Lessons in Being A True Golfer From Ben Hogan

As we enter a new year, I thought it interesting to recollect on the zen of Ben Hogan. There are hundreds of stories that depict Ben Hogan as a man of many sides: harsh, determined, exact, closed, detailed, mysterious and even humorous — in the right circles.

Regardless of popular perception, there is arguably no other man in the history of the sport who understood his game and golf better. Except for a few films, interviews, and one of the most popular instructional books, Hogan left us little to study. This post is focused not so much on the tangibles he left, but more on what we can learn from the golfer and man that was Hogan and how we can apply it to our game and life.

Have clear motivation early on.

In a 1987 Golf Magazine Interview, Hogan was asked, “What was it that drove you so hard? His answers were clear and short:

“Three things. One, I didn’t want to be a burden to my mother. Two, I needed to put food on the table. Three, I needed a place to sleep.”

Hogan was $86 dollars away from giving up the game. Luckily for the golf world, he earned a couple hundred dollars that week and his career continued.

After he became settled and more comfortable financially, he didn’t allow for life’s luxuries to deter his focus.

GOLF Magazine: Once you and your family were eating well and sleeping comfortably, then what drove you?
HOGAN: Pride. Determination. I saw an opportunity. And when you see an opportunity, you practice and work, at least from sunup to sundown. Continue reading “Lessons in Being A True Golfer From Ben Hogan”

Golf Ball Wrangler – Retrieve your lost balls now!

We all know a golfer that never passes a water hazard without his or her trusty scoop at the ready. Spending half their time on the course fishing for balls, they last bought a new sleeve in the late 80s. That’s ok! Golf balls are expensive… and they are often lost. It is estimated that about 2.5 billion golf balls are lost every year in United States (the 17th hole at TPC Sawgrass alone counts 120,000 lost balls in a year). About 1.9 billion used golf balls are played on golf courses every year. We now have the perfect gift for these ‘golf ball fishing fanatics’.

Enter an invention conceived and built by three Sacramento engineers: The Golf Ball Wrangler. The Golf Ball Wrangler helps retrieve balls stuck in a water hazard easily and economically. It is basically a series of fiberglass mesh plates mounted on an axle. All you will have to do is toss the Wrangler in the water, pull it across the bottom of a pond, and balls are trapped between the plates. According to the makers a single pull will crab up to 25 balls – imagine your friend’s smile when they pull a dozen balls out of the water (and perhaps it will mean less time holding up play)

The Golf Ball Wrangler is currently available to U.S. customers only, for US$119.99 plus $49.99 shipping.

Below is the video showing Golf Ball Wrangler in action.

Dean Martin’s Line of Golf Balls

I find it fascinating when celebrities represent certain brands. So, there was great pleasure when I came across a 1960′s commercial starring Dean Martin sponsoring Dino’s Golf Balls. However, there was no question as to why Dean Martin would sponsor this brand because it was his own line of golf balls!

The production is classic. The Ventures’ Hawaii Five-0 plays while Martin’s facial expressions and antics of frustration finally reside after hope transitions into joy — all in under a minute.

The most surprising piece of this commercial is the customer satisfaction guarantee and return policy after they’ve been used. The voice over states:

“Try one. If you don’t agree, return the dozen and get your money back. Exclusively at White Front Stores.”

Of course we can’t leave this post without displaying some of the talent and charisma that made Dean so successful. Below is him singing “That’s Amore.” Enjoy!

Who is your favorite celebrity that has represented a golf brand or company?

Bing Crosby’s golf bet with man with a mysterious past

Legendary crooner Bing Crosby may have had a voice that was unrivaled, but it was a different story on the golf course. Crosby was no match for golf hustler John “Mysterious” Montague, even when given the upper hand. In 1937, the pair faced off in a match, in which Montague played with an unconventional set of “clubs,” including a rake, a shovel, and a baseball bat.

Montague was a happy and rotund man, who played golf and gambled with the celebrities of his day. He was the champion at Lakeside Club two years in a row, but he fervently dodged the limelight, hence his nickname. “Mysterious” Montague never discussed his past, career, and avoided getting his picture taken. On one occasion when he was likely to break the course record at Lakeside, he decided to bypass the last hole to escape the attention of the press.

Crosby, who was a five time champion at Lakeside himself, was amused when Montague suggested this off the wall bet. Bing and Montague agreed on a wager of $5 a hole, and Bing was confident that he would able to beat Montague’s equipment of junk with his seven-iron. The match ended when Montague hit the ball in with his rake for a birdie three. Continue reading “Bing Crosby’s golf bet with man with a mysterious past”

Top 100 Courses: #4 Oakmont Country Club

Continuing with our series from the 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 4th rated golf course in America, Oakmont Country Club.

Location: Oakmont, PA. Architect: Henry C. Fownes. Year Constructed: 1903. Played: 5/24/11

Oakmont Country Club is one of the most famous courses in all of golf. There have been 19 National Championships contested over the golf course at Oakmont Country Club including five US Amateurs, three PGA Championships, two US Women’s Opens and EIGHT US Opens with a ninth coming in 2017. There is no question that Oakmont Country Club is a favorite among the golf magazines that rate courses as it is always ranked in the Top 10 and quite often in the Top 5. Oakmont is a golf course that is known worldwide for its legendary green speeds and for being one of the most pure tests of championship golf on the planet.

Founded in 1903 Henry C. Fownes designed the course on the principle that “no poor shot should go unpunished”. According to legend, Mr. Fownes and his son used to sit on the golf course and watch play from the club’s members in order to “improve” the course. When they saw a poorly played shot a bunker would be placed in the spot where the player’s ball landed. Wow, that’s just downright mean!

Over its 100+ year history Oakmont has undergone many changes. The course was thought to have gotten too difficult and a significant number of the bunkers were removed over the years so the course wouldn’t be quite so penal. Most recently there was a major thinning of trees on the course. Historic photos show that when the course was built that there were not a tremendous number of trees on the property. As is apt to happen over time the trees had began to multiply, expand and ultimately impede play. As is usually the way at most clubs the idea of thinning out the trees proved to be a significant controversy among the members. During the 2007 US Open it was widely reported that the mission to remove trees had been a covert one with crews working all night under the cover of darkness so as not to arouse conflict with the members. In the morning there would be no trace of their work other than the missing trees. I wonder how long they got away with that before members started noticing their favorite trees missing!

I played the course in 2011. The clubhouse at Oakmont is a classic tudor style building and has a great aura to it. In the locker room the benches are covered in spike marks from days gone by. You just can’t help but think about all the greats who have laced up their shoes in that locker room on their way to victory . . . Bobby Jones, Gene Sarazen Sam Snead, Tommy Armour, Ben Hogan, Jack Nicklaus and many, many more.

Once we had our shoes on we hit the practice tee where we met our caddies and warmed up with a few balls. From there we walked to the practice green to roll as many putts as possible to get a feel for the lightning fast greens. I dropped a couple of balls that immediately rolled 15 feet away from me. Yikes! The practice green at Oakmont is a part of to the 9th green so technically the green is enormous. The photo below was taken on the practice green and shows the iconic Oakmont clubhouse over looking the course.

Continue reading “Top 100 Courses: #4 Oakmont Country Club”