In the world of books devoted to the great Ben Hogan, a few stand above the rest. James Dodson’s Ben Hogan: An American Life, Curt Sampson’s Hogan, Jody Vasquez’s Afternoons with Mr. Hogan, and Kris Tschetter’s Mr. Hogan: The Man I Knew all fit together to form the most complete portrait of the often misunderstood and mischaracterized golfing legend.
Tim Scott has added an entry to the canon of Hogan texts with Ben Hogan: The Myths Everyone Knows, The Man No One Knew.
Scott worked worked at the Ben Hogan Company from 1969 to 1982, the last eight years as the Vice President of Sales & Marketing. He had the opportunity to know and work with Ben Hogan personally. More importantly for the purposes of his book, however, he had access to Mr. Hogan’s network of close friends, employees of the golf equipment company, and members at Ben Hogan’s home course in his later years, Shady Oaks.
He has organized a compendium of brilliant Hogan anecdotes in his new book, many of which even the most dedicated of Hogan of aficionados will be hearing for the first time.
I spoke with Mr. Scott by phone about meeting and working for Ben Hogan, what inspired a former executive to put pen to paper, and what the process of collecting some of the most revealing Hogan episodes ever contained in a text was like.
B.A.: What was the first time you met Ben Hogan like?
T.S.: The first time I met him, I had just gone to work for AMF. I was on a year training program up in Connecticut in the sports products group. The Hogan company was part of that. I came to Ft. Worth…was taken into Mr. Hogan’s office and introduced…I was very intimidated. Of course, I knew who Mr. Hogan was. I didn’t know much about his image at that time, so I didn’t have any preconceived notions. Certainly, at that time, he was the greatest golfer ever.
He had a good sense of humor. I was a junior member at Shady Oaks [where Hogan played]. I was playing golf over there one Saturday…Hogan walked up and asked if he could join us.
In 1969, Hogan had surgery on his shoulder, so he wasn’t playing in the company golf tournament. He was driving around, saying hello to everybody and watching us play. I was about to tee off. There about six feet away from my ball was the wheel of a cart…in it was Mr. Hogan. I was 25 years old at the time. I had played basketball, so I was in pretty good condition. If I hadn’t been 25 and in real good physical condition, I’d have thought I was having a heart attack. I actually don’t know how I swung the golf club. I was normally a slicer…I hit a duck hook.
I was never comfortable enough to ask him to play golf, but he asked me to play about a half-a-dozen times. That broke down some of the walls I’d kind of self imposed because of his stature.
At this point, after the AMF sale, was he coming into the office every day?
He sold his company to AMF in 1960. I joined the company in 1969. He came into the office every day. He had to be told when it was a holiday. He came in every day and he stayed until about 12 or 1 o’clock. He would go to Shady Oaks in the afternoon and hit balls.
He’d eat lunch before he hit balls…he’d play cards…talk with his friends. When he was hitting balls, he was usually trying something new or different or testing something. He wasn’t just out there hitting for fun…he had a purpose.
What was his office like?
He had a big office. He had two or three chairs in his office for people. Usually, when he wanted to talk, he invited us to his office to talk. He had a good size desk. He had a picture…he and Clifford Roberts, President Eisenhower…and I don’t know if the fourth was Byron Nelson, but they were sitting on a bench at Augusta.
What was the genesis of wanting to set the record straight, if you will, regarding Mr. Hogan and how did that lead into the book?
Over time, as I got to know him better, and played golf at Shady Oaks and talked with people who knew him there, what I was hearing didn’t mesh with what I was seeing personally and what these other people were communicating to me.
I suggested that he write an autobiography, and that people would really enjoy it…and maybe feel differently toward him. He wasn’t interested.
Did you find him to be very formal?
We had a number of casual conversations. At the sales meetings, he’d stand around talking to people. People would ask, like, what are your favorite golf courses and he’d be happy to talk about that.
One thing he was very guarded about…was that his father committed suicide. From what I understand, he was in the room when his father shot himself.
He and Gary Player had a conversation, I think it was at Westchester…Player said they were standing on the 18th tee. Hogan said, and this was toward the end of his career, “I wouldn’t want to be a professional coming in today because there’s no privacy.”
And if you quoted him, he wanted it quoted exactly right. There were a number of instances where they [reporters] took things and kind of twisted them a little bit…so he just said, “The hell with them.”
So you don’t think he’d be comfortable with the climate of professional golf today?
The media is very intrusive into the private lives of golfers now. They have no problem…asking you questions that…you really don’t want to deal with.
Just recently, you had these NCAA coaches trying to get ready for a tournament and there getting asked questions about this Indiana law. That’s not something that Hogan would want to participate in. It’s not that he didn’t have an opinion…but I guess that he felt that his opinion was his opinion and everybody is entitled to their own opinion.
Indeed. I can’t imagine him maintaining a Twitter presence or being stalked by the paparazzi comfortably…
(Laughing) No. That just doesn’t seem to mesh.
You talked a little about the origin of the book. So from there, that kind of compelled you to reach out to those who knew Mr. Hogan?
I’d finally heard enough of that stuff…eight or 10 years after I left the company. It made me mad. I thought, “This isn’t right.”
I once said to him, “I think it’d be great if you wrote your autobiography.” He said, “It’s too much work. I couldn’t do that.”
So he never did.
The thought crossed my mind, “If I don’t, who will?” I was in kind of a unique position: Being a member at Shady Oaks, being the Sales & Marketing Vice President, and my father died when I was six years old. And I didn’t know about his father, but he knew about mine. I don’t know whether he made compensation for me in that regard or what.
But he treated me very nicely.
And I was no writer, but between my two years at Amos Tuck Business School at Dartmouth, one of the marketing professors asked me to work for him that summer to write business cases for a textbook.
And I was in the marketing area so I did some writing. I thought, “What the heck? I write down my personal experiences with him and what I saw myself, and then talk to some people at the Hogan Company…”
I talked to some people at Shady Oaks that I knew. And then they would suggest, “You need to talk to so-and-so.”
So I talked to people he played golf with…Shelly Mayfield over at Brook Hollow, and Eldridge Miles, who I think at the time was at the Dallas Country Club.
Talking to all them, the same things kept coming from them that I was thinking. I thought, I got something here. This is a totally different side of Ben that, in his privacy, he chose not to make public.
For example, a lot of them saw his generosity that he did through other people on the condition that they never tell who it was that gave them the money or the gifts or whatever.
Very interesting. Tell me a little more about the book.
Well, it’s not a typical biography. There’s 47 pages of biography at the front for people who don’t know anything about Ben Hogan. The rest of it is anecdotes, true-life experiences of these people that they had with this man. And I kind of categorized them by different traits of his personality.
I’m not a writer, but the experiences that I’ve had, all those things, I said, “You’re in a pretty unique position, so put it together and see what happens.” It took me 21 years, but I got it done!
What was that process like for you?
As I look back on it, there was a significant learning process. Not about Ben Hogan necessarily, but about life in general.
One of the things I realized was that Ben Hogan was a very humble man. After he won the British Open somebody asked him how he won all these tournaments he said, “I couldn’t have done it without the Lord.”
I hope that he did it as an encouragement for those who have been seriously sick or broken in body as he once was.
I know that after the accident and the outpouring of concern and support he felt he was playing for something greater than himself. But I don’t think he’d ever have said that…
No he wouldn’t. You know, he’d write letters to people, people who’d been stricken with cancer or had been in some serious accident.
And he’d begin his letters…with, with your permission or something to let them know he didn’t want to interrupt their lives. The same thing with golf, he didn’t just walk up there and join our group…he asked first. He was very considerate of others.
But looking back on my life, and how I came to the Ben Hogan company, I came to the conclusion that I was supposed to write this book. [There have been] too many turns in the road, many of which I had nothing to do with — it began with my father passing away when I was six — too many things to call them coincidence.
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If you’ve been keeping your head or practicing to steer your golf club towards the target. Or worse, restricting your backswing because you feel a loss of control, you are setting yourself up for constant disappointment because your anatomy was designed to yield.
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On this week’s episode, host Ryan Barath covers everything from Lydia Ko’s comeback win on the LPGA tour, to why club fittings aren’t some magical thing that’s going to instantly lower scores.
It also covers Stewart Cink’s win at the RBC Heritage and offers a sneak peek at the GolfWRX Best Iron list of 2021.
Want more GolfWRX Radio? Check out our other shows (and the full archives for this show) here.
Fix your golfing back pain, Step 2: Early stage rehab
This article is co-written with Marnus Marais. Since 2011, Marnus has worked with some of the world’s best players on both the PGA Tour and European Tour, helping them to maintain optimal health and peak physical performance. His current stable of players includes Dustin Johnson, Patrick Cantlay, and Louis Oosthuizen, amongst others.
You can find more information on Marnus and his work at marnusmarais.com
This article is No. 2 in a 4 part series.
Step 2 – Early Stage Rehab
Step 3 – Essential Strength and Golf Movement Patterns
Step 4 – Building global strength for prevention of future injury
Now that we have identified the source of the back issue through assessment, it’s time to start working on the underlying causes, in order to reduce pain and decrease the likelihood of re-injury further down the track.
In our experience, mechanical back pain in golfers caused by physical issues is most often caused by one or more of the the following 4 issues, with many amateur players displaying the entire collection!
– Lack of Mobility at the Hips and Mid / Upper Back
– Poor Posture
– Misalignment and Muscle Imbalances
– Weak Core Muscles
Because pain is likely still a factor at this stage, we need to proceed with caution and focus on rehab work that is low intensity and has a low risk of causing a pain flare up.
With that in mind, in ‘Step 2: Early Stage Rehab’ we are going to address Mobility, Posture and Misalignment / Muscle Imbalances. These 3 areas can be improved upon, and should have a positive impact on pain reduction, even if back discomfort is still restricting larger, more global movements.
Step 2.1 – Improving Mobility in Hips and Mid / Upper back
Certain areas in the body need to be more stable, and others need to be more mobile. The lumbar spine (lower back) falls into the stable category, partly due to its limited capacity for rotation and lateral flexion (side bending). We know the unnatural golf swing movement imparts both rotational and side bending forces on the spine, so it’s an area we need to keep stable and protected.
In order to avoid excessive low back rotation forces in life and especially in the golf swing, it’s very important that we try to maximize the range of movement in other areas, most notably the joints above and below the low back, where the majority of rotation in the golf swing should take place:
We need sufficient range of movement to turn into, and out of, both hips. For example, if we can’t turn and load into our lead hip due to a lack of internal rotation mobility, we tend to compensate with excessive rotation and side-bending in the lower back.
Suggested Exercise Circuit – Hip Mobility
1) Self Massage Glutes – 45 secs each side
2) Cross Leg Glute Stretch – 30 secs each side
3) Prone Glute Stretch – 30 secs each side
4) 90 90 Hip Mobility – 5 reps each side
Thoracic Spine (mid to upper back)
Having sufficient rotation in our thoracic spine to both left and the right is extremely important. The thoracic spine has significantly greater rotational capabilities compared to the lumbar spine (low back). If we maximise our mobility here, we can help protect the lower back, along with the cervical spine (neck).
Suggested Exercises – Thoracic Mobility
1) Self Massage Mid / Upper back – 60 seconds
2) Upper Back Extension – 30 seconds
3) All Fours Rotation – 5 reps each side
Step 2.2 – Improving Posture
Posture can be described as the proper alignment of the spine, with the aim of establishing three natural curves (low back, mid/upper back and neck).
The 3 major spinal curves: 1 – Cervical, 2 – Thoracic, 3 – Lumbar
Modern lifestyles and the associated muscle imbalances have pushed and pulled our spines away from those three natural curves, and this has had a damaging effect on our spinal health. Our backs are designed to function optimally from the neutral illustrated above, and the further we get away from it, the more stress we put on our protective spinal structures.
Aside from promotion of pain, poor posture also does terrible things for our golf swings; reducing range of motion in key areas (hips, mid back and shoulders) and creating inefficiencies in our swing action, to give us a double whammy of back pain causes.
The muscles responsible for holding your posture are located deep in the body and close to the spine. Strengthening them can be tricky, as we don’t really have a lot of conscious control over their activation. Hence posture being such a difficult thing to remember! The combination of the 4 exercises featured below help provide the stimulus to those deep muscles that, if trained often enough, will automatically hold your posture in a good position.
Suggested Exercises – Strengthening posture muscles
1) Wall Posture Check – 30 secs
2) Posture Cue – 60 secs
3) Posture Cue Knee Lifts – 10 reps each side
4) Arm Press – 15 reps
Step 2.3 – Fixing Alignment Issues and Muscle Imbalances
Imagine a car with wheel alignment issues; front wheels facing to the right, back wheels facing to the left. Not only will the tires wear out unevenly and quickly, but other areas of the car will experience more torque, load or strain and would have to work harder. The same thing happens to the lower back when we have body alignment issues above and / or below.
For example, if we have short / tight / overactive hip flexors (muscles at the front of the hips that bend our knees to our chest) on one side of the body; very common amongst golfers with low back pain, then this would rotate the pelvis forward on one side, which can create a knock-on effect of imbalance throughout the body.
If the pelvis rotates in one direction, the shoulders naturally have to rotate in the opposite direction in order to maintain balance. Our low back is subsequently caught in the middle, and placed under more load, stress and strain. This imbalance can cause the low back to bend and rotate further, and more unevenly, especially in the already complex rotation and side bending context of the golf swing!
Below is a pelvic alignment technique that can help those with the afore mentioned imbalance.
In the next article; Step 3: Essential Strength and Golf Movement Patterns, we will show you the progression of exercises and key technique principles to build up the strength and movement patterns to return to regular exercise and golf.
If you would like to see how Marnus can help with your golfing back pain, then check out the resources below:
If you would like to access training programs designed for elite and recreational players, then check out the following resources and services from Nick at Golf Fit Pro:
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