Before starting this piece I need to give thanks to Tyler Brewton. Mr. Brewton is the Director of Marketing for Ben Hogan Golf Equipment Company. Without Mr. Brewton, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to test and review the subjects under review. Thanks for the opportunity Tyler!!

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They sort of have a glow to them, don’t they?

Wedges. Other than putters these are the clubs in the bag of any golfer that I look at and think about a couple of things. They are an intimate golf club in that golfers sometimes (like myself) look to create a bond with them. They are a club that we need to trust and a club that we look towards to save us a stroke here and there along the way. Also, other than a putter, wedges are the most likely the club(s) that you’d likely find yourself using the most during the course of a golfing season.

2015 saw the re-birth of a brand lost on the golf world after a fairly lengthy hiatus. Dating back to the 2015 PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando, Florida anticipation grew as Ben Hogan Golf Equipment was back in the golf manufacturing business. That January, attendees to the show were witness to exciting new golf clubs. Launched at this time was the Ft. Worth 15 irons and their brethren the TK Wedges (named after their creator and President of the new Ben Hogan Golf Terry Koehler). These irons and wedges left a very good impression on attendees (consisting of industry professionals) and especially this writer. I admitted that when the show ended I wanted to play them while I was competing in Mini-Tours but my budget didn’t allow it. Following their initial launch, 2016 was another exciting year as Ben Hogan Golf Equipment released their first and only foray into hybrids (VKTR), the FT. Worth HI irons and they ultra-elegant PTx irons which still resonate with me several years later. 2018 would be a year pf great momentum for the Ben Hogan Golf Equipment Company. In 2018, Ben Hogan Golf released a variety of soft goods (duffle bags, backpacks, caps, and accessories) and several new product releases which included the Ft. Worth White and Ft. Worth Black Irons, their new Edge irons and the Equalizer wedges. As you’ve already seen from the title it is these wedges that are the focus of this review.

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Rustic. A throwback to the past.

The Equalizer wedges have an interesting history. Back when Mr. Hogan was playing competitively it was his competitors that referred to his pitching wedge as an Equalizer”. While Mr. Hogan (in comparison to his peers) wasn’t the longest during his playing career it was his short game that set him apart propelling him to the legendary career that he had. In designing wedges, Mr. Hogan also firmly believed that too much weight set in the sole led to inconsistency.

After my discussions with Mr. Brewton and learning that I was going to be receiving the opportunity to test and review the Equalizer wedges, I became very excited. Having admired them for some time since their release (through digital platforms) knowing that I would have this wedges in hand got my “juices” running. I had to know if they were as pretty as they looked. More on that to come shortly.

The Pre-Shot Routine

The Equalizer wedges from Ben Hogan Golf are forged from 1025 Carbon Steel. This material makes for creating club heads that provide unsurpassed feel and feedback that is second to none. In a time where most wedges in the industry are cast the fact that the Equalizer wedges are forged offers a distinct advantage.

When it comes to the issue of shots ballooning most golfers instinctively think that this is an issue relegated solely to drivers. This is not the case. Have you ever noticed that your ballflight with the wedges is a tad inconsistent? Mass low in the head was something that Mr. Hogan disagreed with and this fact was reflected then and it is now in these Equalizer wedges. The lower the loft (i.e. 48°) mass is shifted further up the face which aids in preventing ballooning and excessive spin while increasing accuracy. As the loft increases mass is placed lower in the head to assist with green holding stopping power and “popping” the golf ball up, on those finesse shots from around the green.

 

Faces on the Equalizer wedges are 100% CNC-milled. This process is time-consuming and expensive but is a noticeable change from offerings from competitors. The milling provides consistency in the manufacturing process which also yield tighter spec tolerances while providing maximum spin. The grooves of the Equalizer wedges are the maximum allowable set-out in guidelines by golf’s major governing bodies (R &A  and the USGA).

Turf interaction is extremely important and the more versatile a wedge is the more valuable a wedge can become in helping to shoot lower scores. Ben Hogan Golf Equipment identified this in designing the Equalizer wedges. The Equalizer wedges feature “an improved V-Sole Design”. By combining a higher bounce leading edge and a lower bounce trailing edge the design team at Ben Hogan Golf designed the Equalizer wedges to allow for “easy manipulation of the clubhead without changing the loft no matter if you are facing downhill, uphill or even sidehill lies. V-Sole truly is the most versatile sole in golf”.

 

The Transition

(What I tested: Equalizer wedges 48°, 52°, and 56°. All wedges were shafted with KBS Tour V in Stiff flex. Stock Ben Hogan by Lamkin Grips)

When the box arrived from Ben Hogan Golf arrived I was elated. Finally, I was going to see for myself what these wedges truly looked and felt like. I opened the box and inside sat three wedges. Usually, the first thing that I notice during an unboxing of golf clubs is the head but that wasn’t the case at all. The first thing that I noticed was actually the grips. While I really like the blue and grey contrast of the grips what caught my eye was Mr. Hogan’s signature on the grips. Just the fact that his name was emblazoned on these grips added to the class of these clubs. From a tactile standpoint, I loved the feel of these grips (by Lamkin) in my hands. I also need to point out that the thank-you card and stickers were a nice little touch.

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Then I removed the plastic from the first head. It was that moment that I realized that in my hands were the prettiest wedge that I’ve ever laid my eyes on. From an aesthetics standpoint if I had to rate them out of 10 they might very well get an “11”. If you look at the picture above you’ll observe the soft, rounded shape. You’ll also see the milling of the face with special attention being placed on the grooves. However, the aesthetics don’t simply stop there. The milling on the rear of the head is exquisite and the paintfill is classy as one might expect of anything bearing the name of the legendary golfer. Even the ferrules (red stripes on black) have a “retro” feel to them. I just love easy the Equalizer wedges are on the eyes and the satin finish definitely help.

Feel The feel is real. Much can be said of the 1025 Carbon Steel that as used in the manufacturing of the Equalizer wedges. My initial swings were into nets and indoor dome sessions. What really caught my attention during these passes was the feel at impact. Not only do the Equalizer wedges feel great through impact (the hitting area) the feel of impact is even better. I would describe the sound like an “aggressive click”. I have never felt or heard what I did from a wedge prior. There was a combination of “power and feel” with the 48° and 52° while the 56° was “silky soft and pure”. Quite honestly, I couldn’t wait to take these wedges outside and quite frankly I was already forming a very strong opinion of these Equalizer wedges without hitting a shot greenside or outdoors for the matter. I actually had to coach myself to slow down from making a premature judgment on them.

I had plans on putting them to the test in January during PGA Show week but due to Winter Storm Harper travel plans were cut short therefore eliminating any designs on playing golf. Instead, this would happen in March.

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Performance – March was an exciting time. I managed to get away for a few days towards the end of March and I wasted no time finally seeing the Ben Hogan Equalizer wedges in action. The conditions at Terrace Hill Golf Center in Temple Terrace, Florida were difficult. There was a hurting wind (3 clubs) blowing right into my face. Having never seen any sort of ballflight before I started slow and low with hitting some simple chips and pitch shots. The feel in my hands on these “finesse” shots was so pleasing. My hands and head loved the feel as the ball came off of the face. As I loosened up I started to lengthen out and make swings with a little more purpose. All of these swings resulted in tight draws, seemingly unaffected by the wind and tidy divots. I think the fact that the ball flight wasn’t affected by the wind speaks volumes of the “Progressive Center of Mass System” that Ben Hogan Golf R&D incorporated into the design of the Equalizer wedges.

As my testing transitioned from the range to the course I was just as impressed. My first approach shot was into the wind into a green that was hard. I used a Bridgestone Golf e12 Soft (in testing as well) and was impressed that this “tweener” shot landed and stopped 8 feet from the pin. What an amazing first impression! I would further test the Equalizer wedges with other golf balls that are being tested and the more that I used these Equalizer wedges the more comfortable and impressed I became with them. No matter the green or the shot whether full approach or greenside the first round played using the Equalizer wedges left me extremely impressed.

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Testing would move from a course that firm to another golf course (Sanlan Golf Course in Lakeland, Florida) that offered softer conditions. While the balls weren’t the same, shot in and shot out what didn’t change were the results. the versatility of the V-Sole was/is fantastic. What’s more? There was no digging or issues with turf interaction. At one point, I played through a torrential downpour and the course softened up in a real hurry. Just to elaborate a little more on turf interaction the 56° popped the ball with ease out of bunkers. The Ben Hogan Equalizer wedges flat-out performed and gained my trust in a real hurry.

The Finish

If there was one thing that I could change about this testing it’s that I didn’t take advantage of the free length, loft and lie adjustments. I went standard everything while I should have requested my 2° flat. However, seeing that I never had issues with my shots errantly flying left it obviously wasn’t an issue. These are wedges that are elegant, exquisite and exude class. As a result of Ben Hogan Golf Equipment offering their products at “factory-direct pricing” (#NoRetailMarkUp) that means that you get phenomenal value for your golf consumer dollars. In what world can you purchase a forged wedge for $100 USD with either a steel (KBS Tour) or graphite (UST Mamiya Recoil) shaft? Well, I guess the answer to that question is in Ben Hogan Golf’s world via online purchases. If you’re in the market for new wedges, look no further than Ben Hogan Golf Equipment Golf and the Equalizer wedges. The Equalizer wedges come in both left AND right-handed options with two finishes being available. Black and Chrome. For more information please visit https://benhogangolf.com/products/equalizer-wedges

Until The Next Tee!!

#FightAndGrind #SeeUOnTheNextTee

 

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Ace. By definition according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary is defined as

“a person who excels at a particular sport or other activity.”

When it comes to the game of golf there is no doubt in my mind (or any golf fan or observer for that matter) that Eldrick Tiger Woods is an ace. But the term ace has another reference. An ace is also the term that dates back to World War I for a fighter pilot that collects five confirmed kills (shoots down 5 enemy aircraft during aerial combat). By this definition, Tiger Woods is also an ace as with his victory on Masters Sunday became an Ace of Augusta National Golf Course and The Masters Tournament. Only Mr. Jack Nicklaus has more with 6 victories at Magnolia Lane.

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One Day!!

Before I continue I just wanted to reiterate a few things. These are things that some of my regular readers already know about me but some newcomers may not. Admittedly, I have never been much of a Tiger Woods fans as I readily admit in this Tweet from today.

However, what you also need to know is that I’ve never disputed that he’s been the greatest of this generation. I’ve always admired Tiger’s command of the game, his dominance over his competition of this generation (and at times golf course architects) and the fact that he brought golfers to the game of golf who in all likelihood would have never picked up a golf club in the first place. The reality is that nobody has ever nor will anyone move the needle like Tiger has. It’s because of Tiger that his peers play for millions of dollars. One other thing that I wanted to point out is that I never wrote off Tiger like so many of my contemporaries have… I said well in advance of his showings in 2018 that it was inevitable that he’d be back.

It’s been often said that you have to sink to the very depths of rock-bottom before you can truly rise again. While I’m not going to beat the living daylights out of this subject let’s just quickly summarize some of the events that have transpired with Tiger that led to today’s comeback.

  • The passing of his father (Earl)
  • The issues at home with ex-wife Elin and the infamous 9-iron incident (not discounting other family issues that we didn’t know about that occurred behind closed doors)
  • His driving while impaired (which I was very unaccepting and critical of. There’s never a good excuse for this)
  • Multiple back surgeries
  • Hater’s hating and writing him off (I’m sure that didn’t bug him… but I don’t know him)
  • The short game yips (which ties in to above)

And I’m certain that there are points that I’m leaving out. Basically, Tiger Woods ran a gauntlet to get him to this particular point in time… and history.

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Frustration at the 2018 Open Championship at Carnoustie

Golf and Tiger fans alike saw the signs of great things to come over several events in recent history. Sure there was his recovery from injury following the most recent procedures on his back. The world was buzzing over social media every time Tiger picked up a wedge, or a driver and showed us a video of him swinging it. There were signs of competitive progress when he finished 9th in an abbreviated field at the 2017 Hero World Challenge. That single event would springboard Tiger to several top finishes in 2018. Events like his 12th place finish at the Honda Classic. Later that month his T-2 at the Valspar Championship and then a T-5 at the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill. The month of May saw a Top-10 at The Player’s Championship. July saw even more progress and more encouraging signs of Tiger returning to form with top finishes at the Quicken Loans National and The Open Championship at Carnoustie. The PGA Championship at Bellerive in August fans were witness to another top finish in a Major Championship which led us into the Fed Ex Cup Playoffs. It was at the Tour Championship when he won his 80th title and everyone was saying that he was back. As far as I’m concerned at the time his form was back but he wasn’t.

That changed on April 14th, 2019 on Masters Sunday. Overall, the 2019 Masters Tournament was as exciting as it gets. The number of player’s that were in contention every day of the tournament was staggering and names like Fleetwood (my pick… didn’t turn out), Langer, Corey Conners, DeChambeau, Koepka, and Woods that were there after the first round. After Round 2 we saw DeChambeau slide out and making moves were Adam Scott, Jason Day and Francesco Molinari. When the dust settled after Round 3 we saw a lurking Tiger waiting to pounce on the field, Tony Finau, Brooks Koepka, and Ian Poulter very in contention which further set up the exciting finish on Sunday.

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Jubilation

I’m not going to give a recap of the final round because we all know what happened but let’s just say that Sunday was a day that was very different on so many levels. With severe weather threatening Augusta, Georgia the tee times were moved up in an effort to avoid the dreaded Monday finish. It was a fantastic decision made by The Masters Tournament Committee and it was a day like we have never seen before. We had previous major champions in contention (Molinari and Koepka both of whom outlasted Woods in major’s in 2018) at the top of the leaderboard. According to reports, after bogeying the 4th and 5th hole it was his caddie (Joe LaCava) that woke him up.

“Never lose the tenseness, but be loose out there. Don’t carry the weight of the world on your shoulders.” – Caddie Joe LaCava to Tiger Woods

On the 15th hole, Woods catapult into the lead and the rest is history. Then came the magical walk up the 18th, the final putt and the roars that shook the fabrics of the Earth. Making it even better was that his mother, daughter, and son were there to be in his arms after that final putt. The way that life intended it to be. Exultation. Redemption. Accomplishment.

Like I said in my Tweet. “If you don’t truly appreciate this for what it truly is. You have no soul”. Many of us have been through our own trials and tribulations. I have and continue to do so after my stroke in September. Recently, I played my first round of golf since that stroke. While it wasn’t the same thing from an accomplishment level as what Tiger just did I understand what it means to fight, grind, scratch, and claw your way back.  It’s because of his fighting and grinding why I appreciate this win more than any of Tiger’s previous 80. Congratulations Tiger! Now you’re back.

Tiger’s Winning WITB

M5 Fairway | 13°

M3 Fairway| 19°

Milled Grind Wedges | 56° & 60°

Golf Ball – Bridgestone Golf TOUR B XS

 

 

Until The Next Tee!!

#fightandgrind #seeuonthenexttee

 

 

Well, I made it. After being in Florida back in January for the PGA Show and a planned trip that I canceled two weeks ago I’m in Florida. A 3 hr bus ride to Buffalo, NY and a wonderful flight once again on Frontier Airlines and I’m basking in the Tampa sun. A trip that will see me go fly fishing, practice golf, hopefully, go home with a swing and of course play and conduct several testings. Most of the golf ball variety. All of this before I resume working at the same golf course that I worked at in 2018 until I had my Stroke. Scenic Woods Golf Course which is a GolfNorth Properties facility. God! I can’t wait!

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Today was without a doubt the most gratifying day of golf that I’ve experienced. I just couldn’t wipe the smile off of my face. I was just elated to be back doing what I love. I spent the majority of my day at Terrace Hill Golf Center in Temple Terrace, FL. At any rate the product testing.

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So what are the products that I’m testing down here in Florida? The most important of the bunch is the Equalizer wedges from Ben Hogan Golf Equipment Company. Up until now, testing of these wedges has amounted to basing everything on feel and/or limited ball flight in a golf dome. Getting these clubs outside and seeing them perform as they were intended to do so was worth the wait. These Equalizer wedges are even better than I thought. The feel, the ballflight (these wedges penetrate) and some clear stopping power on firm greens that were/are dried out by the wind. I am beyond impressed. I’ll finally be able to write this review sooner than before later. If you need wedges… Look no further. These wedges are the best bang for your golfer buck!

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Another product that I was sent for testing were tees by ZoomTee USA. The premise of these tees is to give golfers the option of playing tees that are extremely durable, a tee that’s designed to produce less drag which is said to result in longer, straighter drives. Also of note here is the addition of a height guide for getting the golf ball teed u at just the right height and a tip that’s used for cleaning your grooves and repairing ball marks. I used only one tee and there was no sign of breakage thus far and ZoomTee USA was also very easy to locate after the shot. No scanning the ground looking for your pesky golf tee. It’s a minor thing, but it is a way to help maintain the pace of play. I also found ZoomTee USA was easy to get into the ground. Although, the soil here in Florida is quite sandy. It’ll be interesting to see how they penetrate the clay-based soil at home.

Balls, balls and more balls. I am testing golf balls ‘o’ plenty while I’m down here. No less than 6 different models. Testing has officially begun of…

  • TaylorMade Golf (TP5 and TP5x)
  • Srixon Golf (Z Star)
  • Wilson Staff DUO Professional
  • Bridgestone Golf (e12 Soft and e12 Speed)

It was an interesting first day of testing and with that, I have a few thoughts.

  1. The TaylorMade TP5 and TP5x seem to really have a penetrating ball flight as advertised. Early indications are that this golf ball is a strong golf ball in the Tour ball market. All-around great feel (TP5 a little softer) and I can see why Rickie Fowler switched from the Titleist Pro V1. There’s a reason why the ball is hyped.
  2. Not that it’s a bad thing. I wasn’t blown away through Day One of testing of the 2019 Srixon Z Star. To me, this iteration of the Z Star is solid. I’ve always liked the Z Star and have a lot of familiarity with it. Maybe that’s why I wasn’t blown away. It felt too familiar.
  3. Where I wasn’t blown away by the previous ball if there was a ball that I was very impressed with thus far it HAS to be the Wilson Staff DUO Professional. This golf ball was long with irons (albeit downwind) and the short game spin of this golf ball was extremely impressive. This ball STOPPED on greenside chips and pitches. I didn’t have it in play for any driving holes.
  4. Bridgestone Golf developed the e12 with 12 years of golf ball data taken from their ball fitting data. What they came up with were the e12 Soft and e12 Speed. Just from a putting standpoint (this was the first part of the testing) I wasn’t enamored with the “firmer” e12 Speed. It felt too clicky or too firm. But then all of that suddenly changed. This ball actually felt pretty soft and responsive on full iron swings. Into a hurting wind, I was able to find the green pin high from 182 yards away with a 5-iron. Judging by the flags and wind I figure it was a 1.5 to 2 club wind. Never be too hasty in being judgmental folks! The e12 Soft I liked right away. I liked the feel of the e12 Soft when it came to putting, my first drive of 2019 was with the e12 Soft (Red) and it just carried down the fairway into the wind and it penetrated. My approach into the firm, wind-swept green resulted in no severe rollout (settling 8′ from the pin) and greenside chips and pitches I thought it performed better than the e12 Speed and as good as one of the tour-level golf balls.

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Today was just the beginning of what I have planned down here. So stay tuned for more information as I test products, write reviews and enjoy some March golf in sunny Florida.

Until The Next Tee!!

#FightAndGrind #SeeUOnTheNextTee