like material but thicker and had an edge was firm and defined. Moe would wrap them on with a gap between so that the skin on his hands would work down into the slot between the wraps for an iron like connection to the club. Very thick grips and would be ideal for playing in the rain or on a hot humid day with sweaty hands.
Lag Thanks for the info on Moe’s clubs.
As far as measuring lie angle off of a photo. You probably could have a great deal of accuracy. But the club would have to be oriented perfectly to the camera. You would have to know that the proportions aren’t distorted and it would be best to have the grooves facing you. So IMO it is possible but more often than not the lie angle would be measured incorrectly.
For instance the photo of Hogan’s 1 iron looks to be set up pretty well to pull a lie angle off of it. But when that was done it came out much flatter than what a lie and loft machine reported. So it probably just needs to be done carefully if you are to try it.
Test the error. Take a club of known lie angle and photograph it at various angles and then estimate lie angle from the various photos using the same method and see what the variance is. Not suggesting crazy angles for the photos but subtle differences.
Sorry if this has been mentioned elsewhere but what did you estimate for swing weight in Moe’s clubs?
Re lie angles of other players, Lee Trevino mentions his formula in ‘swing my way’. From memory, the variation between 1 and 9 iron is fairly small. Short irons progressively more flat, long irons progressively less flat. Believe the 1 Iron would work out about the same as the Hogan 1 Iron measurement from the USGA Museum. Obviously Mr Trevino had a unique swing setup and presumably found this to work best.
I’m not one to have much concern over swing weights. I don’t like the concept. The balance between the head and grip on a swing weight scale can be very deceiving, particularly if you butt weight the club or use heavier grips like leather or big wrapped up grips like Moe did. Adding butt weight and bigger heavier grips still adds to the overall dead weight of the club, but can decrease the swing weight considerably.
When I move through transition and start my downswing, I am tugging on the entire weight of the golf club with the core of my body. As I move through the strike, I also hit with forearm rotation actively and feel the resistance of the mass of the club. More in the head at that point, but the grip still has mass, and I feel that in my hands and even more so in my body.
So for instance, let’s suppose Moe’s driver was 15 ounces. Probably with a typical rubber grip with two wraps of tape would be E4 to E7 at 43 1/3 inches. But if you added a counter weight to the grip, you could decrease the swing weight down to anything you wanted, depending upon the amount of butt weight. D-0 or ever C-5 if you added enough weight. But the club might now be 17 ounces but a much lower swing weight.
What I do with my sets is concentrate on dead weights. So assuming I have a matched set of shafts and grips… same number of wraps (I use 3 on most grips), I watch carefully the dead weights of the clubs and make sure they are falling into my specifications. Then my next concern is the deflection rates of my shafts. I look at each shaft and compare them to the others to make sure that the stress load is nearly identical from wedge to driver. Even my putter. Now I do this as a HITTER of the golf ball, not a swinger. I want the weight of the head and the stress I put on the shaft at transition to match the stiffness of the shaft. I don’t believe in frequency matching shafts… because they don’t oscillate prior to impact other than the one change in flexation at transition. That is the load, that is what I am feeling and what I strive to bring into impact.
So if you want to talk pseudoscience, then keep talking swing weights and frequency matched golf shafts.
If you lay any club on a table and try to measure the angle with a protractor from an eye view a few inches above, it will produce a flatter measurement (just tried it). The only way to be close is to view on a direct eye line with the surface of the table.
Anyway, I’m sure the Hogan 1 Iron has not been bent since the photo was taken and Ive no reason to doubt the USGA Museum measurement.
Unfortunately there are no known photos of the 1 Iron prior to it being stolen that would give an alternative. We can speculate that the club has been adjusted by a third party though Im doubtful anyone would seriously have tried to put the club into play during the years it was missing to the extent of wanting to bend it. Not impossible though.
I’m trying to obtain the measurement on a Hogan personal Driver and will report back if it’s made available.