Ben Hogan was by most accounts the greatest golfer of all time. He is certainly the greatest ball striker of all time. The precision in which he was able to execute a great variety of shots has never been equaled. Although slight of build at only 5'7" and 140 pounds, he was very long off the tee and even competed in long drive contests early in his career. Between the years of 1938 through 1959, Ben Hogan won an amazing 68 professional golf tournaments despite his career being interrupted in its prime by World War Two and a near fatal car accident. Ben Hogan possessed an iron will and fierce determination which when combined with his unquestionable golf skills, often intimidated opponents into submission. The "Hawk" ofter never spoke while in competition.
Ben Hogan was known to practice more than any other golfer in history and believe that a great golfer is forged by practice not naturally born into talent. He thought that an individual's golf swing was "in the dirt" and all one needed to do is dig it out by hitting enough golf balls. While afflicted with hooking the golf ball early in his career, he developed a "secret" which made his swing nearly automatic. His "secret" was once revealed in a 1955 Life magazine article, but many believed he did not reveal all.
Mr. Hogan believed that a solid repeatable golf swing involved only a few essential elements, which when performed correctly and in sequence, was the essenced of the swing. His "Five Lessons, Modern Fundamentals of Golf" is perhaps the most widely read golf tutorial which is often plagerized by modern "swing gurus." The "Five Lessons," written after his prime, demonstrated his clear command and knowledge of the mechanics of the golf swing.
In 1948 alone, Ben Hogan won 10 tournaments. Tragically, a head on collision with a bus in February of 1949 nearly killed him in his prime. With a double fracture of the pelvis, a fractured collar bone, left ankle fracture, a chipped rib, and near fatal blood clots, he would suffer lifelong circulation problems and other physical limitations. His doctors said he might never walk again, let alone play golf competitively.
Prior to the 1949 accident, Ben Hogan never truly captured the hearts of his galleries, despite being the dominant golfer of his time. Perhaps this was due to his cold and aloof on-course persona. But when Ben Hogan shocked the golf world by returning to tournament golf only 11 months after his accident, and amazingly took second place after a playoff loss to Sam Snead, he was cheered on by ecstatic fans. "His heart was simply not big enough to carry his legs any longer," famed sportswriter Grantland Rice said of Hogan's near miss. Hogan went on to achieve perhaps the greatest sporting accomplishment in history by limping to 18 more PGA wins, including 6 Majors. He even received a ticker-tape-parade in New York City upon his return from winning the 1953 British Open.
Ben Hogan later went on to found a golf club manufacturing company, and his clubs, or at least ones that carry his name, are still played today. Ben Hogan never competed on a senior golf tour. He died in 1997 at age 84.