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the man who made golfing a science
William Ben Hogan was born in Stephensville, Texas, on August 13, 1912. He discovered golf while working as a caddy at the Glen Garden Country Club in Fort Worth. There, at age 15, he lost the caddy championship in a playoff to another boy who later achieved greatness, Byron Nelson. When he was 16, Hogan told his mother that he intended to become the greatest golfer in the world.
Hogan began playing professionally at age 19, but didn't start winning regularly until age 28. After years of fighting a severe right-to-left hook, Hogan changed to a controlled left-to-right game. He became obsessed with perfecting his game, and is credited with making almost a science of the game. He studied which clubs to use in given situations. He knew his equipment, how to play all the courses and how to approach each green depending on the location of the pin. He seldom spoke on a course, and sometimes took an exceedingly long time to take a shot. All of his work paid off, however, for Hogan did indeed become one of the greatest golfers to ever play the game.
Between 1938 and 1959, Ben Hogan won 63 professional golf tournaments, despite his career being interrupted by World War II and a near-fatal car accident in 1949. In 1948 alone, Hogan won 10 tournaments, including the U.S. Open at Riviera Country Club. The following winter, a head-on collision with a bus nearly killed him. With a double-fracture of the pelvis, a fractured collar bone, a fractured left ankle, a chipped rib, and near-fatal blood clots, doctors told him he might never walk again, let alone play golf competitively. But Hogan surprised his doctors and amazed his fans when he took second place in the 1950 Los Angeles Open, only 11 months after the accident. Five months later, he won his second U.S. Open Champsionship. He went on to garner 12 more PGA Tour wins (including 6 Majors) before recurrent problems with his legs (lasting memories of the injuries suffered in his accident) eventually forced him to give up the game he loved in 1967.
During his career, Hogan played on two U.S. Ryder Cup teams (1947 and 1951), won the Vardon Trophy for lowest scoring average three times (1940, 1941, and 1948), and won the 1953 Hickok Belt as the top professional athlete of the year in the United States. His Modern Fundamentals: The Five Lessons of Golf was initially released as a five-part series beginning in the March 1957 issue of Sports Illustrated, and was printed in book form later that same year. Now in its 64th printing, the book is said to be the best selling golf book ever published.
After retiring from active play, Hogan founded the Ben Hogan Golf Equipment Company, which quickly became known for producing some of the best-designed and best-built clubs in the country. He was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1974, and was voted the Bob Jones Award, the highest honor given by the United States Golf Association, in 1976.
Ben Hogan died in Fort Worth on July 25, 1997.
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This page was last updated on September 25, 2017.