In 2015, golf aficionados rejoiced at the re-birth of the Ben Hogan Company with golf clubs bearing the iconic Hogan medallion and script. Now, after seven years of starts, stops and starts again, the company has closed, at least for the time being and possibly for good.
The news, first reported by The Hackers Paradise, was confirmed to Golf Digest by Scott White, the company’s president and CEO. According to White, the company closed on Friday, July 22. The website is still operational but bears a banner noting it is unable to process orders due to “technical difficulties.”
“I am very proud of what we accomplished at the company over the last few years,” White wrote to Golf Digest in an email. “We had a great team and produced some excellent products that we think would have made Mr Hogan proud. We were simply underfunded and couldn’t pursue a lot of the more expensive initiatives that would have accelerated our growth.”
According to White, the company enjoyed its best year in 2021 since pivoting to a direct-to-consumer business model in 2017 and had an average revenue growth rate of 46.3 percent from 2017 to 2022. White said the company was break-even at an operating level in 2021 and would have achieved (and surpassed) profitability targets if not for supply and financial constraints.
Those constraints were driven by the COVID-19 pandemic. ExWorks Capital, LLC was the majority shareholder and manager of the board for the Ben Hogan Golf Equipment Company since its re-inception in 2017. It also acted as the company’s primary source of funding. However, ExWorks Capital ceased providing any financial support in late 2020 as its high-risk investment portfolio was negatively impacted by the pandemic. A search for new investors or funding proved unsuccessful and ExWorks Financial filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in March 2022.
The Hogan brand tried to regain its footing with a re-start in 2015 under the direction of Terry Koehler, a former Hogan director of marketing in the mid-1990s. At the time, Koehler’s Eidolon Golf entered into a licensing agreement with Perry Ellis (which owned the rights to the Hogan name) to produce Ben Hogan golf equipment.
Like most start-ups or re-starts, there were successes and missteps. The product the company produced was generally well received; however, it was aimed primarily at better players, limiting the audience. Add in a heavy reliance on the mystique of the Hogan brand and a unique (and some would say, confusing) numbering of clubs on the soles with their lofts instead of iron numbers minimised the company’s appeal.
In 2017, the company re-emerged under the direction of White, a longtime veteran of the golf equipment industry who implemented the direct-to-consumer strategy in an effort to control costs while acknowledging that while the better player was the primary audience, the company would seek to expand to a broader audience.
“There was a lot of discussion, a lot of gnashing of teeth, pulling of hair and even conversations about ‘Do we just close this thing down?’” White said at the time. “None of us wanted to do that because we all believe there is a place for the Ben Hogan brand in the golf industry.”
Sadly, that place appears to be no more.