Arnie, Bob Drum, a trans-Atlantic flight and the modern Grand Slam: one of golf's great myths

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...

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Ben Hogan's club specifications

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...

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Oh, the humanity, Part Deux! Golf Digest's Matt Rudy does it again!

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...

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Lydia Ko, David Leadbetter and the blame game

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.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,...

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Oh, the humanity! How can Golf Digest ´╗┐permit such embarrassing errors to be published?


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...

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Alexa Pano's Outstanding Golf Swing

What an awesome swing!
15 year old Alexa Pano's swing vividly illustrates some of the traits of golf's greatest swings. Let's break it down:

At the top of her backswing, Alexa has made a very full turn of the shoulders, beyond 90 degrees. The shaft has been allowed to go past parallel and "cross the line," pointing to the right of the target, violating two of the "rules" imposed by "well-intentioned but wrong" modern instruction. Her flexibility allows her to do this without full internal rotation of the right hip, which I would prefer to see, because I see her moving her head and body towards the ball during the backswing, which I believe that type of restriction promotes.
Above you can see undesired body and head movement towards the ball that might lead to inconsistent balance and "crowding" in the downswing. Perhaps something to think about addressing.

As a result of her limited hip turn, the left heel stays planted, an almost inevitable concession to modern...
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TalkinGolf History Podcast: The Myths of Ben Hogan

hogan as it happened Jan 16, 2020

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.


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Young Tom Morris On The Links - A case of mistaken identity

On July 15, 2015, the University of St. Andrews announced a significant discovery found in a cache of papers donated by a local family that had not been examined for 40 years: a unique photograph of Scotland’s greatest ever golfer, Young Tom Morris, in action on the St. Andrews links:

Although in the university's possession were studio poses of Young Tom (also known as Tommy), no photographs of him actually playing the game were known to exist. The university's photographic archivist, Trevor Ledger, explained the significance of the discovery:

If it’s what we think it is and we’re 95 per cent certain that it is what we think it is, then it is very precious.

Just on it it’s got T. Morris with a question-mark and I looked at it and I thought "I’m sure that’s Tommy Morris," but then I was instantly sceptical because I’ve never seen a photo of him actually playing the game.

However the more I’ve looked at it, it’s from his...

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Merry Christmas from TAG and Mark Baron: Ben Hogan's First Published Instruction

hogan as it happened Dec 22, 2019

Some of you know Mark Baron, one of the premier Hogan collectors and the operator of the renowned "Ben Hogan" Facebook group:

Mark's FB group is essential daily viewing for those who can't get enough about the great man: each day Mark posts an article by or about Hogan, or acknowledges an important event in Hogan's life. Of course, he was featured in this past summer's two-part documentary Hogan, produced by Golf Films and aired on the Golf Channel.

Last week, Mark shared with me an article from the March 1943 issue of Esquire that he had recently acquired and it absolutely floored me: a four page instruction article, complete with three full swing sequences, photographed from different angles.1 I had never seen the article or any pictures from the sequences, or even heard it referenced anywhere. I'm still in a bit of shock by the discovery.

The timing of the publication may have something to do with its obscurity. Because of World War II, the...

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Don't believe everything you read, especially in Hogan biographies...

hogan as it happened Sep 18, 2019

One of the more interesting Hogan biographies is The Brothers Hogan: A Fort Worth History, co-authored by Ben's niece, Jacque Towery, older brother Royal's daughter. Ben and Royal were very close, and it's fun to see Hogan's career through the eyes of a doting niece. Ben and Valerie never had children, so I sense there was a closer bond than usual between Royal's two daughters and their uncle Ben.

Although one might expect a biography co-authored by a family member to be free of factual inaccuracies, The Brothers Hogan repeats many of the myths found in others, which makes me think that much of the book was written relying on those works, with Jacque's memories interspersed where appropriate. 

One mistake I stumbled upon very recently was a bit of a shock, however, because it involved a picture that is identified as part of the "family collection." On page 99, the following illustration appears. It shows Hogan "clowning around" during a clinic (something he was, in...

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