An interview with Ben Hogan in 1987. They called him Mr. Hogan!
Hi, I’m Mel Sole, Director of Instruction at the Mel Sole Golf School, headquartered at Pawleys Plantation Golf and Country Club in Pawleys Island, SC. We conduct 1, 2, and 3-day golf schools, hourly golf lessons, and senior golf schools—any golf instruction program your heart desires. Give us a call at 800-624-4653 or 843-237-4993. We will be happy to book a commuter school or a package that contains accommodations, golf, and golf school.
I learned my golf through Ben Hogan’s book “The 5 Modern Fundamentals.” I read that book so many times I could almost recite it in its entirety! Along with Gary Player, Ben Hogan was my childhood idol. Both Hogan and Player were two of the hardest workers in the game, and this interview done by GOLF Magazine in 1987, gives some interesting insights and dispels one myth about the man they called Mr.
My good friend George Wood, a Colonial member, and I stand in front of the Hogan Statue!
Ben Hogan on the tee during the 1965 “Shell’s Wonderful World of Golf Match” against Sam Snead. Hogan hit every fairway and every green.
This interview originally appeared in the September 1987 issue of Golf Magazine.
GOLF Magazine: Next year we’ll be celebrating the 100th anniversary of golf in America. You’ve been around for 75 of those years. What’s your first golf-related memory?
BEN HOGAN: I guess it goes back to about 1920. I was nine years old and selling newspapers in Forth Worth to make some money when one of my friends told me I could earn more by caddieing. The word was you could make 65 cents just by packing a bag around 18 holes. So one day I walked the seven miles from my home to Glen Garden Country Club to see what it was all about. The established caddies at Glen Garden ran sort of a kangaroo court. For a new caddie to break in, he had to win a fist-fight with one of the older, bigger caddies. So they threw me against one of those fellas and I got the better of him. It was through the caddie experience that I got the golf bug.
GOLF: You were a natural left-hander who took up the game right-handed, weren’t you?
HOGAN: No, that’s one of those things that’s always been written, but it’s an absolute myth. The truth is, the first golf club I owned was an old left-handed, wooden-shafted, rib-faced mashie that a fellow gave me, and that’s the club I was weaned on. During the mornings we caddies would bang the ball up and down the practice field until the members arrived and it was time to go to work. So I did all that formative practice left-handed. But I’m a natural right-hander.
GOLF: So many top golfers say they’ve learned the game by studying your swing. From whom did you learn?
HOGAN: I used to caddie for a fellow named Ed Stewart. He was 21 or 22. He wasn’t the best tipper at Glen Garden, but he was the best player. I’d wait around to caddie for him even though some days he didn’t have the money to pay me. I got more than money from him—I learned the elements of the game and started to mimic him. But he was only the first in a long line of people. Throughout my career, I watched the best players and tried to emulate them.
GOLF: You were on the Tour for a decade before you started to blossom. Do you still think that’s still possible on today’s Tour, with 150 players going at it and more young talent coming out of college every year?
HOGAN: I think so, yes. There’s no set time or schedule for developing one’s skills as a professional golfer, and it certainly doesn’t come overnight. It’s a muscle-memory exercise that comes over time.
GOLF: You’re saying it’s possible for a player to be on the Tour for 10 years before breaking through for, say, two dozen victories in the next decade?
An interview with Ben Hogan in 1987.
HOGAN: Absolutely, if that player is willing to work hard. Otherwise, he’s likely to be out there frustrating himself for another 25 years.
GOLF: What was it that drove you so hard?
HOGAN: 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.
GOLF: 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.
GOLF: In your own words, you “dug it out of the ground.”
HOGAN: That’s right.
GOLF: Did you compete against yourself, against the golf course or against the rest of the field?
HOGAN: All three. First I went after the golf course. Generally, I figured that if I could beat the course I could stay ahead of the competition. Ultimately, however, I guess I played against my own standards. It was a constant struggle of one kind or another—but always a pleasant one.
GOLF: Your fight to play top-quality golf wasn’t as onerous as it’s often made out to be?
HOGAN: You hear stories about me beating my brains out practicing, but the truth is, I was enjoying myself. I couldn’t wait to get up in the morning so I could hit balls. I’d be at the practice tee at the crack of dawn, hit balls for a few hours, then take a break and get right back to it. And I still thoroughly enjoy it. When I’m hitting the ball where I want, hard and crisply—when anyone is—it’s a joy that very few people experience.