Ben Hogan Golf – What Would You Do?

Hi everyone and thanks for stopping by! Callaway’s recent signing of Ernie Els got people talking about Callaway/Hogan/Top Flite and more specifically the future of Ben Hogan Golf. Would Els sign on to play both Callaway and Hogan equipment? Would they move Els to the Hogan side of things to bring life to the company? If not… where is the Hogan brand going?

SirPutts and I had some time at work today and started talking about some of the different theories around Hogan Golf. Callaway picked up the company a few years ago and really hasn’t done a whole lot with it. The brand is filled with tradition and it would be a shame to see it die off. We surfed around the net, gathered a few of the Hogan theories and thought we’d look at them a bit more…

Callaway will sell Ben Hogan off… it was a throw in when Callaway bought Top Flite

When the news first broke that Callaway had bought Hogan this was the first thing that came to my mind. I think the big prize in the deal was Top Flite and the golf ball manufacturing ability it possessed. The idea of selling off Hogan makes some sense. If they’re not going to do anything with it… is there a point in hanging onto it? Some will argue that the Hogan brand is too much of an asset to discard but is this asset costing more than it’s bringing in? The majority of the industry people I talk to figure Callaway will either sell Hogan or simply disband it.

Make Ben Hogan an elite, custom brand consisting of high end irons

This is a theory that has been floating around recently and it is pretty interesting. TaylorMade has it’s TP line… why couldn’t Callaway have their own “players” line? Hogan’s bread and butter are their forged irons. Why don’t they get rid of the woods, balls and hybrids and tighten up the line? Stress the forged heads and custom fitting… things that appeal to the better player.

The biggest downside here is the target market size. There aren’t that many golfers that can hit a forged blade or players cavity. It’s all about making money… why would a company put a lot of time, effort and money into marketing a brand to a very small group of people? Sure you would get some Tour usage but those guys don’t buy their clubs!

The SirPuttsAlot Theory – Make Hogan a value brand like Cobra is to Titleist

An interesting theory. Cobra targets the higher handicap with the smaller budget… why couldn’t Hogan be a similar brand? It’s kind of a 180 but the Hogan name is still pretty popular amongst golfers. Why not use Callaway technology to produce a Big Bertha style wood line and brand these with the Hogan name? You can still keep the Hogan line small but have it target a totally different group of players. I think you’d keep Callaway as is… just add another Hogan influenced “players” iron the mix. The biggest downside that I see could be some customer confusion. People have been trained to think certain things about certain brands. Would a total change in company focus confuse customers?

The SirShanksAlot Theory – No change… just a few tweaks

I see two totally different brands that can co-exist in the right environment. Callaway is one of the biggest golf companies in the world and there is no reason that Ben Hogan should even try to compete with them. Callaway should continue to take center stage and Hogan will just have to get used to sitting off to the side. I think the Hogan brand is too big of an asset to dump and it’s still got enough brand power that it could come back and bite Callaway if sold to a savvy group of investors (or a rival company).

I think there is still some room for a tweak or two though. I’d ditch the wood line… it just doesn’t stack up. Make the company an all iron one… but unlike one of the other theories… keep the irons right where they are. I think Hogan irons are about as “high end” as they need to be. Don’t make them too expensive where only the elite can look at them. Keep the line tight… offer a value iron (something like the BH-5) and 2-3 irons designed for the low-mid handicap. I’d offer a redesigned hybrid in 4 lofts, a forged wedge and a small accessory line. I know the golf balls have some fans but I’d get rid of them. I think the trick to keeping the Hogan line afloat is to keep it small enough that it doesn’t have to rely on Callaway to keep it going.

They really need to push the history of the line in any advertisements they do. Have people talk about their first experience with Hogan clubs and really get people thinking with their hearts and not their wallets. Wilson tried this type of marketing when they relaunched the Staff line and I think it would work with Ben Hogan.

Your Theory – What do you think?

Now it’s your turn. If you were running the show what would you do? Do you ditch it, do you save it, do you tweak it? Send us an email with some thoughts and we’ll post the results in a few days. We look forward to hearing from you!

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