Wednesday, May 20

An Encounter with Ben Hogan at Shady Oaks

“I could see that he [Hogan] wanted to hit the club, or any club for that matter. He then took his hands off the grip and handed it back to me. I have never hit the club since then and have given it to my grandson.”
−Price Huston

(Editor’s note: Price Huston is an avid golfer and Ben Hogan admirer who shared the following story about his second and last encounter with Hogan. Hogan spent many of his retirement days at Shady Oaks Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas.)

By Price Huston
Special to ARMCHAIR GOLF

I HAD A SECOND MEETING with Mr. Hogan at Shady Oaks. I really took a chance in going back in August of 1992.

In our first meeting, I was not prepared to ask him the technical questions that I wanted to know. I wanted to see him again, but was afraid he would get tired of seeing me. I would have hated the rejection, especially after I had gotten such a warm reception the first time.

Mr. Hogan was just finishing eating and was dressed in a business suit. It was entirely different from the open neck shirt and sweater he was wearing on Christmas Eve.

He was not as cordial as the first time, but we talked. Like the first time, I asked the questions and he answered without a lot of explanation. We talked about golf swings. I had read Tommy Armour’s book and he talked about throwing your hands into the shot at impact. When I mentioned to Mr. Hogan that it looked to me like you had to have a lot of hand action to get length he said, “Hell no, hell no,” and he grabbed my left shoulder and said, “This is where you get your power.”

I had brought a Hogan wedge with me. It was a specialty club that the Hogan Company put out − I think in 1979 − to celebrate their 25 years in business. The club had a small face like a pitching wedge, but it had a heavy flange on the leading edge like a sand wedge. I had played with it.

I showed the club to Mr. Hogan. He looked at the head and said, “This is a sand wedge.”

I replied, “I believe it is between a sand wedge and a pitching wedge.”

He didn’t reply, but I watched as he held the club up and lovingly put his left hand on the grip, and then placed his right hand on the grip. He checked his hands to see if they were in the right position. I could see that he wanted to hit the club, or any club for that matter. He then took his hands off the grip and handed it back to me. I have never hit the club since then and have given it to my grandson.

We talked about the Life magazine article where he talks about his secret so he would fade the ball instead of hooking it. He had been so secretive about it in later years but was very open in the Life article. He didn't want to admit to me the real secret and, out of courtesy, I didn’t push it. I did mention that he must have lost yardage with his “secret.” He said yes. When I asked how much, he said about 4 or 5 yards.

Very few people can say they had two chats with Ben Hogan. I never tried a third visit. Firstly, I had all the information I wanted and secondly, I knew I wouldn’t be welcome a third time.

(Image: Steve and Sara Emry/Flickr)

6 comments :

Lancer said...

Super article...Mr. Hogan was an original and like all originals left us far too soon.

One-Eyed Golfer said...

Wow! Just to see him across the room sitting at a dinner table would have been enough.

However, if given three questions, I would have asked if he thought Hogan metal woods and Hogan golf balls were making a mockery of those 6,600 yard golf courses in 1992. I would have asked what he thought of the accusation that his book had turned America into a nation of slicers and if he had seen Tiger on the Merv Griffin show...

Hack said...

Interesting, thanks for sharing.

He was definitely a bit of an enigma. Seems like he mellowed (some) w/age and retirement.

Golf Swing Videos said...

What a wonderful story. Hogan was definitely one of the most successful golfers of all time - and he was also Player of the year 4 times and he never lost a Ryder Cup match.

But was it his famous swing "secret" or did he have a good mental game? By the way, does anyone know how far Hogan hit his driver after implementing the changes to his swing?

ibklutzy said...

What an awesome experience to actually meet Ben Hogan. Have read Hogan's "The Modern Fundamentals of Golf" a hundred times. What a great teacher he could have been.

carl said...

In 1967 I was playing at Shady Oaks with my wife's first cousin..Mr. Hogan and his group came up behind us on #2 ..we allowed them to play thru...Mr. H and I tied the hole with par 4's...also met him at a party in FW,spoke with him briefly ..he was in high school with my paw in law.