Wednesday, May 21

Playing With Hogan: Shelley Mayfield, Part 5

Shelley Mayfield told me, "I played a lot of golf with Ben Hogan ... maybe more than anyone else." In this series, I share Mayfield's memories of Hogan as a golfer and a person. Along the way, I'll tell you about Mayfield and his long and rewarding life in golf. Read INTRODUCTIONPart 1, Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4.

Ben Hogan in early days.
BEN HOGAN MAY HAVE BEEN a mystery to others, but that’s not how Shelley Mayfield saw him. They spent many hours together, on and off the golf course.

“You say, ‘What kind of man he is?” Mayfield said.

“To a fault, he was absolutely honest, inasmuch as if you said what do you think about this fella here, he’d tell you whether he thought he was a crook or whether he thought he was a nice guy. He’d say it in front of people.”

There were social occasions, including one memorable evening at Brook Hollow.

“Arthur and his wife invited Ben and Valerie as well as my wife and myself to an affair there at Brook Hollow,” Mayfield said.

“Later on we went down in what they call the Oak Room, or whatever it was. There was a band down there, and they were dancing.”

As Mayfield recalled, Arthur and his wife were excellent dancers.

“It was the start of [dancing in which] you don’t put your arm around each other. You just stand there and shake your shoulders and your arms up and down and move your feet.

“About the third dance, Hogan just stood up and said, ‘Valerie, we’re here with a bunch of kooks. Let’s get out of here.’ And he and Valerie left.”

Mayfield chuckled.

“He couldn’t stand men with long hair. He could be very rank in his description of people. He said, ‘You drive up behind somebody in a car and you can’t tell whether they’re a man or a woman. You know, these SOBs they’re letting their hair grow down longer than women are.’

“He had something against that. And every time I let my hair get a little long, he let me know I needed a haircut. He disliked it very much. He was just absolutely straightforward honest as he could be.”

* * *

Shelley Mayfield
Shelley Mayfield won the 1954 San Francisco Open. Not sanctioned by the PGA, it was not an official tour win, but it was a good win.

“Everybody that was at the Tournament of Champions in Vegas went right there and plus a bunch of other people,” Mayfield said. “So it had a heck of a field. I know it boiled down to [Cary] Middlecoff and I coming down to the wire, and I finally nosed him out by one shot.”

Mayfield was no longer playing the tour when he arrived for the 1955 U.S. Open, where Jack Fleck stunned Ben Hogan.

“I’d left the tour, taken a job at a club, hit ten practice balls up till that time,” he said. “I was too busy getting things organized around the club. Everything was new.

“I was not prepared for that ‘55 Open, even though I played well. I think I was just coming into my peak when I left [the tour], which was alright, was fine. I’d proved my point. Not every time. But at times I could beat anybody. That’s the way I felt, wanting to prove to myself that I could.”

Still to come: More insights on Ben Hogan, hiding a weakness, Jimmy Demaret and more.

Other Installments:
Playing With Hogan (Introduction)
Playing With Hogan: Shelley Mayfield, Part 1
Playing With Hogan: Shelley Mayfield, Part 2
Playing With Hogan: Shelley Mayfield, Part 3
Playing With Hogan: Shelley Mayfield, Part 4

No comments: