That Saturday in April
Today's post is about one of the more memorable days in my childhood, one that has been relived in my mind many times over since we began working on bringing the Ben Hogan brand back to the golf equipment sector. It was that Saturday in April, 1967, when Ben Hogan torched Augusta National for a 66 at fifty four years of age. I had a phone conversation with a gentleman from Atlanta this week who was there that day with his father watching the drama unfold right in front of him. Man, was I envious of that man's experience.
For me, I was sixteen years old and out on the little 9-hole course where I grew up, like I was every Saturday afternoon. I distinctly remember seeing my father's 1954 Ford tearing up the service road between our #6 and #7 hole, and wondered what was going on.
"Get in the car", he said excitedly. "Mr. Hogan is on fire at the Masters." That was all Dad had to say and I threw my clubs in the back seat and jumped in. When we got back to the little clubhouse, a crowd was hovered around the small television and the drama was high. It was exciting to watch him carve up Augusta on that back nine.
For those of you who weren't around to watch Mr. Hogan play, or haven't really read that much about it, consider this: In 18 holes that day, Mr. Hogan missed not one green as I understand it, three-putting the third for his only bogey. More remarkable is that he hit the green on the par-five eighth and three-putted once again for a par. A two-putt par on the ninth allowed him to make the turn in 36 strokes.
Then the magic began.
The balky putter came through for a birdie on the tenth. He hit his approach shot on 11 to a foot for a second birdie, and made a 12-footer on 12 for his third in a row. His 4-wood approaches on 13 and 15 carded two more two-putt birdies, and after two-putt pars on 16 and 17, he rolled in a 20-footer on 18 for a 30 on the back nine, 66 for the day.
Think about this for a moment. Ben Hogan carded a six under 66 with 33 putts! He 'beat' the golf course from tee to green with another 33 shots. That borders on the unbelievable. I read the other day that only 35 rounds on the PGA Tour this year were played with every green in regulation. That's out of over 12,000 played since the season began last October.
I'm unabashed in my admiration for how Mr. Hogan played the game. With exacting precision, strategic caution and almost absolute ball control. Those are the qualities we will embrace as we introduce the new Ben Hogan irons in early 2015. We are highly inspired by our namesake; his legacy and high standards drive us to pursue perfection in golf clubs.
Stay tuned for more of the story. But for next week, we are going to talk about driving the ball for strategic advantage.
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