Ben Hogan was a man of smallish stature, but his sheer grit and steely-eyed demeanor intimidated nearly everyone around him. Here is “The Hawk” in the autumn of his life, sitting for an interview and answering questions with the concise honesty that had long been his trademark.
The man simply had no patience for time wasted. It is this type of attitude that makes him one of the golfing greats, and his fans’ top pick for fantasy golf.
I can personally vouch for the quality of Hogan golf equipment of this era, and to this day, have a set of 35-year old irons I continue to put into play. They are quite possibly the most balanced, well-crafted irons I have ever used over the course of my three-decades-long love affair with golf.
It is equipment that oozes the dignified determination of the man himself – and should my golf swing not be where it needs to be, as uncompromising as Mr. Hogan himself.
Ben Hogan literally created his life from out of the dirt, spending thousands of hours honing a golf swing until his hands bled, that would come to epitomize near-perfection. After serving in the military during World War Two, an almost fatal car crash almost ended what was at the time, the most dominant career in professional golf. Laying in a hospital bed with a double-fractured pelvis, shattered ankle, and broken collar bone, Hogan’s doctors warned the golfer he might never walk again, let alone swing a golf club in tournament play. It was a situation that inspired the Hogan-based film, Follow the Sun:
Ben Hogan teed it up some nine months later at the Los Angeles Open, where he limped his way to a remarkable second place finish. Just a few months later, Mr. Hogan won his second U.S. Open at the difficult Merion Golf Club layout, which required Hogan to walk the hilly course, leaving his accident-damaged limbs aching after each grueling round. That tournament also gave the sport one of its most iconic images – Ben Hogan’s 1-iron shot on the 72nd hole to secure the championship victory.
By 1953, at the age of forty, Hogan had regained his position as the game’s most dominant player, winning a remarkable three out of the four major championships that year.
He went on to win sixty-nine professional tournaments in total, his last coming in 1959 at the age of forty-seven. Following his professional golfing career, Mr. Hogan oversaw his Hogan golf equipment company, based out of Fort Worth Texas, until his death in 1997 at the age of eighty-four.
A great golfer.
A great American.
And an inspiration to this golfing hack who still finds joy in sending an iron shot toward a back-corner flag during a late-afternoon round.
D.W. Ulsterman is a bestselling author and socio-political commentator.
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