ANALYSIS

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:

https://www.facebook.com/benhogangolf/

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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The Slammer - Total Immersion video

the legends Sep 16, 2019
 

I put this together for myself because I wanted to watch the greatest swing of all time in a continuous loop: can't get enough of that hip shimmy before Sam starts his takeaway. Enjoy, and be sure to crank up the volume for Echo & The Bunnymen...

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Average Driving Distance and the Vardon Trophy

 How much does driving distance help the golfer? The obvious, and correct, answer is "a lot", although you'll still find those willing to vigorously dispute it. Perhaps that's because instructors broadly have done a dismal job teaching distance, so they both downplay its importance and claim that it's a "god-given" talent. Much more on the latter will be covered elsewhere.

But, the correlation between driving distance and lower scores is indisputable. Here is an illuminating chart prepared by Trackman, that shows a very strong statistical correlation between club head speed and handicap:

At the professional level, Mark Broadie in his book Every Shot Counts uses his strokes gained methodology to derive an estimated value for an additional 20 yards of driving distance. He is quick to note that his estimate demands a judgment on how much accuracy will be lost as a result of the distance gain, so his is a "guess", not a statistically derived truth. However, before we delve into the...

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Deconstructing the Glen Garden Caddy Championship segment

hogan as it happened Aug 16, 2019
 

The Golf Films documentary Hogan relies extensively, and far too much, on the commentary of Dan Jenkins and Curt Sampson in its segment devoted to the infamous Glen Garden caddy championship of 1927. Chapter 2 - Childhood of Hogan as it Happened: Setting the Record Straight, available in the free preview, goes into great detail documenting from contemporaneous sources what actually did and didn't happen on the afternoon of December 23, 1927.

Somewhat surprisingly, the event was well covered by a local newspaper, the Fort Worth Morning Register, in its December 24 issue, and an image of the paper's extensive coverage, including a picture of the champion and runner-up, is included in the documentary:


Here is the same page, downloaded from the newspaper's archive, enlarged and annotated:


Here is a closer look at the article that discusses the results of the tournament, and it appears the folks at Glen Garden had a sense of humor: "Junior Williams, one of the smallest...

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