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.
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 would smile. Doctor after doctor had told her...
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 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 and fears of a clot large enough to block blood flow to his lungs, a...
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
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 doctors were wrong to count out Ben Hogan. Not only did the doughty mighty mite return to competitive golf, Hogan came...
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.
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...
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...
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...