In his youth Ben Hogan was an extreme right to left player, with a tendency to snap hook the ball. Hogan said that even thinking about a golf shot with a hook made him sick. Through his incredible perseverance and the renowned intensity of his practice regime, Hogan completely rebuilt his swing and golf game. He turned himself into a controlled left to right fader of the golf ball, and began to see dramatic improvement in his tournament performances.
Hogan’s turned professional at the age of 17 in 1929. The early years of his career were spent battling the dreaded hook shot, as well as the inevitable financial woes that accompany poor play. He was reputed to be nearing the point of quitting, when he made one final attempt at the tour, with financing provided by local golf businessman, and the eventual founder of Colonial CC, Marvin Leonard. The timing proved to be perfect. Hogan broke through with a win at the next event he entered, the Hershey Four Ball event in PA in 1938. Hogan picked up his second win in 1940, and won 3 more times that year. The once struggling pro found his game, and in just the decade of the 1940s, Hogan won 50 different PGA tournaments, including three majors. In 1946 alone he claimed his first major championship, along with 12 OTHER TITLES THAT YEAR.
1949 was a pivotal year for Ben Hogan. He was involved in a head on collision while driving with his wife Valerie. Hogan’s car was hit by a Greyhound Bus on a foggy night while crossing a two lane bridge near Van Horn, TX. Just before impact, Hogan through his upper body across his wife in order to protect her from injury. This put him in a very bad position for the collision. His legs were severely damaged, to the point where there were discussions about permanent loss of his ability to walk. In a true testament to Hogan’s tenacity, the next year he won the 1950 US open. During each round he suffered great pain during the near five miles of walking, and sometimes used a golf club as a cane to help support his weight.
Hogan never was really able to walk without pain for the rest of his life, and was forced to play an extremely limited tournament schedule for what was left of his career. Despite this, Hogan won 9 golf tournaments in just the years from 1950 to 1953, with a staggering 6 of them being majors. In the season of 1953, Hogan won the Masters, US Open, and won his in his first and only British Open Championships. Because the British Open and the PGA were nearly simultaneously played at that point, Hogan won a slam of sorts in that he won every major he could play in. Hogan became the first golfer since Bobby Jones to win 3 or more majors in one year, and also the first golfer since Jones to enjoy a ticker tape parade down Broadway in Manhattan, NY. Hogan’s true farewell from the the game came in 1959 when, at the age of 47, Hogan came from nowhere to win his last title at The Colonial at Ft Worth, right back where he started.
Hogan’s on course achievements are legendary, and well documented. They have earned him a place in any discussion of the best golfer of all times. While other players have won more tournaments, and more majors, few have overcome the setbacks that Hogan endured. None of them had to limit themselves to a handful of tournaments a year in there prime. And none have contributed anything comparable to The Five Lessons. Hopefully this biography, and website, properly pay tribute to this great champion and teacher, and help keep his legacy alive.
* 1938 (1) Hershey Four-Ball (with Vic Ghezzi)
* 1940 (4) North and South Open, Greater Greensboro Open, Asheville Land of the Sky Open, Goodall Palm Beach Round Robin
* 1941 (5) Asheville Open, Chicago Open, Hershey Open, Miami Biltmore International Four-Ball (with Gene Sarazen), Inverness Invitational Four-Ball (with Jimmy Demaret)
* 1942 (6) Los Angeles Open, San Francisco Open, North and South Open, Asheville Land of the Sky Open, Hale America Open, Rochester Open
* 1945 (5) Nashville Invitational, Portland Open Invitational, Richmond Invitational, Montgomery Invitational, Orlando Open
* 1946 (13) Phoenix Open, San Antonio Texas Open, St. Petersburg Open, Miami International Four-Ball (with Jimmy Demaret), Colonial National Invitation, Western Open, Goodall Round Robin, Inverness Invitational Four-Ball (with Jimmy Demaret), Winnipeg Open, PGA Championship, Golden State Open, Dallas Invitational, North and South Open
* 1947 (7) Los Angeles Open, Phoenix Open, Colonial National Invitation, Chicago Victory Open, World Championship of Golf, Miami International Four-Ball (with Jimmy Demaret), Inverness Invitational Four-Ball (with Jimmy Demaret)
* 1948 (10) Los Angeles Open, PGA Championship, U.S. Open, Inverness Invitational Four-Ball (with Jimmy Demaret), Motor City Open, Reading Open, Western Open, Denver Open, Reno Open, Glendale Open
* 1949 (2) Bing Crosby Pro-Am, Long Beach Open
* 1950 (1) U.S. Open
* 1951 (3) The Masters, U.S. Open, World Championship of Golf
* 1952 (1) Colonial National Invitation
* 1953 (5) The Masters, Pan American Open, Colonial National Invitation, U.S. Open, The Open Championship (designated as a PGA Tour win in 2002)
* 1959 (1) Colonial National Invitation
(Victories List Courtesy Wickipedia)