The Comeback of Ben Hogan at Merion Golf Club

One of golf’s greatest feats is the comeback of Ben Hogan. After being struck by a Greyhound bus, doctors predicted Hogan would never walk again. His legs were crushed at impact and a main reason he survived was his selfless act to protect his wife by throwing himself on her lap right before impact.

Hogan was always someone who beat the odds: the odds of him making it to the Tour, of overcoming his father’s suicide, and battling back from his car crash.

That summer Monday in 1950 is stated best by the NY Times: Yesterday his challenge to the disbelievers was on the line.

What escapes the average golfer is that Hogan had a 1 stroke lead over Lloyd Mangrum and a three stroke lead over Tom Fazio; however on the sixteenth hole, Mangrum incurred a two stroke penalty which gave Hogan a three stroke lead on both competitors with two holes to play. Hogan dropped a two tier putt for a birdie two on the long par-3 seventeenth.

The New York Times article ends the story by referring to the nickname Ben had growing up:

Then the bug alighted on Mangrum’s ball at the sixteenth, and the penalty for handling the ball sealed the victory for Little Ben.

Below is a great interview with Hogan discussing not only his comeback, but also his mental approach. A great gem:

Holiday Book Review: Play Your Best Mental Golf

Ever heard the saying that golf is “10% physical and 90% mental”? I don’t know if that’s completely accurate or not, but clearly, what goes on in your head during a round of golf can have as much to do with your score as anything happening in your swing.

Play Your Best Golf Now is a new book from Pia Nilsson and Lynn Marriott that’s focused on helping you play to your potential by improving your mental golf game.

Vision 54 (vs 72strokes)

Nilsson and Marriott may not be well known to your buddies in your foursome, but they are well known in professional golf. They are both Golf Digest top 50 teachers and are the Golf Digest #1 and #2 Women Teachers, respectively.

They’ve worked with players that have won more than 100 times on professional tours around the world, including 5 major championships. They clearly know a thing or two about harnessing someone’s full potential.
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Tiger’s Win at Chevron: What’s the hype all about?

It seems like everyone is talking about Tiger Woods’ recent win at the Chevron World Challenge last Sunday and what it will mean for his career in the long run. Some people are calling this a “resurrection” of the old Tiger, banking on this one win to turn everything around for him after a disappointing two year streak which began shortly after the turmoil in his personal life.

The big names in golf are even talking about what Tiger’s return will mean for the game. Controversy erupted when No. 1 Luke Donald said that Woods was the best golfer he has every played against, but No. 2 Rory McIlory is the most naturally talented. A day later, Donald clarified his comment and tweeted that he meant no “disrespect” to Woods. Other golfers have welcomed Tiger’s comeback as a chance to face off with the golf champ, including McIlory. Continue reading “Tiger’s Win at Chevron: What’s the hype all about?”

Top 100 Courses: #5 Cypress Point Club

Continuing our profile of The Itinerant Golfer’s quest to play all top 100 American golf courses, The Scratch Pad is glad to bring you a profile of the 5th rated golf course in America, Cypress Point Golf Club.

Cypress Point
Location: Pebble Beach, CA
Architect: Alister Mackenzie & Robert Hunter
Year Constructed: 1928
Played: April 15, 2008

I’ve just knocked my ball onto the green at perhaps the most famous hole in golf and my caddie has walked ahead while I enjoy the long walk to the green with my putter in hand. As I stroll around the path to the fairway watching the seals play in the inlet below I can’t help but get a little overwhelmed by the moment.

Anyone who is familiar with the great golf clubs of the world knows Cypress Point Club. Bing Crosby was a member and made the club famous by including it in his annual Crosby Clambake (regretfully renamed the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am) which was a regular tour stop until 1991 when the club elected to withdraw. Another member, Bob Hope, very famously stated in regards to the exclusivity of the club “One year they had a big membership drive at Cypress . . . they drove out 40 members”. The bottom line is that this place is one of the toughest tee times in the world to obtain.

Opened in 1928 Cypress Point is often referred to as Alister Mackenzie’s finest design. Mackenzie also designed Bobby Jones’ beloved Augusta National so that gives you an idea of the gravity of the statement that Cypress Point is Mackenzie’s finest work. The course is laid out in 3 groupings of holes. Holes 1 through 6 are woodland holes set in the midst of the cypress and pine trees. Holes 7 through 13 are dunes holes expertly laid out among the natural sand dunes. Finally holes 14 through 18 are seaside holes that test the mettle of even the best of players lucky enough to tee it up here.

My day at Cypress Point started early. I had the dew-sweeper tee time of 7:15 AM and I would be playing alone today. I play solo a lot at home so I’m used to playing my match against Old Man Par and often times prefer it. In retrospect, I think playing alone here made the round that much more special.
cypress point locker room
The guys in the pro shop directed me to the locker room where I could change shoes. It was one of those great old locker rooms where the benches have spike marks from years of shoe tying before the days of soft spikes and ghosts lurk around every corner. Byron Nelson, Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus . . . all the greats have laced their shoes up here. In a quick glance around the room I saw Clint Eastwood’s locker and Charles Schwab’s but I didn’t linger too long as I was anxious to get out on the course. The photo to the right is not real clear, but it shows the unusual locker design.

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