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

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 fact, known for) that was part of an exhibition hosted by Harvey Penick on May 13, 1950 in Austin, Texas:

However, look at the crowd in the background. Does that look like an Austin, Texas crowd in May? Kind of formal, and lots of layers for that time of year. But, could be, I guess.

Earlier this year, I bought several videos of old footage of Hogan and others from a dealer in Pinehurst, and, as a bonus, he included a batch of newspapers from England and Scotland that were printed the week preceding the 1953 Open championship at Carnoustie. I only recently inspected the package of clippings, and was surprised to see the picture below. It looked very familiar:

Hmmm.... Could it be a coincidence, Hogan caught in a nearly identical pose, three years and a continent apart? Nope. It's the same picture, just cropped a bit differently. And, that crowd looks a lot more at home in Scotland than Texas.

How a mislabeling like that happened, I have no idea, but it did. Keep this in mind when reading anything that relies on human memory: they are horrible.


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