Many golfers believe forged irons are the pinnacle of the game. Using a set (even though today’s forged irons can suit everyone from a tour pro to an 18+ handicapper) is seen as a badge of honour, and often highlights golfers as well above average.
But the costs of forged models have spiralled. Just four years ago a great set of forged irons from one of the leading brands would cost you just over £700. Yet today a set of Mizuno, Callaway, TaylorMade or Srixon’s latest forged irons will set you back £1,055 (on average) – a price hike of 51% in 48 months!
TESTED: Best Forged Irons 2020
One brand is bucking that trend, though – Ben Hogan. You won’t find their clubs in pro shops or American Golf stores. Hogan operate a direct-to-consumer business through their website (and they’ve just opened a new one for European sales), which means you deal direct with the brand, and get a lower price, with full sets starting at less than £600.
Hogan was started back in 1953 by nine-time Major champion Ben Hogan. And the Hawk’s philosophy from the outset was to ensure golfers played as near perfect equipment as modern tools could make. So while the company has seen massive change since, Hogan today are dedicated to creating clubs that discerning golfers find aesthetically pleasing.
The thinking means the company refuses to play the loft jacking games that some brands use to boost ball speed and carry distance claims, as Hogan say any gain comes at the expense of proper distance gapping.
They use an online fitting tool which asks all the same questions as a good fitter. And there’s an opportunity to demo equipment through a 14-day trial which costs £35. Standard shipping (£37.22) of all products takes nine days, but there’s a three-day service too (£41.42).
TESTED: Irons ranked by forgiveness
Verdict: Ben Hogan PTx Pro irons
With Hogan making only forged irons and specifically targeting discerning golfers who put a premium on how their irons look, it made sense to put the PTx Pro (Hogan’s players’ model that isn’t a muscleback) up against some of our favourite forged players’ irons of 2020.
So we tested with TG test Pro Neil Wain, and included the Callaway Apex Pro 19, Srixon Z785, Mizuno MP-20 MMC and TaylorMade P790 for comparison.
On paper it’s apparent (as Hogan say themselves) the PTx Pro will struggle to compete directly with some of the very longest player models for ball speed and carry distance, because of its traditional lofts. They gave up 12 yards against TaylorMade’s P790. But that isn’t surprising when the 7-iron is 3.5° weaker. If distance is your prime consideration Hogan probably isn’t the right fit for you.
But what’s interesting to us is how, even when the PTx gave up loft to the Callaway, Srixon and Mizuno, there was no more than four yards difference in carry, which is tiny, considering the gulf in price.
Throw in how the PTx Pro is a seriously good looking model with lovely lines and some hollow and titanium core tech that you don’t get in all the other models and we reckon they’re a seriously good package, for sensible money. And you get a choice of three premium steel and one graphite shaft options, too.
If you know a bit about what you’re buying (that’s where we come in), it seems perfectly possible to get your hands on a beautiful set of forged irons in 2020 for less than £600.
A £600 budget means you’ll have to settle for a 6-PW set, and shipping will nudge the price up to £625, but you’ll still have £674 in your pocket over some leading models.
And that sounds like incredible value to us.
How the irons compare in data
Ben Hogan iron models
Ben Hogan Icon iron
RRP: £765 (4-PW), plus £37.22 shipping
Forgiveness rating: 1
The Icon is a brand new forged muscleback for 2020. As players would expect of any premium blade there’s a thin topline, minimal offset and a clean elegant head shape. Perfect for golfers who prioritise working and shaping iron shots on to the green.
Ben Hogan PTx Pro iron
RRP: £588 (6-PW); £666 (5-PW); £750 (4-PW), plus £37.22 shipping
Forgiveness rating: 2.5
The PTx Pro long and mid irons are hollow with forged faces. There’s tungsten toe weighting to straighten ball flight and add spin so shots hold greens. The short irons have lightweight titanium cores to give a lower and more penetrating ball flight and improved control.
Ben Hogan Edge iron
RRP: £540 (4-PW), plus £37.22 shipping
Forgiveness rating: 3.5
Hogan’s original 1980s Edge offered the feel of a player iron, but the forgiveness as cast game improver. This one follows the same idea. Thinner faces add speed in the long irons while extra thickness in the short irons offers better control.