©2008 World Golf Hall of Fame
William Benjamin Hogan (Ben Hogan) is widely acknowledged to have been the greatest ball striker ever to have played golf. Although he had a formidable record as a tournament winner, it is this aspect of Hogan which mostly underpins his modern reputation.
Hogan was known to practice more than any other golfer of his contemporaries and is said to have "invented practice". On this matter, Hogan himself said, "You hear stories about me beating my brains out practicing, but... I was enjoying myself. I couldn't wait to get up in the morning, so I could hit balls. When I'm hitting the ball where I want, hard and crisply, it's a joy that very few people experience." He was also one of the first players to match particular clubs to yardages, or references points around the course such as bunkers or trees, in order to improve his distance control.
Hogan thought that an individual's golf swing was "in the dirt" and that mastering it required plenty of practice and repetition. He is also known to have spent years contemplating the golf swing, trying a range of theories and methods before arriving at the finished method which brought him his greatest period of success.
Hogan is thought to have developed a "secret" which made his swing nearly automatic. His "secret", a special wrist movement known as "cupping under", was revealed in a 1955 Life magazine article,. However, many believed Hogan did not reveal all that he knew at the time. It has since been alleged in Golf Digest magazine that the second element of Hogan's "secret" was the way in which he used his right knee to initiate the swing and that this right knee movement was critical to the correct operation of the wrist.
Hogan revealed later in life that the "secret" involved cupping the left wrist at the top of the back swing and using a weaker left hand grip (thumb more on top of the grip as opposed to on the right side). Hogan did this to prevent himself from ever hooking the ball off the tee. By positioning his hands in this manner, he ensured that the club face would be slightly open upon impact, creating a fade (left to right ball flight) as opposed to a draw or hook (right to left ball flight).
Hogan is widely acknowledged to have been the best ball striker ever. His ball striking has been described as being of near miraculous caliber by very knowledgeable observers such as Jack Nicklaus, who only saw him play some years after his prime. Nicklaus once responded to the question, "Is Tiger Woods the best ball striker you have ever seen?" with, "No, no - Ben Hogan, easily".
PGA Tour wins (Source: Barkow 1989, pp. 261–262, From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)
He earned $8.50 for finishing 38th in his first tournament on the PGA Tour, the Los Angles Open, in 1932. He was off the tour by midseason because he was broke.
He qualified for his first U.S. Open in 1936, but missed the 36-hole cut at the Baltusrol Country Club in Springfield, N.J.
1938 (1) Hershey Four-Ball (with Vic Ghezzi)
1940 (4) North and South Open, Greater Greensboro Open, Asheville Land of the Sky Open, Goodall Palm Beach Round Robin
Hogan's first individual victory came at the North and South Championship at Pinehurst's famous No. 2 course in 1940. He shot an 11-under-par 277 to beat Sam Snead by three strokes. Within the next 10 days, Hogan won two more tournaments, the Greensboro Open and the Land of the Sky Tournament. In the 12 rounds during the three tournaments, he shot in the 60s 10 times.
1941 (5) Asheville Open, Chicago Open, Hershey Open, Miami Biltmore International Four-Ball (with Gene Sarazen), Inverness Invitational Four-Ball (with Jimmy Demaret)
1942 (6) Los Angeles Open, San Francisco Open, North and South Open, Asheville Land of the Sky Open, Hale America Open, Rochester Open
Ben Hogan signs autographs at the 1942 Hale America Open, which was held at Ridgemoor C.C. in Chicago, with proceeds going to the Navy Relief Society.
Since the USGA canceled all of its championships in 1942 due to America's involvement in World War II, the Hale America Open was held in its place, with proceeds going to the Navy Relief Society. Many of the game's top professionals showed up to participate. Ben Hogan, six years before he won the first of his four U.S. Open championships, won the event with a 271 total.
In 1943, Hogan was drafted and joined the U.S. Army on March 25. He rose to the rank of second lieutenant.
1945 (5) Nashville Invitational, Portland Open Invitational, Richmond Invitational, Montgomery Invitational, Orlando Open
1946 (13) Phoenix Open, San Antonio Texas Open, St. Petersburg Open, Miami International Four-Ball (with Jimmy Demaret), Colonial National Invitation, Western Open, Goodall Round Robin, Inverness Invitational Four-Ball (with Jimmy Demaret), Winnipeg Open, PGA Championship, Golden State Open, Dallas Invitational, North and South Open
Hogan won 13 events on the PGA tour in 1946, his first full year back after the war.
1947 (7) Los Angeles Open, Phoenix Open, Colonial National Invitation, Chicago Victory Open, World Championship of Golf, Miami International Four-Ball (with Jimmy Demaret), Inverness Invitational Four-Ball (with Jimmy Demaret)
1948 (10) Los Angeles Open, PGA Championship, U.S. Open, Inverness Invitational Four-Ball (with Jimmy Demaret), Motor City Open, Reading Open, Western Open, Denver Open, Reno Open, Glendale Open
1949 (2) Bing Crosby Pro-Am, Long Beach Open
Before his accident on Feb. 2, 1949, Hogan had won 11 of his previous 16 tournaments.
1950 (1) U.S. Open
Ben Hogan limped to victory at the 1950 U.S. Open just over a year after a near-fatal car accident left him with a broken collarbone and rib, a double fracture of the pelvis, and a fractured ankle. Like Woods, Hogan forced a playoff on the final hole, which he won the next day.
Ben Hogan 1950 U.S. Open
Copyright © 2008 Time Inc.
A Time Warner Company
Ben Hogan pulls out his famous 1 iron and slam's home on the 18th during the U.S. Open at Merion CC, PA. One of the most famous photo's in golf, Michael Heslop's Giclee reproduction print, signed with Certificate of Authenticity captures Hogan's power, yet calmness moving ahead to the end of the tournament which he won.
(@Golf Art Giclee.com)
1951 (3) The Masters, U.S. Open, World Championship of Golf
Many consider Hogan's finest round the 67 he shot on the final 18 holes in winning the 1951 U.S. Open at the par-70, 6,927-yard Oakland Hills Country Club in Birmingham, Mich. There was only one other subpar round during the four rounds, and the course played to an average score of 77. "I'm glad I brought this course -- this monster -- to its knee," said Hogan, who won by two strokes with a 287.
1952 (1) Colonial National Invitation
1953 (5) The Masters, Pan American Open, Colonial National Invitation, U.S. Open, The Open Championship (designated as a PGA Tour win in 2002)
In 1953, when Hogan became the only golfer to win three pro majors, it was physically impossible for him to try for the Grand Slam. The last two days of the PGA Championship were held the same days that Hogan was qualifying for the British Open.
1959 (1) Colonial National Invitation
Six years after starting the Ben Hogan Company, he sold it in 1960. He stayed on as president and worked on product development into the early '90s.
Hogan's last competitive round was played in May 1971 at the Champions Golf Club in Houston.
Ben Hogan seated on back of car
in homecoming parade on Broadway
Image by Dick DeMarsico,
NY World-Telegram and the Sun staff photographer
Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division
(From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)
Awards and Honors
• Member, World Golf Hall of Fame
• PGA Tour money leader 5 times
• PGA Tour Vardon Trophy winner 1940, 1941, 1948
• PGA Tour Player of the Year 1948, 1950, 1951, 1953
• Member of 2 U.S. Ryder Cup teams
• Captain, U.S. Ryder Cup team, 1947, 1949, 1967
Valerie Hogan and Dave Anderson wrote:
"...Of all the attributes my husband had, the one that I admired most was his integrity. When the Ben Hogan Company's first batch of irons came out in 1954, he took one look at those golf clubs and said, "Throw 'em away." To him, the irons weren't right. He had that analytical mind in everything that he did. If someone happened to put an ashtray where it didn't belong in our home, it annoyed him. "Why don't they put it back where it was?" he would say.
When that first batch of irons came out wrong, Ben knew he couldn't put them on the market. Not with his name on them. But one of his partners, Pollard Simon, a Dallas businessman and close friend, reminded Ben that they would be throwing away $100,000 worth of irons.
"We can fix them up," Pollard said.
"We cannot fix them up," Ben said.
When Pollard kept objecting, Ben bought him out right there and then. When Ben came home that night, he told me, "I lost a partner, but I kept my integrity. I would never put those clubs on sale. I can't do that to people and I'm not going to do it."
But that was the best $100,000 he ever threw away. It made the Ben Hogan Company all the better because people knew they could trust Ben to put out a golf club that was up to his standards, which everyone knew were very high..."
Copyright © 2008 Callaway Golf Company. Ben Hogan is a registered trademark of Callaway Golf Company.
Hogan on the golf course exemplified grim determination and a fiercely Irish - American competitive nature. With head down, eyes focussed upon his shoe laces and invariably puffing on a long cigarette, Hogan housed a low regard for idle chit-chat on the course; as Lee Trevino quickly discovered during their first pairing. Discussions with fellow professionals, if any, were along the lines of, "Who’s away?" "What did you score?" He simply hated to lose and worse, hated to hit a golf shot that was even just a little off perfect. Hogan had schooled himself on the art of not so much ignoring the crowd, but simply not seeing them!
The argument of ‘greatest ever’ will never be settled but Ben Hogan remains the most ruthlessly accurate ‘shotmaker’ the world has ever known. With precision as his trademark, he more closely courted ‘perfection’ than any golfer, before or since! Rest in peace ‘Mr Hogan’.
There also was the Hogan mystique. The visor of his white cap was always pulled low over his face. A man dedicated to the game, Bantam Ben (a nickname he disliked as he didn't think of himself as small at 5-foot-9, 160 pounds) was obsessed with practice, proud of the control he gained over the golf ball. He was a private person who didn't suffer fools, or almost anybody else, and his friendships were few and often short-lived. His concentration was so intense that he blocked out all but the golf course he was attacking. There was something foreboding about his cold stare, the way it seemed to intimidate other golfers.
"Those steel-gray eyes of his," a friend said. "He looks at you like a landlord asking for next month's rent."
Jimmy Demaret, one of his closest golfing companions (but that doesn't mean they were close), said he couldn't understand why people thought Hogan was so taciturn. "When I play with him, he talks to me on every green," Demaret said. "He turns to me and says, 'You're away.' "
When he wasn't joking, Demaret said, "Nobody gets close to Ben Hogan."
(Copyright ©2007 ESPN Internet Ventures)
It is a full decade now since the Hogan era ended, but the stimulation and chill attraction of the man refuse to recede. So intense was the aura of awe which grew around him that time has failed to dispel it. He was the Hawk then, the Ice Man and, as far as the public is concerned, he is the Hawk today. "Hi there, Byron," the people will shout. "Where's your pink shoes, Jimmy?" they will call. And then they see him, and they whisper, "It's Hogan."
- Alfred Wright, Sports Illustrated, April 5, 1965
RADAR DAN from Ohio says:
"The Hawk is truly a LEGEND in the game of golf. His legacy is admired, respected, and appreciated by all.
Ben Hogan, here on earth (1912-1997) His Legacy (1912-4EVER)"