We wuz robbed.
- Joe Jacobs, Madison Square Garden, June 21, 1932
Other than Jimmy Demaret's biography My Partner, Ben Hogan published in 1954, there were few, if any, public endorsements or defenses of Hogan's "fifth Open" claim made by third parties until the 1960s and '70s. One was included, in a peculiar way, in Tom Harmon's film biography of Hogan. The segment begins with Hogan, in an interview with Harmon, stating he still hopes to win a fifth US Open. Then Harmon appears alone and, speaking directly to the camera, adds this:
The record book shows he's won four [Opens] and tied for another. Actually, he has won five Open championships. In 1942, when the tour was called off because of the war, Ben won the Hale America tournament, played in Chicago and recognized as the...
I have come to claim what's rightfully mine.
In Part 1, the history of the Hale America National Open Golf Tournament was reviewed, including the reactions by the press, the winner Ben Hogan and his colleagues to what was widely described as Hogan's breakthrough victory in a major championship. Part 2 discusses Hogan's claim, first asserted in his post-tournament interview, that the Hale America was de facto the 1942 US Open, and should be counted as one, a claim that would then remain dormant for a decade. The series concludes with Part 3.
In public statements to reporters and non-public statements attributed to him, Hogan made four distinct appeals in arguing his claim. They are:
1. If this wasn't an Open, I don't know what it could be.
2. The competition was as strong as any other Open.
3. I have five medals and the president of the USGA has presented each one of them to me.
4. It's unfair for the PGA to count Sam Snead's PGA...
The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it.
― Omar Khayyám
This three-part series examines the claim made by Ben Hogan and others that his victory at the 1942 Hale America tournament ought to count as his "fifth Open." The other two parts are here: Part 2 Part 3
The Hale America National Open Golf Tournament was held at Ridgemoor Country Club in Chicago, Illinois, over four days in June 1942, the 18th through 21st, the same week selected for the 1942 US Open that had been canceled by the United States Golf Association (USGA) in January, shortly after the Japanese had attacked Pearl Harbor.1
This replacement event was conceived by Tom McMahon, president of the Chicago District Golf Association (CDGA). Shortly after McMahon learned the USGA had canceled the US Open, he traveled to New York and met with the USGA to enlist their...
In case you missed it last November, I joined Connor Lewis in Episode 54 of the TalkinGolf History podcast to discuss the Masters. When did the Masters become the Masters? And when did it become a major championship? Those burning questions and more are answered in this podcast.
Link to The Masters: The Making of a Major
During his convalescence, people said he would never walk again. When he started walking, they said he wouldn’t be able to play golf again. When he started golfing, they said he would never play competitive golf again. When he started back on the tour they said he would never win again.1
Part 1 of this four-part series reviewed the contrast between what Hogan's doctors actually said on the record during the first two weeks following the accident and what biographers claimed they said. Part 2 compared how Hogan's biographers portrayed the challenges posed by the radical treatment undertaken to address life-threatening blood clots and what Hogan's vascular surgeon actually said on the record. Part 3 chronicled Hogan's long recovery and his eventual return to golf, as reported on the record. Part 4 concludes the series and covers Hogan's return to competitive golf at the 1950 LA Open, again relying on contemporaneous, published...
Part 1 of this four-part series reviewed the contrast between what Hogan's doctors actually said on the record during the first two weeks following the accident and what his biographers claimed they said. Part 2 compared how Hogan's biographers portrayed the challenges posed by the radical treatment undertaken to address life-threatening blood clots and what Hogan's vascular surgeon actually said on the record. Part 3 chronicles Hogan's long recovery and his eventual return to golf, as reported on the record. Part 4 concludes the series.
THE LONG RECOVERY
Despite the unequivocal optimism expressed by Dr. Ochsner after the vena cava surgery, biographers present Hogan's quest to return to competitive golf as flying in the face of the opinions of the "best medical experts," who said it couldn't be done.
What biographers wrote:
Jimmy Demaret, 1954 - Back home, [Ben] would start off nearly every conversation with "When I play golf again...," and Valerie...
Part 1 of this four-part series reviewed the contrast between what Hogan's doctors said in the first two weeks following the accident and what his biographers wrote. Part 2 compares how Hogan's biographers portrayed the radical surgery undertaken in response to life-threatening blood clots and what Hogan's vascular surgeon actually said on the record. The other two parts are here: Part 3 Part 4
THE BLOOD CLOTS AND VENA CAVA SURGERY
Just as Hogan was about to be discharged from the El Paso hospital on February 18, blood clots broke loose from the deeply bruised area of Hogan's left hip that doctors had not highlighted in their reports. With the benefit of hindsight, the El Paso doctors had perhaps foolishly immobilized the area by placing Hogan in a hard plaster cast surrounding his fractured pelvis. For the next two weeks, life-threatening blood clots became the doctors' primary concern.
Doctors treated Hogan with blood thinners, but the clots persisted...
Ben was hospitalized for months. More bones in his body were broken than left intact. He was told he would never walk again...He had been so cut up that he could only use his legs by starting all over again and retraining his brain as well as his nerves and muscles of his arms, legs and hands.1
There have been some great comebacks in golf. Most notable, perhaps, was Ben Hogan, who won the U.S. Open in 1950 after lying near death in a hospital bed for six months after an automobile accident.2
This is Part 1 of a four-part series. The other three parts are here: Part 2 Part 3 Part 4
Many view Ben Hogan's dramatic comeback from the horrific auto-bus accident of February 2, 1949 as the greatest in golf history, if not in all sports. As popularly retold, doctors at first feared for Hogan's life and, if he did survive, feared he might never walk again. Completely ruled out by his doctors was a return to golf of any kind, let alone tournament golf. But the...
Both Bob Drum and Arnold Palmer have recounted how the two of them conceived of golf's "modern grand slam" on a trans-Atlantic flight shortly after Palmer had won the 1960 US Open at Cherry Hills. In 2016, Katherine Bissell repeated the story told to her by Drum:
While Palmer is known for many things, he is least known for the one thing that is most important historically. On a flight across the Atlantic in 1960, he invented the modern grand slam of golf.
It happened when Palmer was on his way to the British Open, after having won the Masters and the U.S. Open that year. One person aboard the plane was the late Bob Drum, then a sportswriter for a newspaper in Pittsburgh. As Drum told the story to me, Palmer asked Drum what it would be if he, Palmer, won the British Open and the PGA in addition to the Masters and the U.S. Open. Drum said he replied that it would be the equal of Bobby Jones’ grand slam. According to Drum, Palmer said, “That’s what...
For the golfer who has likely been studied more closely than any other, surprisingly little information is available about the specs of Ben Hogan's clubs. The USGA has several drivers and two iron sets in its collection, but hasn't published anything that I'm aware of. As far as I know, all that is readily available is from the book Afternoons With Mr. Hogan; in it, Jody Vasquez published what he claims were the specs of Hogan's clubs in the mid-1960s during the period Vasquez was working in the bag room at Shady Oaks:1
Jody includes some insights from Hogan's personal club maker, Gene Sheeley, and adds some details, including the bounce on the sole of the irons, which ranged from negative with the long irons to none at all with the shorter clubs; the reminder under the standard size cord grip set at 5 o'clock; and an odd claim that the heel of the irons were ground in a way that caused them to sit five degrees open at address.2 But Vasquez also admitted that...