Ben Hogan GS53 Fairway Wood – Official MGS Forum Review by AGutierrez7
Good morning, afternoon, or evening (depending at the time of when you read this), my name is A.J. and I am currently playing off a 15 handicap (fluctuates slightly). I do not hit the ball very far (working on a consistent strike pattern while cautiously adding speed). My short game is the best aspect of my golf game and I would describe the rest of my game as consistently inconsistent.
My current swing has a smooth tempo and is not very quick (sitting around 100 MPH driver swing speed). Here is a little gif of my swing with my 7 iron.
My ball flight is a cut usually (end up drawing the ball when I am swinging well), and my miss is a push fade (due to toe strike with an open face). As mentioned before, my current strengths of my game are my short game, and course management, and my weaknesses are my tee ball (struggling with my driver) and my iron game occasionally.
I currently game an ancient Condor Golf 3W (steel shaft, recently regripped) which was given to me as a hand-me-down, so I was not fit for it. I primarily use my fairway wood as a tee option (rarely for an attackable par 5), while I use my hybrid (currently gaming a 3H 18*) for those longer approaches and to escape after wayward tee shots. I sometimes take chances with aggressive lines to the hole, but only when I am feeling comfortable over the ball, and usually involves picking a line that is aggressive but offers a safe miss (conservatively aggressive I suppose). I can rarely reach par 5’s in 2 which is why I rarely use my fairway woods in those situations, and my usual club into par 4s is anywhere from a 7 iron to PW (rarely GW).
Ben Hogan claims that the GS53 is designed for accuracy first and foremost, and the face is forged. The score lines on the face are precision milled at “exact and consistent depths” to ensure bulge and roll brings the strikes toward the heel or toe are brought more on line and the trajectory of high or low strikes are tamed. Ben Hogan also claim that they are utilizing Flex Face technology to deliver a more active and responsive club face and create a larger effective hitting area; also utilizing a Speed Slot for enhanced aerodynamics and more club head speed.
At first, I was extremely excited to my hands on this club and this is why. I think that Ben Hogan is a world class golf OEM that delivers the most elegant golf equipment. In regard to the fairway wood, it is clean looking that is appealing to the eye (shallow face, and clean at address which I prefer). I chose the shaft (Mitsubishi Tensei Blue Regular Flex) because I thought it would best fit my swing speed and it is also the same model I play in my driver (which I really like the feel of).
My goals for this fairway wood are increased consistency in a fall back tee shot option, increased distance compared to my current gamer, and increased forgiveness on poor strikes. To hopefully achieve these goals I set out to test the club by spending approximately 3 hours a week practicing golf (hitting about 30-50 total shots with the 3 wood). I did collect some data with my SC100 (not the most accurate but it serves its purpose) that measures ball speed, club head speed, and carry distance. I also played at least one round of golf a week with the GS53 in the bag and tried to maximize its uses where I could (mostly as a tee option). My main source of testing material came from qualitative comparison between my current gamer and the GS53. I tried to consciously think about feel and confidence level between the two fairway woods.
Looks (8 out of 10 points)
The GS53 has a player-like head shape featuring a compact, shallow face, with a minimalistic design. The graphics are clean that do not become distracting at address which I enjoy. The overall look of the club is clean and a more subtle approach that looks professional in every aspect (which I fully expect from Ben Hogan). By comparison, this fairway wood has a smaller head size than most other OEM’s offerings. I thoroughly enjoy the classic black finish that Ben Hogan went with, it fits my eye perfectly. The only downside to the appearance of the GS53 is the lack of alignment aides which I think is an important feature, which is why I took two points off in this category.
Sound & Feel (9 out of 10 points)
As far as sound is concerned, the GS53 sounds silky smooth when struck in the center like a really clean pop sound. You can really tell when you strike it will, and when you strike it poorly. The best comparison I could make would be like a sharp strike with a fork on a large pan, but less of a “dingy” type sound, lower frequency probably. The feel of the GS53 is smooth, like as smooth as it sounds smooth, almost buttery smooth. The consistency is also impressive when it comes to mishits, I noticed that my heel and toe strikes were not as punishing as they used to be compared to my gamer. The GS53 sounds similar to my M3 Driver which also has a smooth pop sound. I definitely think the sound and feel affect my mental game because, depending on the feedback I get from the club, I have some form of reaction to the shot before I even see the flight. When I hear the nice smooth pop sound I know I hit it well so I can expect the flight to look good, and the opposite is also true (bad sound = bad flight). I will take a point off only because no one is perfect, clubs included .
Basic Characteristics (14 out of 20 points)
Now to get into the weeds of the GS53 slightly. I will begin with discussing the accuracy since that was one of Ben Hogan’s first claims. I would say that it is fairly accurate when struck well (a horrendous swing is not going to bode well), the GS53 seems to hold the intended line well with a stable ball flight. The ball flight is more mid to high, offering plenty of spin (probably too much spin I think). I personally do not have the skillset (not yet) to work the ball both ways so I cannot comment on the workability but based on the shot shapes I noticed on the course I was actually able to hit a draw (when my swing was on plane). I was getting the distance I expected out of it which I will cover in the next section. The forgiveness of the GS53 impressed me, from a consistency standpoint it did really well on keeping the ball on the planet (unless you sky it like I did once, photos to come). The club head of the GS53 is fixed so unfortunately there are no head settings to adjust, but it is pretty neutral club head so I feel like it would work for the vast majority of average golfers. I felt surprisingly comfortable over the ball with the GS53 in hand considering the short amount of time I have had with it. Overall, I was pleased with the forgiveness and possibility of workability the club possessed but found the lack of adjustability and slightly higher trajectory than I would like to be disappointing (which will reflect in the score of this section).
On-Course / LM Performance (20 out of 30 points)
I decided to test the GS53 against my current gamer (Condor Golf 3W) to see how they compared and if it would be worthwhile to make the switch. I utilized my SC100 that gives me basic data which is somewhat reliable (speed numbers can be off sometimes) to properly test the club.
I will note that the GS53 was a tad longer than my current gamer but I was able to produce consistent numbers more often with my current gamer. I would attribute that to comfortability with my gamer and my attempts to get used to swinging the GS53. As you can see in the numbers I provided, the GS53 performed slightly better than my current gamer, which I expected because of the gain in technology between the two. My longest shot with the GS53 measured at 203 yards (carry) while my gamer was 187 yards. So there was a decent amount of difference between my best shots with each club, which again, I expected.
I was not able to get enough on-course data as I would have liked but I will share the two shots I was able to measure and map out. I was playing at Falcon’s Fire in Kissimmee, Florida and was able to record a tee shot and a shot from the fairway of a par 5 (ignore the white lines on the images). First shot I measured was my 2nd shot on the 10th hole (par 5). I did not catch all of that one and only managed to hit it 176 yards (caught it heavy with an open face). I would probably rate the strike as 6 out of 10. The shot ended up in the bunker about 80 yard from the green, I was able to get out and walk away from that hole with a bogey.
The second shot I measured was my tee shot on the 14th (also par 5, but with trouble right). The strike felt off on this one but was not able to tell what it was (one handed finish for whatever reason) but I did get a bit more distance out of it measuring at 203 yards. I would rate the strike as 7 out of 10, although I did end up in the middle of the fairway. This shot left me about 260 yards from the green, so I hit an iron that left me about 115 but missed the green short with the approach shot. I chipped onto the green and two putted for a bogey.
From other shots that I failed to measure I did notice that the GS53 was able to hold greens whenever I did decide to attack the green. I did have an issue with a two-way miss, but I would attribute that to my swing more than the club. But when I was swinging well I noticed that I was able to draw the ball easily with this club which is unusual for me. I cannot truthfully comment about the club’s performance out of the rough, but I would say from fairways and tee boxes the club performed when struck well.
I believe the GS53 performed as expected for me, I did not notice any drastic changes in that part my bag, but I think in the long run I may notice some increased consistency. I think this club helped to reinforce my impression of Ben Hogan, as a classical company with tons of class. There is room for improvement in this club which I could see starting with developing a more forgiving appearing model (perhaps a deeper face, etc.) that would appeal to a bigger audience. I think that the shallow face may sway players from choosing this model over others. Ben Hogan did get the clean sole look right and I believe that they should continue with that design in future models. Overall, the Ben Hogan GS53 did not really improve my scores (well, maybe by like a stroke or two) but I think it is still too early to really determine, so I will keep an eye on my stats and see if I notice any improvement.
Miscellaneous (9 out of 10 points)
I am going to use the misc. category to touch on the overall durability of the club. The only reason I decided to do this is because I did make the grave mistake of skying a shot with this club. As soul crushing as the shot I was, I do not think the damage done truly reflected the punishment I gave this club.
As shown above, the club held up well and I have not noticed any performance issues after that. So I would say the club passes the durability test for me. Club appears to be constructed out of quality material, so I do not foresee any durability issues in the future.
Play it or Trade it? (12 out of 20 points)
This was a difficult section for me to write and I think I am on the fence on whether or not to play it or trade it. The club is more than likely an upgrade from what I am currently gaming but simply because my current gamer is around 15 years old. Therefore, if I decided to play it I would expect to see increased consistency and distance. Throughout this review process I only really noticed an increase in consistency, the distances were roughly similar. I would imagine this club could help me to play my best considering the increased consistency, but only with enough time. I will take points away in this section solely because I am still unsure if it has a place in my bag. Additionally, I believe the asking price may be slightly higher than I would think but I would relate the price directly to brand name. I think that a slightly stiffer shaft may suit me better than the regular flex I went with in hindsight. I would imagine that would help to knock some spin off and give me a bit more distance. The GS53 would best fit the golfer who prefers a shallow face fairway wood that appears as player-like as possible while maintaining a solid amount of forgiveness; also the player that does not spin their fairway woods enough and wants to attack more greens with it. I believe the first statement fits me but I already spin my clubs enough, so I do not think this club fully fits me as a golfer.
The GS53 from Ben Hogan is an intriguing piece of equipment that really catches the eye. The GS53 possesses a few different technologies, including Flex Face technology. I believe the club has some room to grow and probably is not for every player, but if you enjoy a shallow face with minimalistic graphics this may be the club for you. The sound is extremely professional, and the feel matches it, while the performance may not entirely be up to standard. Ultimately, I would suggest that someone considering this club should simply go get fit and determine if their swing characteristics match the characteristics of the GS53.
Final Score: (72 out of 100 points)
P.S. Apologies for the tardiness of my review, totally my fault and no excuses but I am glad that I was able to complete this review.