Authorized, intimate, and definitive, Ben Hogan: A Life is the long-awaited biography of one of golf's greatest, most enigmatic legends, narrated with the unique eloquence that has made author James Dodson a critically acclaimed national bestseller.One man is often credited with shaping the landscape of modern golf. Ben Hogan was a short, trim, impeccably dressed Texan whose fierce work ethic, legendary steel nerves, and astonishing triumph over personal disaster earned him not only an army of adoring fans, but one of the finest careers in the history of the sport. Hogan captured a record-tying four U.S. Opens, won five of six major tournaments in a single season, and inspired future generations of professional golfers from Palmer to Norman to Woods.
Ben Hogan is widely credited with ushering in the modern era of golf. His legendary practice sessions, intense perfectionism and iron determination helped turn a lazy gentleman's game into a high-stakes, competitive sport. Yet Hogan's unprecedented achievements on the golf course were often overshadowed by his fierce demeanor and public reticence, which fueled wild speculations about every aspect of his guarded life and gave birth to countless myths and misrepresentations. Dodson (Final Rounds) resurrects the flesh-and-blood man from the ashes of apocrypha, providing the most intimate and richly textured portrait of the famous golfer to date. Although reverential, Dodson doesn't shy away from the darker aspects of the Hogan story, exposing a vulnerable and pathologically obsessive man whose dogged resolve and incomparable success were matched only by his hidden shame and self-doubt. Reared in Depression-era Texas, nine-year-old Hogan witnessed his father's suicide, a formative event that Dodson believes spurred Hogan's prodigious ambition and drive, as well as his compulsive tendencies and extreme need for privacy. All the mesmerizing stories including Hogan's near-miraculous comeback and triumph at the 1950 U.S. Open after a debilitating car crash, and his record-setting 1953 season in which he won the Masters, U.S. Open and British Open are related in lush and loving detail, without overlooking anecdotes about the era's other great players and colorful personalities, such as Sam Snead, Byron Nelson and Jimmy Demaret. As much about the game as about Hogan himself, Dodson's nuanced and engrossing biography adds new depth to a figure who has been excessively scrutinized but rarely understood. Agent, Virginia Barber. (May) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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Three Rivers Press
December 31, 2003
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Excerpt from Ben Hogan by Katherine Spencer
Dating from the late 1880s, a U.S. federal surveying map of west Texas lands summarizes the isolated village of Dublin rather simply and starkly as "a moderately prosperous railhead located on the edge of formerly occupied Indian territories."
In fact, since its establishment by Irish immigrant farmers a decade before the outbreak of the Civil War, eighty miles southwest of Fort Worth and nearly at the geographical center of the state of Texas, Dublin had been an oasis of protection and shade in an unforgiving sea of scrub oaks and native grasslands. It occupied a limestone rise of forested hills that were notable for their clear running creeks and abundance of wild turkey, prairie chicken, and free-ranging buffalo.
The Comanche, Kiowa, Lipan, and Apache tribes who hunted these bleak surrounding lands, undisturbed for centuries before white settlers pushed into the region, were more than a little reluctant to give them up to the newcomers, and thus Dublin's early town records are filled with vivid accounts of deadly skirmishes between uninvited homesteaders and native inhabitants, family massacres, and revenge killings.
As late as the start of the twentieth century, surviving elements of these "pacified" native peoples periodically committed violent raids on Dublin township for horses and cows, and a year seldom passed without the murder of a farmer or disappearance of a town resident caught unaware in some isolated outlying area. "My grandmother used to say this was God's country," remembers a modern resident of Dublin whose family roots burrow back to the town's formation. "He put this nice little Christian town smack in the middle of a country that was meaner than hell. Reckon only He could truly love it."
One popular account of how Dublin got its name holds that it came from the shouted alert to "double in the wagons! Indians a'comin'!" though the abundance of Irish surnames in local graveyards suggests the founding fathers were probably more intent upon honoring their distant homeland when Dublin actually appeared on government land maps around 1860. A less likely if more colorful theory holds that the name derived from the raucous Double Inn Hotel that opened up about the time the railroad arrived to serve the needs of a more prosperous crossroads economy, a notorious roadhouse that specialized in strong drink and cheap beds.