We wuz robbed.
- Joe Jacobs, Madison Square Garden, June 21, 1932
Other than Jimmy Demaret's biography My Partner, Ben Hogan published in 1954, there were few, if any, public endorsements or defenses of Hogan's "fifth Open" claim made by third parties until the 1960s and '70s. One was included, in a peculiar way, in Tom Harmon's film biography of Hogan. The segment begins with Hogan, in an interview with Harmon, stating he still hopes to win a fifth US Open. Then Harmon appears alone and, speaking directly to the camera, adds this:
The record book shows he's won four [Opens] and tied for another. Actually, he has won five Open championships. In 1942, when the tour was called off because of the war, Ben won the Hale America tournament, played in Chicago and recognized as the...
I have come to claim what's rightfully mine.
In Part 1, the history of the Hale America National Open Golf Tournament was reviewed, including the reactions by the press, the winner Ben Hogan and his colleagues to what was widely described as Hogan's breakthrough victory in a major championship. Part 2 discusses Hogan's claim, first asserted in his post-tournament interview, that the Hale America was de facto the 1942 US Open, and should be counted as one, a claim that would then remain dormant for a decade. The series concludes with Part 3.
In public statements to reporters and non-public statements attributed to him, Hogan made four distinct appeals in arguing his claim. They are:
1. If this wasn't an Open, I don't know what it could be.
2. The competition was as strong as any other Open.
3. I have five medals and the president of the USGA has presented each one of them to me.
4. It's unfair for the PGA to count Sam Snead's PGA...
The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it.
― Omar Khayyám
This three-part series examines the claim made by Ben Hogan and others that his victory at the 1942 Hale America tournament ought to count as his "fifth Open." The other two parts are here: Part 2 Part 3
The Hale America National Open Golf Tournament was held at Ridgemoor Country Club in Chicago, Illinois, over four days in June 1942, the 18th through 21st, the same week selected for the 1942 US Open that had been canceled by the United States Golf Association (USGA) in January, shortly after the Japanese had attacked Pearl Harbor.1
This replacement event was conceived by Tom McMahon, president of the Chicago District Golf Association (CDGA). Shortly after McMahon learned the USGA had canceled the US Open, he traveled to New York and met with the USGA to enlist their...
During his convalescence, people said he would never walk again. When he started walking, they said he wouldn’t be able to play golf again. When he started golfing, they said he would never play competitive golf again. When he started back on the tour they said he would never win again.1
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 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 chronicled Hogan's long recovery and his eventual return to golf, as reported on the record. Part 4 concludes the series and covers Hogan's return to competitive golf at the 1950 LA Open, again relying on contemporaneous, published...
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. Part 4 concludes the series.
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...
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 other two parts are here: Part 3 Part 4
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...
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
This is Part 1 of a four-part series. The other three parts are here: Part 2 Part 3 Part 4
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...
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...
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:
The Myths of Ben Hogan
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...