Originally Posted by iacas
In the recent GolfWorld, they said Ben Hogan's 1953 irons were, on average, 2.5 degrees weaker than modern day clubs.
I think that's a lot less than many people would believe.
Hogan was famous for being fastidious about his equipment. I recall reading a story where before a round, his fellow pros saw Hogan looking at a new box of balls with a magnifying glass and occasionally discarding a ball. One of them asked him why he was throwing out these news balls. Hogan's reply was, "Too much paint in some of the dimples." I didn't read the GolfWorld story, but having seen other writeups about Hogan's clubs, I recall they were quite custom. Shorter than standard, some varying swingweights and lie angles. Arguably, he was decades ahead of everyone in terms of attention to his equipment. I wouldn't be surprised if he jacked his lofts slightly (compared to standard of the day) to give him a mental edge.
I think if you look at 9-iron lofts from '70s and '80s (sourcing from Maltby's book) you pretty much see lofts in the 45 - 48 degree range. You even have the Hogan Apex PCs (mid 1980s?) being the outlier with a 49 degree 9-iron. As comparison, even a modern blade like the Titleist MBs have a stated 9-iron loft of 43 degrees - a club and a half stronger than the Hogan PCs. Certainly if you get into the cavity back arena at least on paper things get a little crazy. The Callaway X2 9-iron is a stated 39 degrees. BUT as you point out, loft is just one factor in distance and trajectory. I think this all gets back to having to hit the clubs and not just look at the specs.