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.
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 would smile. Doctor after doctor had told her...
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 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 and fears of a clot large enough to block blood flow to his lungs, a...
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
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 doctors were wrong to count out Ben Hogan. Not only did the doughty mighty mite return to competitive golf, Hogan came...
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...
Back in February, Golf Digest's Matt Rudy authored an article where he inexplicably mistook Sam Snead's swing for that of Johnny Revolta. He also incorrectly claimed that Revolta won the 1953 PGA championship, which was, in fact, won by Walter Burkemo. Revolta did win a PGA, but it was in 1935. Those careless blunders were the subject of this TAG blog post:
Perhaps more bizarre is the fact that, to this very day, the article remains uncorrected with respect to the 1953 PGA title, even though I pointed that out to Rudy a few weeks ago:
I guess factual accuracy doesn't matter to Matt or Golf Digest, so this latest mistake shouldn't be a surprise.
Earlier today, Rudy and Golf Digest published an article titled "The most intriguing grips in pro golf." Not missing a beat, Rudy misidentifies the very first grip examined, Ben Hogan's:
First off, Getty identifies the picture...
Last week, Brandel Chamblee created a stir with critical comments about golf instruction that appeared in a two-part interview by Golfweek's Adam Schupak on March 24 and 26.1 In response, instructor David Leadbetter penned a scathing "open letter" to Brandel that was published in Golf Digest on March 27.2 That same day, Golfweek's Eamon Lynch chimed in on Twitter with the following Tweet, and David fired right back:
For those unfamiliar with the Lydia Ko-David Leadbetter saga, here is a recap:
By the fall of 2013, 16 year old Lydia Ko was a rapidly rising star in women's golf. In October, she announced her intention to turn professional. At that time she had accomplished the following: youngest person ever to win a professional golf tour event, the youngest person ever to win an LPGA event, and, in August 2013, the only amateur to win two LPGA Tour events. In all, Lydia had won five professional events while an amateur and, at the end of 2013,...
Earlier today, Golf Digest published an article authored by "senior instruction writer" Matthew Rudy which contains two errors that are, IMO, "beyond belief." The piece revisits an instruction article published in the June 1953 issue of GD that was authored by Johnny Revolta, a star golfer of the 1930s who had become by then a well-regarded instructor. The article, copied below, was illustrated with a swing sequence of the inimitable Sam Snead:
However, incredibly, Rudy somehow thought it was Revolta who was swinging the club:
Just to be 100% sure Rudy mistakes Revolta for Sam, he confirms it a few paragraphs later:
As anyone familiar with the two stars knows, they don't look anything alike, and neither do their swings (see for yourself in the video at the beginning of this blog):
Worse still, Rudy claims Revolta was the "soon-to-be 1953 PGA champion":
Uh, not exactly. Revolta won the 1935 PGA: Walter Burkemo would win the 1953 edition. How is it possible that mistakes this blatant...
On Friday, January 10, TalkinGolf History Podcast 26 was published, "The Myths of Ben Hogan." Thinking About Golf founder Jeff Martin was interviewed by host Connor Lewis and discussed several of the significant myths that have shaped what "we know" about the legend, but are not fully accurate. Topics include:
1. Did Hogan spend ten years "on tour" before winning his first individual event?
2. Did Hogan have a "secret"?
3. Does the 1942 Hale America count as Ben Hogan's fifth US Open?
4. Did Hogan's doctors tell him that he "might never walk again and would surely never play golf again"?
5. Did Hogan hate putting?
And more! Link is directly below.