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Why do people revere Ben Hogan so?

86 posts in this topic

I understand why people appreciate Hogan's swing and his "5 Lessons" instruction book, but by all accounts he was a particularly unpleasant and unfriendly chap.
I know he was driven, single-minded and dedicated and all that, but it seems to me that a lot of people treat him as some kind of God, but have clearly not read any of the biographies on him.
In them there are occasional stories about acts of kindness, but generally speaking he appears to have been an arrogant and remote personality who seemed to enjoy making others feel uncomfortable and awkward.
He become a folk hero after his accident and showed courage, obviously, but accounts of his contemporaries - Palmer and Sanders, for example make it abundantly clear that he was a bit of a .............. The story that sticks in my mind is how someone who had played with him once approached him, saying "Mr Hogan, you won't remember me, but......" Hogan responded by saying "You're right, I don't remember.", turned around and ignored him.
As a role model, I would have a look at his swing, and leave it there.
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People praise Hogan because of all the things you said, and also his book Five Lessons , written in 1957 and rediscovered every 25 years or so.

I imagine that Hogan was a bit gruff and reclusive because of the continuing physical problems he had following his near-fatal auto accident. Remember, this was back when physical therapy for major body trauma was in its infancy.

Insiders say Hogan had to soak in hot water for a half hour to loosen up enough to play a tour round. Plus, he frequently skipped tournaments on the tour. I imagine he was probably pretty tired by the end of the round, and really tired by Sunday afternoon.

Hogan was a top-notch golfer with a repeating swing. Back in his time, you didn't need a glib "rock star" persona to be a respected athlete.

Never met Hogan, but I did serve as a forecaddie for a foresome in which Jack Nicklaus played. Jack was all business - not rude or gruff - but just totally absorbed in the round.

For every engaging Player or Trevino, there's a more serious Hogan or Nicklaus.
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Why do people revere Michael Jordan? A guy that was described as very standoffish and unfriendly. Why are people still fans of Tiger after this most recent incident? It's because they were/are the best at what they did. Whether you love or hate their attitude, you have to respect and study how they played and changed the sport that was their job.
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Why do people revere Michael Jordan? A guy that was described as very standoffish and unfriendly. Why are people still fans of Tiger after this most recent incident? It's because they were/are the best at what they did. Whether you love or hate their attitude, you have to respect and study how they played and changed the sport that was their job.

Well said.

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Oh I thought star pro athletes only were legends because they were nice and kind indviduals????
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Oh I thought star pro athletes only were legends because they were nice and kind indviduals????

pretty sure most of them are. however, i'm pretty sure they get ''hey tiger...ben...michael...etc'' at least 20 times on an avg. day. given that, don't you think you'd shrug off a few joes from tiime to time?

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Someone made a point about Tiger there.That's the perfect example.Even before his recent problems, the way he conducted himself on the course was less than gracious.He never acknowleges fans, never signs anything, his use of 'gamesmanship' goes too far (The final round of the PGA this year is a perfect example), he spits, he throws clubs, has a thug for a caddie etc.

And yet, he was loved like few sportsmen before him have been.His talent is why people love him, and a lot of people are willing to put aside personal failings.I'm sure the same was true of Hogan.
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I revere Ben Hogan's game. He is the perfect representation of diligence and hard work. He struggled profusely with his golf game early on and beat golf balls forever. He got to the point of domination when the unfortunate accident sidetracked him, but regained his skills through unbelievable rehabilitation to dominate, again . I'm sure everyone knows the story.

As far as his personality, I tend to give him somewhat of a pass due to watching his father put a revolver to his head when Ben was 7 or 8, but beyond that I don't dwell on Hogan the man. I think he was very complex and misunderstood. You read a lot of quotes from others, but you rarely read anything from the one man who probably knew him best and grew up with him, Byron Nelson. There was probably no one who understood Hogan better, but that's just an opinion.
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You read a lot of quotes from others, but you rarely read anything from the one man who probably knew him best and grew up with him, Byron Nelson. There was probably no one who understood Hogan better, but that's just an opinion.

Your reply, like most others is very well reasoned. Thanks.

I think the fact that Nelson didn't write or say much about Hogan is a perfect example of why Nelson is regarded as the opposite of Hogan with regard to personality. Seems he was too much of a gentleman. If you can't say something nice, say nothing at all.
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IAs far as his personality, I tend to give him somewhat of a pass due to watching his father put a revolver to his head when Ben was 7 or 8, but beyond that I don't dwell on Hogan the man. I think he was very complex and misunderstood.

I agree. I think he was misunderstood because he didn't put on heirs or waste time pretending to be someone he wasn't. Ben acted from his frame of reference whether or not it turned some people off. He had his own code. For example, we've read for years how he wasn't nice to Arnold Palmer, not calling him by name etc.. Well, I came across an old Sports Illustrated article (from their "Vault") about the 1966 Masters. In it Ben was actually quoted as apologizing to Arnie for taking to long on the putting green and Arnie having to watch Ben's struggles there, as if it somehow hurt Arnie's game. Does that sound like someone treating someone else poorly? Like I said, Ben lived by his own code of what was important to him.

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I don't revere anybody for their work, talent, etc. In fact, I don't revere anyone, period. I do have a high level of respect for a few folks, but not because of what they do, but rather for who they are. I admire the most talented athletes for being the best and love to see them play, but I wouldn't so much as ask for their autograph if they were standing right in front of me in an otherwise empty room unless they were someone I also admired as a person.
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From what i can see, people revere him because of his relentless pursuit of perfection and the fact that he was completley self-made. Some kind of cavalier macho man thing.

In terms of golf and the golf swing, i really dont know. His swing was a big self defense mechanism and he himself admitted he paid little attention to swing mechanics..
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I think people like Ben Hogan because he was such a private figure, almost the Tiger of his day, without the 24 hour cable news. He wasn't overly open with himself, and all of the stuff about his swing secret, he became almost a mythical figure.
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In terms of golf and the golf swing, i really dont know. His swing was a big self defense mechanism and he himself admitted he paid little attention to swing mechanics..

... when on the golf course.

Off the golf course he paid more attention to them than anyone else alive at the time and perhaps since (though Vijay would give him a run for his money).
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I don't revere anybody for their work, talent, etc. In fact, I don't revere anyone, period. I do have a high level of respect for a few folks, but not because of what they do, but rather for who they are. I admire the most talented athletes for being the best and love to see them play, but I wouldn't so much as ask for their autograph if they were standing right in front of me in an otherwise empty room unless they were someone I also admired as a person.

I'm right there with you.

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I

define:revere - "feel deep respect or admiration : Cézanne's still lifes were revered by his contemporaries."

"Revere" doesn't mean worship.
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I'm right there with you.

Me too. Makes me remember the best squash (yellow dot) player in my college by far, for a while the best in the university in fact. A truly gifted athlete with remarkable quickness, hand-eye coordination, accuracy and flair on the court (boast shots into the nick from deep, unplayable lob shots from the most unlikely places, you-name-it). Just a wizard. But the guy smoked Players No. 6 between each of his matches, usually showed up late even for intercollegiate games, had no interested in the team as a whole etc etc. What a j**k, and what a waste of talent. Sometimes he'd get peevish or bloody-minded and just throw a game away that he should have won. Never knew him well enough to understand the psychology. We all thought sheesh, what could we accomplish with talent like that ......

My point? There's talent/skill, and then there's the person as a whole. Never confuse the two (easier said than done of course). Ben Hogan OTOH was a credit to the game. Look at how he was able to teach others what he had taught himself about the game over the years through steady application and self-analysis, and how he recovered from that most terrible car crash. What's not to admire about that guy? It seems that he was somewhat diffident (in the sense of reserved). Personally I find that an admirable trait.
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