Ben Hogan: Golf
William Ben Hogan (August 13, 1912 – July 25, 1997) is one of the giants of golf history. Born within six months of two other famous golfers of the 20th century – Sam Snead and Byron Nelson, he was a hardworking and determined perfectionist on the golf course whose career included an extraordinary comeback from a horrendous car accident in 1949.
Hogan started caddying at the age of 11 at the Glen Garden Country Club and one of his fellow caddies was Byron Nelson. Nelson and Hogan tied for the lead during the club’s annual Christmas caddy tournament when they were both 15. Ben Hogan dropped out of school to become a professional golfer in 1930. His first PGA Tour was the 1932 Los Angeles Open and finished 38th. Before winning his first major tournament (the 1946 PGA Championship), he won 30 tournaments prior – a record he holds for most wins proceeding to a first major.
Greatest Sporting Achievements
- Ben Hogan won nine major championships – 2 Masters (1951 and 1953), 4 US Opens (1948, 1950, 1951, 1953), 1 British Open (1953) and 2 PGA Championship (1946, 1948).
- He was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1971. A special room is dedicated in his honor – career, comeback, accomplishments – at the United States Golf Association Museum and Arnold Palmer Center for Golf History in New Jersey.
- Hogan was ranked 38th in ESPN’s SportsCentury 50 Greatest Athletes of the 20th Century in 1999, ranked 2nd greatest player of all time by Golf Digest (next to Jack Nicklaus) in 2000, ranked 4th greatest player of all time By Golf Magazine (next to Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods and Bobby Jones) in 2009.
Why Was He So Good?
Ben Hogan is well-known for his intense control on golf swing theory and his famous ball-striking skills. He practiced more than any other golfer during his reign and is said to have “invented practice”. There have been theories about his nearly automatic swing, saying he had a special wrist movement known as “cupping under”. Years later, he admitted 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).
What You May Not Know
- Sixteen months after Hogan’s near-fatal accident, Hogan resumed golfing in 1949 and won the U.S. Open, gaining back the “best golfer in the world” title which was taken from him when he was recovering from the accident.
- Ben Hogan wrote " Five Lessons: The Modern Fundamentals of Golf", the most widely read golf tutorial ever written. In the book, he discusses the four parts of swinging – The Fundamentals, The Grip, Stance and Posture and The Swing
- Nine of the course’s 19 holes at the Trophy Country Club Golf Course in Texas are selected as the “Hogan” Course.
Was he a legend?
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