Reading: Ben Hogan

September 22, 2021

Paul Kay


Our  Reading series is curated by our resident editor and librarian, Jason. Whenever we travel, we like to learn as much as we can about our destination. Along with the books and movies we've found, Jason adds more titles to give you an in-depth and entertaining view of a place.

We visited the Ben Hogan Museum in Dublin, Texas, and learned quite a lot from the wonderful docent, Karen Wright.

But I also wanted to learn even more. For Father’s Day, Madeline bought me a lot of Ben Hogan books. I’m reading them all. His life is a fascinating story, but he also made his mark on golf because he was so good. If you want to learn a little more about Ben’s life and views on golf, I’ve got some books and a DVD that you might like.

Ben Hogan’s Five Lessons: The Modern Fundamentals of Golf

by Ben Hogan

This book has an interesting history. When Madeline and I visited the Ben Hogan Museum, our docent explained that the five lessons originally appeared in Sports Illustrated. As the story goes, in 1956—with Sports Illustrated in its infancy and barely surviving—Hogan reached out to Managing Editor Sidney James and pitched an article. At first, James was hesitant and did not give the idea much thought. After mulling it over, he decided to send fabled golf writer Herbert Warren Wind and talented freelance illustrator Anthony Ravielli to meet with Hogan at his office in Fort Worth, Texas.

They thought the story could become a five-part instructional series. The sequence would be presented as a tutorial on the grip, the setup, the backswing, and the downswing. The final part would summarize everything. Hogan agreed. The first of five successive installments appeared in the magazine's March 11, 1957, issue.

Today, the book is widely available, and it is very easy to read. If you want to get better at golf, this is a very prudent investment! My wife purchased it for me on Kindle, so I can take it with me on my Kindle device. It’s a great reference book.

The Match: The Day the Game of Golf Changed Forever

by Mark Frost

This is a book about a golf match between some of the greatest golfers alive in 1956. It came about in an odd way: Two millionaires, Eddie Lowery and George Coleman, made a bet on a mythical golf match. Eddie Lowery, who caddied for Francis Ouimet in the 1913 U.S. Open at Brookline, owned a San Francisco area car dealership where Ken Venturi and Harvie Ward worked. They were both amateurs and were at the top of their games. Eddie said that his team could beat anyone in a best-ball match. He made this boast to George Coleman, a wealthy Texas businessman who was close to Ben Hogan and Byron Nelson. Bragging rights were the prize. No money changed hands and no crowds were invited.

The two amateurs were younger and in much better shape. Hogan was almost finished with his golf career in 1956. And Nelson left competitive golf 10 years earlier. It seemed like an unfair match. The four golfers would play the match at Cypress Point Golf Club.

The book is a terrific play by play and background story of four of the best players in golf. You might remember Ken Venturi form TV. In 1958, he led The Masters as an amateur after three rounds. He won the 1964 U.S. Open and transitioned as the lead golf analyst for CBS Sports. In 1956, he held the reputation as being one of the finest amateur golfers in America. Venturi knew Hogan and Nelson quite well. He modeled his game after Byron Nelson and considered Nelson his mentor. Venturi revered Hogan, and Hogan had great affection for him. Two years earlier, Hogan had set up Venturi with a set of Hogan clubs.

I’m glad Madeline found this book for me. It’s a great read if you love golf and it’s particularly meaningful if you know anything about Ken Venturi, Ben Hogan or Byron Nelson.

Ben Hogan's Secret Fundamental: What He Never Told the World

by Larry Miller

Considering that I’ve already suggested Ben Hogan’s Five Lessons, you might wonder why you should buy this one. There are a few little nuggets in this book that complement Hogan’s original book. It’s a nice little read, and you’re sure to learn something. But don’t read this book until after you’ve read Ben Hogan’s Five Lessons.

Miracle at Merion: The Inspiring Story of Ben Hogan's Amazing Comeback and Victory at the 1950 U.S. Open

by David Barrett

If you read my post on the Ben Hogan Museum, you’ll recognize the photograph of Ben on the cover. The 1950 U.S. Open story simply is amazing. Less than a year prior to the event, Ben Hogan was seriously injured in a car accident. He fractured his pelvis, collarbone, rib and ankle. Then, two weeks later, blood clots developed in his legs, and he almost died.

It wasn’t until November, more than nine months after the accident, that he was able to go to the range to hit balls. He played at the Los Angeles Open the following January and did very well. He lost to Sam Snead in an 18-hole playoff. Hollywood smelled a comeback story and wooed Hogan to make a movie. See below for more about the movie.

Hogan completed his miraculous comeback by winning the U.S. Open in a riveting 36-hole playoff against Lloyd Mangrum and George Fazio, permanently cementing his legacy as one of the sport’s true legends. The book is a great read about a great comeback.

Follow the Sun

This 1951 Hollywood film starred Glenn Ford, Anne Baxter and Dennis O’Keefe. The film is in black and white. There were not a lot of color movies in 1951. In fact, 1961 was the last year in which the majority of Hollywood films were released in black and white. The movie covers Ben’s life, golf life, accident and return to glory. The movie even has a number of his golf contemporaries. Sam Snead, Jimmy Damerit and Cary Middlecoff each make cameo appearences.

Ben Hogan: The Myths Everyone Knows, the Man No One Knew

by Tim Scott

I liked this book because it is more about the man behind the legend. The other books are about his swing, teaching golf and winning at golf. This book presents a more comprehensive look at Hogan. It talks about his work life, friends and family. The book completes the picture of a complex man. When we visited the Ben Hogan Museum, our docent told plenty of anecdotes of Mr. Hogan that we never knew. This book adds to the anecdotes. It’s definitely worth your time.

Ben Hogan's Short Game Simplified: The Secret to Hogan's Game from 120 Yards and In

by Ted Hunt

This book is aimed at someone who golfs and wants to get better. If you are a golfer, you know that more than half of your strokes are from 100 yards out. Yes, that includes your shot into the bunker, short, long and putting. The book talks about chip shots, flop shots; bunker shots and putting. It also talks about how to spin, draw and fade the ball.

The Ben Hogan Collection DVD Set

by Tim Burford

This DVD set is an excellent addition to Ben Hogan’s Five Lessons. Hogan does a great job in the book with drawings. However, I could see things much easier while they were in motion. You can see the videos in normal and slow speeds. I can even stop it with my DVD remote. The DVD set comes with a DVD that will play on your PC. Then, I can just go to what I want to brush up on, and the video will play. If you are a golfer and you already have Ben Hogan’s Five Lessons, this is another great addition. You’d pay more for a lesson than you would for the DVD set!

Ben Hogan: An American Life

by James Dodson

Here are some additional books that I have not purchased or read. They are on my list so I’m sure I might see them from Madeline as gifts in the future. She knows I love all things related to Ben Hogan. It’s no wonder I loved the Ben Hogan Museum!

Hogan

by Curt Sampson

This book has earned a lot of 5-star reviews from Amazon readers. It was a New York Times best seller. One reason I would like to read it is the people that the author interviewed. Byron Nelson, Jack Nicklaus, and Sam Snead were all interviewed, and their quotes are in the book. They all knew Ben Hogan very well.

Ben Hogan's Magical Device: The Real Secret to Hogan's Swing Finally Revealed

by Ted Hunt

Anytime I see something about Hogan that is finally “revealed,” I become uneasy. I don’t like the title either. And Hogan wasn’t magical. He just worked hard all the time on the driving range to get better. However, this is a nice companion book to Ben Hogan’s Five Lessons. The author put into practice what he learned during his research and presumably lowered his score in the process. He claims to have shot his age, 79, as a result. I would love to shoot in the 70s, so I’ll probably buy this book. As golfers know, we always are search of a lower score.

The Open Question: Ben Hogan and Golf's Most Enduring Controversy

by Peter May

If you are a golf fan, you probably follow all the majors. Maybe you watch golf every weekend. This book is about Ben Hogan and a controversary that you probably never heard about. In 1942, the U.S. Golf Association (USGA) cancelled its four golf tournaments for the duration of World War II. That was quite understandable. But then it did something different in only that year. It created and sponsored the Hale-America National Open on the same weekend as the cancelled U.S. Open.

The USGA chose Interlachen Country Club in Edina, Minnesota, for the U.S. Open. The club decided not to serve as the host course in deference to war time activity. The USGA together with the PGA of America and the Chicago District Golf Association sponsored the Hale America Open.

The Hale America was held at Ridgemoor Country Club in Norwood Park Township, Cook County, Illinois, from June 18-21, 1942. The proceeds raised by the event benefitted the Navy Relief Society and the USO. It was intended to be a war-time substitute for the U.S. Open.

I always wondered why it was called the Hale America Open. I thought maybe they meant hail instead of hale. Hail America would mean to salute America. In wartime, I thought that made sense. However, they use Hale America to say that America was still hale and hearty.

Ben Hogan won that tournament and went to his grave believing he had therefore won a record five U.S. Open titles. The reviews of the book suggest that golf fans will love it. I want to read it. Do you?

There are other Ben Hogan books, but the list I’ve given are the ones I’m either reading or about to read. I hope you enjoy them!


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