Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Retrospective: Ben Hogan at the 1964 PGA Championship at Columbus Country Club

Top: Ben Hogan on Columbus's puttting green; second: Hogan blasts. (note his precision is such that he required his caddy to attend the flag) (also my friend Tim Weidman in khakis is the last fan on the extreme right of this frame); third: Hogan practices his bunker play- a shot of which he rarely had need ; lowest photo: Lionel Hebert plays an explosion with fellow PGA champions Hogan, Jackie Burke, and Walter Burkemo looking on

(double click on images to enlarge)

The 1964 PGA Championship was contested right here in Columbus at Donald Ross designed Columbus Country Club. My friend Tim Weidman (Weeds) and I hatched a plan to drive from our then home of Hudson, Ohio, 2 1/2 hours distant, to Columbus. Dad found us tickets and arranged for us to stay at the Athletic Club downtown. From there we hopped on a COTA bus, and headed out Broad Street to the course to view Wednesday's practice round.

What a thrill for two golf-crazy kids! All the great men of the game were there: Palmer, Player, Nicklaus, Snead, Boros, Chi Chi, and Ken Venturi. The buzz when we arrived was that golf's greatest master, Ben Hogan, in a rare tournament appearance, was preparing to tee off on number 1. Weeds and I scurried to the first tee and there he was. Sporting his trademark white snapped brim hat and immaculate gray apparel, Hogan looked every inch the great champion. We were mesmerized. Hogan possessed a mystical quality, no doubt borne of the recognition that he alone had unlocked the secret to perfect ballstriking. Weeds and I felt that if we did not take our eyes off the Hawk, maybe that secret by some combination of magic and osmosis would pass on to us. Knowing an opportunity to see Hogan in action might never come again (it did not), we stayed with Ben and his practice round partners Jack Burke, Lionel Hebert, and Walter Burkemo for all 18. All four in the group had previously won the PGA Championship. I took pictures of Hogan and several of the other stars which I have just converted to digital and hence to this blog.

Ben Hogan fires an approach to Columbus's first green. I recall that he hit all the fairways and 16 greens. At age 52, Hogan played well, eventually tying for 9th.

Stay tuned for more images of the '64 PGA.

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