Three years ago marked the return of a beloved name to the game of golf and in particular golf equipment. Ben Hogan Golf Equipment Company launched their initial products at the 2015 PGA Merchandise Show – Demo Day under the watchful eye of then CEO Terry Koehler. The launch of the Ft. Worth irons and TK 15 wedges were met by attendees with enthusiasm. For a good reason too… the products were beautiful. I wondered how Ben Hogan would step it up the following year building on the success of their initial entries and golfers in 2016 were met by the classy and lavish PTx irons. I wrote a review at alexandertothgolf.com earlier this year. The irons were stunning only bested by their performance. At the same time, Ben Hogan also released their Ft. Worth hi irons as a more forgiving option to the original lower lofted Ft. Worth irons. The hollow forged design yielded great feel and a pleasantly aggressive ball flight. There was one more void that needed to be filled and that was a club for golfers who thought of long irons as “taboo”. The VKTR Hybrid would be the answer.
The VKTR Hybrid is designed with aesthetics and performance clearly at the forefront. Mr. Hogan was an innovator and had designs for a “hybrid” (as we now know it) dating back to the 1960’s. Clearly ahead of his time. When the “new” Ben Hogan Golf Equipment Company designed their first hybrid they wanted to present golfers a piece of art that would inspire confidence. Part of my problem in the past with hybrids was how they presented a large footprint at address. For this reason I was a long iron guy. The VKTR Hybrids come in five separate profiles and lofts start at 17* and progressing to 27*. Sticking with the theme of footprint size it’s important to note at this time that as the loft increases the volume (club head size) decreases (110 cc to 96 cc). The reason is twofold as the hybrids in the higher lofts are more pleasant to look at and it allowed the engineers at Hogan to move weight forward.
Engineers at Hogan also added a degree of adjustability to the VKTR Hybrids. Although there is no hosel adjustments Hogan through their Perimeter Shot Shape Technology (PSST) allows for 24 grams of movable weights around the perimeter of the head. The head is designed with a neutral bias but you can move the weights around to suit your needs. This means that you can adjust for left to right and high or low trajectories. Through research, Hogan (and other brands) found that most misses with hybrids occur low on the face. Personally speaking, my misses with hybrids are thin and left and Hogan addressed the “thins” by creating a “larger more effective impact zone along the bottom”. Also adding to the forgiveness is their V-SOLE technology found in their irons which improves turf interaction.
At Demo Day, I immediately went for one of their 18* models. This particular club was shafted with a UST Mamiya ReCoil 660 shaft. This shaft was a regular flex and as expected from a shaft like this the result was a smooth-swinging piece of equipment. As much as I loved the clean, classic look at address it was the feel that won me over. The acoustics were crisp and the resulting strikes emitted a sharp sound. A feeling that gave me the impression that the face was very responsive… which it was. I never did adjust the weights but the resulting flights were of a consistent and penetrating trajectory. I think predictable would be a suitable adjective. My focus shifted towards the 23* and it’s hard not to talk about how precise the “gapping” in your set can be with Hogan. The VKTR Hybrids seemingly meld into the iron offerings which creates a “flow” to your set. Designers made the VKTR Hybrids to have a steeper landing angle and when compared to other hybrids I would say that engineers succeeded. However, it would be more telling to see these in action on the course. Going back to the aesthetics the VKTR is a handsome club and I love the red paintfill and ferrules with the red stripes. Also, designers of the VKTR were a little cheeky. If you look closely at the adjustable weight screws you will notice that there is a resemblance to the old Hogan “medallion”. All of it is a retro throwback to yesteryear.
As the calendar turns to 2017 it’s fun to think about what Ben Hogan will come out with next. One would be led to believe that it would be fairway metals or maybe even a driver. Or will Ben Hogan stick with their bread and butter and stay out of that game? In the interim they have the VKTR Hybrids to compliment the beautiful irons in their stable. Folks… Mr. Hogan would be proud. Check them out at benhogangolf.com