Ben Hogan (1912 - 1997)
Born Texas, USA, Hogan is recognised as one of golf's all time greats because of his many victories and determination to succeed.
Hogan had an unfortunate start in life. His father, a car mechanic, committed suicide when he was only 9 years old. His mother was therefore left with the difficult task of bringing up a family of three children on her own. To supplement the family's income, Hogan sold newspapers and did whatever casual work was available. His introduction to golf came when he caddied at a nearby golf course. These tough circumstances forged in Hogan a will of steel and a determination to succeed which later earned him the nickname 'The Iceman'. In 1931, he gave up his job as a bank clerk to become a golf professional .
Although successful in tournaments, Hogan realised that he needed to improve his technique to become truly competitive. He practised his swing relentlessly and slowly began to improve his form. A perfectionist, Hogan, would sometimes prepare for a tournament by turning up days before the start to study the characteristics of the course. His intense concentration and absolute focus meant that he did not play to the gallery and as such was respected rather than liked.
By 1940, Hogan had become the leading money earner on the US Tour. However, the war interrupted his career and it was not until 1946 that he won his first major. He made his Ryder Cup debut the following year. Just as Hogan's career began to go into overdrive he had a near fatal car accident in 1949. There was doubt as to whether he would be able to walk let alone play golf. Hogan's determination carried him through and he returned to competitive golf a year later. Sometimes he had to play in bandages and was constantly plagued with pain. In memory of his plight, the Ben Hogan award is given annually to a golfer who has successfully recovered from injury to compete again.
When he won the Open in 1953, he was welcomed back to the US with ticker tape parade in New York. President Eisenhower himself lead the welcoming committee. In all, he won the Open once, the Masters 4 times, the US PGA Championship once and the US Open 4 times. He also served on 4 Ryder Cup squads, both as player and captain.
Hogan played well into the 1960s including a top 10 place in the 1967 Masters. Besides competitive golf, Hogan also set up a company to manufacture golf clubs. In 1965, he was voted the greatest golfer of all time by American sports writers.
Hogan is remembered and admired for his dedication and respected for overcoming adversity. That is his legacy and serves as an example to sportsmen everywhere.