Back when I first started playing golf Maggie Thatcher was prime minister, the Poles were rejecting Communism, the mullet was a popular hairstyle with footballers and Progen was one of the brands I was considering for my first full set of clubs - along with Petron, Wilson Sam Snead and EZ3.
In the intervening years Progen went the way of Maggie, Communism and the mullet until last week when I was invited to represent Golfmagic at the official rebirth of the brand.
Progen has new owners (along with many brands that survive from the late 1980s) and, as I discovered from the launch at the Cambridgeshire Hotel beside the M11, they’re a lively bunch with tons of energy.
That drive has been put into developing two new Progen ranges of clubs - the Haema and the Chromo - both squarely aimed at the new golfer.
Both sets of woods and irons have been given a distinctive colour scheme - red and black for Haema and and attention-grabbing green and black for Chromo and it's obvious that some serious design work has been undertaken in development.
As Progen’s basic range Haema clubs are priced to be attractive to golf beginners and those on a restricted budget. However, quality is good and they feel robust - far more than we might expect for clubs costing around £250 mark for a full set of irons, hybrids, woods, a putter and a carry bag.
Chromo range also represents superb value at RRP £399 for a set of irons which incorporate technology similar to what we might expect in premium a brand and come with Rifle shafts as standard.
But as we all know, looks alone aren’t enough so it was off to the driving range to see if performance matched looks and price. And I have to report that these clubs really are very good.
The Haema irons get the ball airborne quickly and consequently are very playable. Each looks solid at address and will doubtless inspire confidence. The Chromo range is more refined; the irons sit well at address and deliver a more powerful and penetrating ball flight. Each range is complemented with hybrids and fairway woods which are easy to hit, while the Chromo driver looks powerful and gets the ball out there.
For a budget driver it represents incredible value for money.
Progen has also introduced a range of wedges and putters.
I tried the 52, 56 and 60-degree wedges and while undoubtedly well made clubs they’re just a bit on the chunky side for my personal taste.
The putters were a little heavy for me, though I could be tempted by the mid mallet, with its hexagonal milled face.
Progen have golf bags accompany both ranges and these also looked well designed, too.
Brand snobs might shy away from even giving this new Progen equipment a chance but it’s clear that they are not Progen’s target market. Personally as a golfer of many years experience I was very impressed with the production values and quality on show, particularly in the Chromo range.
The Progen brand is back but not what it was - it's much better than that!