That Saturday in April
Today's post is about one of the more memorable days in my childhood, one that has been relived in my mind many times over since we began working on bringing the Ben Hogan brand back to the golf equipment sector. It was that Saturday in April, 1967, when Ben Hogan torched Augusta National for a 66 at fifty four years of age. I had a phone conversation with a gentleman from Atlanta this week who was there that day with his father watching the drama unfold right in front of him. Man, was I envious of that man's experience.
For me, I was sixteen years old and out on the little 9-hole course where I grew up, like I was every Saturday afternoon. I distinctly remember seeing my father's 1954 Ford tearing up the service road between our #6 and #7 hole, and wondered what was going on.
"Get in the car", he said excitedly. "Mr. Hogan is on fire at the Masters." That was all Dad had to say and I threw my clubs in the back seat and jumped in. When we got back to the little clubhouse, a crowd was hovered around the small television and the drama was high. It was exciting to watch him carve up Augusta on that back nine.
For those of you who weren't around to watch Mr. Hogan play, or haven't really read that much about it, consider this: In 18 holes that day, Mr. Hogan missed not one green as I understand it, three-putting the third for his only bogey. More remarkable is that he hit the green on the par-five eighth and three-putted once again for a par. A two-putt par on the ninth allowed him to make the turn in 36 strokes.
Then the magic began.
The balky putter came through for a birdie on the tenth. He hit his approach shot on 11 to a foot for a second birdie, and made a 12-footer on 12 for his third in a row. His 4-wood approaches on 13 and 15 carded two more two-putt birdies, and after two-putt pars on 16 and 17, he rolled in a 20-footer on 18 for a 30 on the back nine, 66 for the day.
Think about this for a moment. Ben Hogan carded a six under 66 with 33 putts! He 'beat' the golf course from tee to green with another 33 shots. That borders on the unbelievable. I read the other day that only 35 rounds on the PGA Tour this year were played with every green in regulation. That's out of over 12,000 played since the season began last October.
I'm unabashed in my admiration for how Mr. Hogan played the game. With exacting precision, strategic caution and almost absolute ball control. Those are the qualities we will embrace as we introduce the new Ben Hogan irons in early 2015. We are highly inspired by our namesake; his legacy and high standards drive us to pursue perfection in golf clubs.
Stay tuned for more of the story. But for next week, we are going to talk about driving the ball for strategic advantage.
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I think most PGA players now COULD hit 18 GIR if they made GIR their goal.
They arent just trying to hit the green. They are trying to get the ball inside 15' for birdie. And the pins are usually on the edges of the greens.
So it just comes down to a math game (game theory statistics to be precice). Given the PGA tour posts all their stats I used their site to determine these numbers.
All the pro now a days is doing is trying to lower their EV (expected value) on any hole.
Here are the EV's for GIR 25'+, GIR 10-15', and missed green (assuming par 4). All of these are based on the stats from the 50th ranked golfer on the PGA tour for which ever stat we are looking at (3 putt avoidance, 1 putt %, scrambling, ect).
25'+ = 4.045
10-15' = 3.675
missed green = 4.315
Assume when trying to get inside 15' they hit the green 75% of the time (13-14 GIR) and miss 25% of the time.
The EV for trying to stick it close is 3.835 strokes. Which is still better than the EV for going for the middle of the green and leaving yourself 25'+.
So it is more beneficial (for a PGA Tour pro) to try to flag hunt instead of attempting to get 100% GIR.
If you told them the goal of the game was to get 18/18 GIR then I'm sure there would be a lot more than 35 this year.
That doesn't take anything away from what Hogan did though.
If you assume they get 50% of their attempts inside 15', 25% miss the green and 25% hit the middle leaving 25'+.
The EV of going for it is 3.9275 strokes. Which is still 0.1175 strokes better than trying to hit the middle of the green 100% of the time. That is a difference of 2.115 strokes per round or 8.46 strokes per tournament.
8.46 strokes over a tournament is a TON of money.
joe jones says:
Jason. You say it doesn't take any thing away from what Hogan did.You just poured a big bucket of ice water on the subject. Talk about being a killjoy.Relax fella. Enjoy Terry's tale. I did.
I enjoyed it. But its wrong to infer that today's pros can't do the same just because they choose not to (and rightfully so).
I still think hogan was one of if not the best ball striker ever.
Terry - Just scored a fine set of White Cameos.
I hope you guys at the Hogan Golf Company can bring some of the history back and provide some of the stories behind the designs.
What is the difference between the White and Black Cameos?
What was the inspiration for the Blade on Blade design
If you need I.T. people I am willing to relocate on my own dime.
If you need any product testing let me know. At least you know I will give you my honest opinion. lol
Thank you for the story Terry. I wasn't around back then, my Dad was still in the service and my Mom was probably doing laundry in the bathtub at their modest little apartment.
But I remember watching lots of great tournaments growing up with my Dad - Jack @ Masters in 1986 if probably my first pro golf memory that really stands out. I'm sure your memories and mine are very similar in meaning, just the names and faces are different.
Ben Hogan is someone I hold in dear respect, and that's all with never seeing him play live. I can only imagine how much he'd mean to me if I was around back then.
As a great admirer of Ben Hogan I wish I had seen it, I was working.
Don't forget us left-handers when you bring out the new products.
I agree with Jfish for the most part, and posted at length a few weeks ago, that... the game is not played with the artificial distinctions of green vs. non green, fairway/rough, or putting vs. chipping. It is played in a series of areas in which you can easily play the next shot. On most of the course I play, the rough is quite manageable if not preferable in many cases, the sand can be horrible, hard, rocky at time or full of water or ice. However, private courses and professional layout can have punitive rough and preferable sand.
Either way, Mr. Hogan clearly had a level of control you rarely see anymore - and that means something entirely different now. It's almost like thinking that in the future, NFL games would be played on a field 200yds long, and with no natural grass and FG uprights half as wide. Except that the NFL has kept the field the same and now for a few decades has had to stuff the game back into the field and it just doesn't fit (especially kicking).
For about a year now I have been keeping a stat for myself called the Hotzone. It's the distance you get up and down from, or in-in-two from. Sometines it's three feet and sometimes it's 200yds. In a recent round I averaged 18ft for the round with a high of 60 and a low of 4. I also keep a CSI or PI (putting feet plus bonus for par/birdie etc.) which totaled 9.9 (tapping in for par on every hole would average 11). I used to keep BCF (birdied chance feet - how far away are you shooting for birdie). I feel these numbers accurately measure three distinct phases of the game, and they're all related to scoring, not attaining defined, contrived and largely imaginary boundaries. I think Hogan would like that too!
Tim Horan says:
seeing as we are offering our services... do you need a passionate club builder/fitter? I would no have left a round in the middle...no way!
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