With last week's tournament being held at Colonial Country Club, Ben Hogan's home course, I thought I'd resurrect some of my favorite quotes from the master who is frequently considered the greatest ball striker the game has ever seen. The enigma of Hogan was his public persona, or seeming lack thereof. While considered distant and brooding, I wonder if the man had a shy side or just wasn't comfortable being in the company of other people. That would certainly explain his delight in practicing alone, long and hard, well after his contemporaries had packed it in. This leads to the public perception of one of the game's true legends, of which in my opinion, there are very few.
This is no biography of Hogan. Too much has been written that exceeds my knowledge or capabilities. I'd just like to share a few of my favorite Hogan quotes with a couple of quotes by others for perspective....
"The secret is in the dirt" -Common answer Hogan gave when asked how he played so well.
"All I know is, I've seen Nicklaus watch Hogan practice. I've never seen Hogan watch Nicklaus practice." -Tommy Bolt
"If you can't outplay them, outwork them."
"There's no reason a man can't birdie every hole."
"There's no such thing as a natural golf swing."
"There is no similarity between golf and putting, one is played in the air, and the other on the ground."
"I hate a hook. It nauseates me. I could vomit when I see one. It's like a rattlesnake in your pocket."
"The ultimate judge of your swing is the flight of the ball."
"The more I practice, the luckier I get."
"Ben Hogan is the most merciless of all the modern golfers." -Gene Sarazen
While waiting on the 1st tee, Hogan walked up to the player he'd been paired with the day before. "I'm sorry I didn't speak to you yesterday", he said. "But just so you're not surprised, I won't be saying anything today either."
"About all Ben ever said in a tournament was "Good luck" on the 1st tee, and "You're away" after that." -Sam Snead
"I always had an idea that some people didn't like me...that the majority of the people didn't like me. Then, after the accident, when I received all those wonderful telegrams, letters, and flowers from people, I realized I was wrong about the people. That's when I changed. My frame of mind became different."
And finally, one of the top Hogan quotes, although I can only offer it anecdotally. When Peter Jacobsen won Colonial he received the customary, rather loud, plaid winner's jacket. As was the tradition he was wearing it at the champion's dinner. In a loud voice he said to the group he was mingling with, "How long do I have to wear this &%^#$*@ jacket?" From close behind him, but out of direct sight, Mr. Hogan replied, "Until I say you can take it off son."