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 U.S. tour was suspended in August 1942 and professional golf was on a war-time hiatus. In fact, the same month the article appeared, Hogan was inducted into the Army and would not be formally discharged until September 1945, missing a full three years of competition.2
After five years on tour, Hogan had grinded his way to the top, capturing three consecutive money titles and Vardon Trophies, and, as his reward, the title of "Mr. Golf" from the golfing press,3 but he would then be forced to sit by helplessly while his nemesis Byron Nelson romped over toothless, war-depleted fields in '44 and '45 and took back the "Mr. Golf" title, virtually uncontested. It was almost more than the Little Man could bear. But 1946 changed all that.
I've reproduced the instruction article below in full. The article is remarkable in many aspects, not the least of which is Hogan's immodesty! Hogan claims, at the very outset and without equivocation, that the instruction he shares will convert "a high-handicap hacker into a sensationally good swinger," a "transformation" that "will be made easily within a few weeks." Hogan assures the reader that his "system will work for you. It's never missed on the hundreds of cases which it has been employed." Well, all righty, then.
As you will soon see, the system requires two belts, one wrapped around the arms at the elbows and one just above the knees. Needless to say, if you don't have belts suitable for this purpose, get them on your Christmas list now! As Hogan says, "you can try this belt method indoors without a ball until your muscles develop the right feeling for a good swing." So, get on it; time's a-wasting. And Merry Christmas and best wishes for a "sensation-ally good" New Year!
1. Ben Hogan, Learning Good Golf by Sense, Esquire, March 1943, pages 61, 127-129.
2. Hogan Army Bound, Tampa Bay Times, March 28, 1943, page 19.
3. Hogan Again Tops As Golf Bows Out for Duration, The Courier Journal, December 20, 1942, page 47.