Ben Hogan golf clubs are launching a comeback in Fort Worth.
Perry Ellis International and Eidolon Brands, a Victoria golf club manufacturer, announced a deal on Tuesday to introduce a new set of Ben Hogan-branded golf clubs in 2015, which would mark the first new Hogan clubs on the market in seven years.
The Ben Hogan Golf Equipment Co. will be based in Fort Worth under the direction of Terry Koehler, a former director of marketing for the Ben Hogan Co. who is president and CEO of Eidolon. Eidolon was formed in 2011 and manufactures a line of wedges under the SCOR4161 name.
Hogan, who died in 1997 at the age of 84, was a longtime Fort Worth resident and world-renowned golf legend. He won nine major championships and was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1974.
He was also known for his recovery from a near-fatal car accident in 1949, and subsequent return to pro golf.
Now, it’s the clubs bearing his name that will be making the comeback.
“This company will be totally devoted to all the ideals we know from Mr. Hogan,” Koehler told the Star-Telegram. “Our benchmark here is, ‘What would Mr. Hogan do?’ ”
Hogan launched an equipment manufacturing company in 1953, and during its heyday in the 1970s and ’80s the business employed up to 500 workers in Fort Worth.
Hogan was known to hand-test prototype clubs. In a 1953 letter to pro shops across the United States, Hogan announced that his clubs “shall be as near perfect as modern day tools and instruments can perform.”
In 2003, the Ben Hogan Co. was bought by Callaway Golf. Production was moved out of state and eventually ceased.
The new Ben Hogan Golf Equipment Co. will employ 40 to 60 people during the next two years, Koehler said. The company set up a temporary manufacturing facility in March in south Fort Worth, and is looking for a permanent location in the city. The company is maintaining an online presence at benhogangolf.com, where information on job opportunities and other business matters will be updated as needed.
“Our full, custom operation will be in Fort Worth,” said Koehler, who describes himself as a life-long Hogan devotee. “It’s an opportunity to maybe right some wrongs and create a great business opportunity.”
In keeping with tradition, he said, the emphasis will be on producing high-quality irons.
“We’ve got some technology developing that is going to be a major impact on the irons market,” he said. “Our focus is on building the most precise, perfected set of irons that has ever been done. We’re not going to chase these four- to six-month product cycles because it’s not good for business and it’s not good for the golfers.”
Hogan was also known for winning the inaugural Colonial tournament in 1946, and winning four other titles at the event now know as the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial Country Club. This year’s Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial will be played May 19-25.
Some golf aficionados typically credit Hogan with putting Colonial Country Club on the map among pro golfers, although Hogan once said the Colonial tournament did more for his career than he did for the event.
“Ben Hogan and his golf company were, and always should be, Fort Worth treasures,” Koehler said.
In 2012, Callaway sold the Ben Hogan brand to Perry Ellis, which now produces a line of Ben Hogan apparel and accessories, said spokesman Stuart Goldstein.
Oscar Feldenkreis, president of Perry Ellis International, said in a statement that the apparel company was approached by numerous parties interested in developing Hogan golf clubs.
“As we became more acquainted with Terry Koehler and Eidolon Brands, it became clear that this company exhibits the values, spirit and passion that Ben Hogan always represented to the golf community,” Feldenkreis said.
Koehler said his father played golf with Ben Hogan and introduced him to Hogan clubs at a young age. He said designers are already at work on the new Hogan club designs.
“We are studying all the things Mr. Hogan believed about golf clubs, and dissecting early Ben Hogan designs to understand his performance principles and knowledge of what a golf club should do,” Koehler said.