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PGA Tour pros tried hitting Ben Hogan’s driver…and it didn’t go well

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If you’ve ever wondered how today’s professional golfers would fare with trying to hit Ben Hogan’s legendarily difficult to hit clubs, you’re in luck.

Writing for Golf Digest, Curt Sampson details some pre-Dean & DeLuca Invitational shenanigans.

A number of pros took swings with the great Mr. Hogan’s legendarily open-faced driver on the range at Colonial.

Regarding the driver’s specs, Mike Wright long-serving head professional at Shady Oaks (Hogan’s home club), told Sampson the driver in question is

“Forty-three inches, D-2, extra-stiff Apex 5 shaft…Tipped. Zero bulge and roll.”

The roughly 200 cubic centimeter driver featured the signature “Hogan Reminder” under the grip: A piece of wire inserted under the rubber to allow him to naturally assume a weak grip position.

Stewart Cink hit massive pulls and wide-right slices. Likewise, Billy Horschel and Tim Herron tried their luck.

Sampson also offered this interesting tidbit, as (praise Jesus) they grabbed a little Trackman data.

“Jason Kokrak swung, and swung again, and the guy manning the Trackman chuckled, amused by the numbers coming up on the launch monitor…Launch angles with the throwback club were much lower, around 9 degrees instead of Kokrak’s usual 11. Spin rates were dramatically higher, 3,100 rpm versus the usual 2,200; thus, the curve balls everyone was hitting.

Ball speed was 164 mph against the 179 Kokrak gets with his Titleist 917D2. As for distance: Kokrak’s tournament roll-included average of 304 yards contrasted with his max carry of 271 with the old club. Of his 10 drives, most flew in the low 260s.”

Fantastic stuff. Only would have been better with video.

Fortunately, in the moving picture department, Steve Elkington posted this clip of him working with the maestros paintbrush at Shady Oaks earlier in the week.

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20 Comments

20 Comments

  1. Kalob Crowe

    Aug 1, 2018 at 1:12 am

    How far did ben Hogan hit his driver?

  2. Joro

    Feb 12, 2018 at 12:28 pm

    When I was making the custom and Pros woods for Cobra back in the 70s I was asked to copy a Driver for Hogan and they sent me one to copy. The one thing that got me was zero bulge and roll. Wow, you have to be dead center and square to hit it straight and long. When I really looked at it closely there was a dime size depression right in the middle of the insert made by consistent impact, the rest of the insert was pretty clean. The man was amazing and that is why most all players loved Hogan Irons but not the woods, no B and R, and he wanted all Hogan clubs made to his specs until he realized everyone is not like him, and that was perfect. Another one was Billy Maxwell who I changed a shaft for and noticed his insert had popped out a few Thousands and asked him if he wanted me to change it. His answer was he pointed to a small depression in the center of the insert and said this where I hit it, no problem.

  3. Mat

    Jun 3, 2017 at 7:33 pm

    Why is Tom Hanks in the picture?

  4. stevie

    May 31, 2017 at 3:19 pm

    with ZERO bulge/roll there’s no correction built into the face, and I believe the driver would sit open several degrees at least, and sit very flat. Very unforgiving with that shaft. He used wire for the reminder. his irons were worse, someone I know who gripped them said the shafts were REBAR, and the head fell over as they sat very open, and FLAT.

  5. Darryl

    May 31, 2017 at 6:19 am

    But……is there anything more beautiful than one of those old persimmon Hogan woods? Well, maybe one of the old persimmon Mizuno MS series woods!

    Still got a 1967 MacGregor MT 4 wood, the shaft is well pitted and If i try and pull it I imagine the hosel section of the head will just turn to powder, but when you hit it, its just so nice. Probably only goes about 200 yards even with the new balls, but what a thing!

  6. Grizz01

    May 29, 2017 at 9:26 pm

    And remember, Jack Nicklaus used this type of equipment. Way worse ball with vey high spin… and still crushed over 300 yard drives. Yea, tell me again how any modern day player could match up with Jack!

    Before graphite shafts, metal heads and modern balls… that’s when real, tough and highly gifted men played the game at the highest level.

    • Todd Gunerman

      May 30, 2017 at 1:56 pm

      I don’t think Jack, or anybody, hit 300 yard drives consistently back then. Maybe once in a while downhill with a tail wind. At the end of the persimmon era 280 yds led the tour in driving distance.

      • Jack

        May 30, 2017 at 10:15 pm

        Don’t let facts get in the way of legends.

  7. westphi

    May 29, 2017 at 5:27 pm

    “FORTY-THREE INCHES, D-2, EXTRA-STIFF APEX 5 SHAFT…TIPPED.”

    Sounds like a 3-wood to me…

    • Joro

      Jun 4, 2017 at 7:00 pm

      43 was std in those days, some went long at 431/2. !3.5 oz was normal static weight. Persimmon was a work of art.

  8. bob

    May 29, 2017 at 1:29 pm

    they were hitting today’s “low spin” balls. when launch monitors first came out, we tested balata balls against the titleist “low trajectory” balls, which were still high spin compared to today’s stuff. spin on balata balls were almost 6,000 rpm’s compared to 2,000 today.
    as nicklaus always said, “its the ball”.

  9. Nils Nelson

    May 29, 2017 at 1:00 pm

    I’m surprised that no one commented on Curt Sampson’s definition of “tipping” a shaft, which he confuses with bore-through. Scores of club makers who know more than I will tell you that the former involves cutting the tip end of a shaft in order to make it stiffer, while the latter refers to a shaft that extends all the way to a club head’s sole. When I was working on persimmon woods, I learned that if a club wasn’t a bore-through, it meant that it was a store-line club vs pro-line. The shaft in a store-line club went about halfway into the head.
    Also, was Hogan’s reminder grip made with a piece of string or a length of wire hanger?

    • Joro

      May 29, 2017 at 3:26 pm

      Not totally true Nils, unless of course they were made prior to the late mid 60s. Bu the time I got into it blind bore was the majority as was unitized shafts. We still tipped but more for 1/2 flexes than anything. Blind bore stopped about 1/4 of an inch from going through. Through bore was a real pain in the Ass, but some required it, a throwback to the old days. Jack was one who had to have a bore through. The shafts had to be cut, sanded and plugged and at times some still wanted a screw through the neck, but like Pinned Irons the Epoxy did not require it. So went technology in the day.

  10. jack

    May 29, 2017 at 12:11 pm

    Back in the mid 70s to early 80s, I worked at a club in Pittsburgh (Long Vue Club) as a shop assistant/caddie master while in college/graduate school. One of the local pros was given a set of Hogan’s back up set of irons and I had an opportunity to hit the 5 iron. The shaft was an Apex 5 ( I was told it was tipped) with cord grips and a large reminder set in a very weak position (same grip as in the above video) . My normal 5 iron (Hogan Apex with a stiff (4) shaft) was 170-175 yards. The Hogan 5 iron carried 165-170 yards, very low, and with a fade. Despite my best efforts, I could not get any height and draw the ball. They were telephone poles with very rough corded grips.

    • stevie

      Jun 2, 2017 at 12:41 pm

      Were the irons very flat and open ? someone who held a set said shafts were REBAR.

  11. Steve

    May 28, 2017 at 3:31 pm

    “Kokrak’s tournament roll-included average of 304 yards contrasted with his max carry of 271 with the old club. Of his 10 drives, most flew in the low 260s.”

    A little bit disingenuous, no? Obviously his average total would be lower than 304 with the old driver, but it’s pretty sketchy to list the total with one and carry-only with the other to make the gap look even bigger…

    • Steve

      May 28, 2017 at 3:32 pm

      And that’s a knock on Curt Sampson, not Ben

    • DB

      May 29, 2017 at 11:07 am

      I agree. 260 carry is certainly shorter than today, but they don’t need to exaggerate. 304 with roll is probably around 280-285 carry.

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WATCH: PGA Tour players play hole blindfolded and it’s hilarious/amazing

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As part of a Srixon campaign, four PGA Tour players recently participated in a three-hole challenge, with each hole being a different game; hole No. 1 was blindfolded, hole No. 2 was costumes and distractions, and hole No. 3 was alternate shot with a baseball bat. The teams were Smylie Kaufman and Sam Ryder against Shane Lowry and Grayson Murray.

Watch the full video below, since it is quite entertaining (albeit not the type of golf that Old Tom Morris surely had in mind), but in particular, make sure to check out the first hole where Lowry and Ryder play a full hole completely blind folded. It’s amazing to watch how badly Ryder struggles, and how Lowry nearly makes par.

Cleveland-Srixon’s marketing department has been hard at work crafting these viral-esque ad campaigns; if you remember, former long-drive champion Jamie Sadlowski recently dressed as 80-year-old Grandpa Jamie to fool range-goers. That video has since gathered over 1.2 million views on YouTube.

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Think you had a bad weekend on the course? At least you didn’t do this

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We hope this golfer didn’t take the ultra-premium golf equipment plunge before sending his clubs to a watery grave. Either way, this was an expensive (and strangely calm) reaction to a bad round.

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19th Hole

Tiger Woods battles terrifying deep-sea creature, wins

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With four tweets since July 21st, Tiger Woods is exposing himself on social media in a way we haven’t seen.

And with his latest tweet, he’s…exposing himself in a way we haven’t seen.

A shirtless-and-swimsuited Woods appears holding what he purports to be a lobster (but what looks more like a monster of the deep sea).

Nothing like it, indeed.

He’s lucky to have escaped with his life after battling that horrifying crustacean. Spiny lobsters, apparently, don’t have claws, but somehow that doesn’t make them any less terrifying, as they look poised to impale you and carry you off to their reefy lairs.

Not sure how big the beast in Woods grasp actually is, but it pales in comparison to this 14-pound creature from your nightmares.

14_pound_lobster_caught_near_Bermuda_0_48217534_ver1.0_640_480Anyway, Woods has been on something of a grand tour of late it seems, taking in a friendly version of El Clasico in Miami and posing with Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez.

All of this is good to see. It was two months ago that Woods entered rehab following his now-infamous Memorial Day arrest for impaired driving.

What this portends for his future on the golf course is unclear, but you’d assume the 14-time major champion is feeling pretty good if he’s free diving after monsters of the deep.

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19th Hole

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