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Peskin's Hogan Shot: "It's like the raising of the flag at Iwo Jima. It's a picture everybody knows."

I've read some inspired features and columns heading into this U.S. Open, but my favorite may have arrived Monday on courtesy of Bill Fields. Now the Features Editor at Golf World, Fields used to be one of those guys inside the ropes getting heckled for having a big lens in a spectator's way who also captured some historic images.

In this must read, he puts Hy Peskin's epic Ben Hogan photo into perspective and talks to some of the modern greats (Iooss, Cannon) about what the photograph represents to them. It's a terrific read.

I scarcely went out on an assignment without thinking about what Hy Peskin achieved on June 10, 1950, and I doubt my contemporaries have either. Peskin's image of Ben Hogan — just 16 months removed from a car accident that nearly killed him, playing his approach with a 1-iron to the 18th hole during the fourth round of the U.S. Open at Merion GC — is a masterful study of a legend.

"At boarding school, other kids had semi-nude girls or Rod Stewart on their walls," says Cannon, a veteran British photographer for Getty Images. "I had Tony Jacklin and Tom Weiskopf and that Hogan photo. Years before I started taking pictures in the late-1970s, I knew that one."

Golfers know it the way we know Francis Ouimet and Eddie Lowery walking toward an upset victory at the U.S. Open in 1913; Bobby Jones (1927) and Seve Ballesteros (1984) triumphant in St. Andrews; Arnold Palmer exuberantly finishing off his lone U.S. Open win at Cherry Hills in 1960; Tom Watson chipping in at Pebble Beach in 1982; Jack Nicklaus turning back the clock at Baltusrol in 1980 or Augusta National in 1986; Payne Stewart's unbridled joy at winning the 1999 U.S. Open; Tiger Woods reacting after somehow finding a way to get it done on the 72nd green of the 2008 U.S. Open.

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Reader Comments (8)

There's a nice Joe Posnanski piece on the Golf Channel's website about Peskin in which he shares an amazing fact. IMHO he also nails the reason why the image endures. Peskin associated "distant" with Hogan, which is why he thought to take the photo from behind. *No other photographer did that.* All the rest who were there took face-on photos. Not showing Hogan's face is I think the fundamental reason why the image is so powerful. It fits our view of who / what Hogan was.
06.11.2013 | Unregistered CommenterMark B
Great picture even if it is a 2 iron.
its a well constructed image. the crowd row mimics the tree line. hogan looks like a giant, the shape that forms from his left side to the crowd line is really great, and the shadow line defines it even more. his left elbow hitting at the perfect spot in the image, your eye moves around the picture in all directions. simple yet complicated image never get tired of looking at it,
The events at Iwo Jima were, obviously, more important and far more heroic. However, it's my understanding that the photograph was staged i.e., it was not a live shot of an actual event. Hence, I would argue that the Hogan photograph is better (as a photograph).
06.11.2013 | Unregistered CommenterCarl Peterson
Bernard Darwin, Herbert Warren Wind, Charles Price and Bill Fields make up my Mount Rushmore of golf writers.
06.11.2013 | Unregistered CommenterHilltop
Any picture of Hogan hitting his 6 iron into the 18th hole the first time he played it that day?
06.11.2013 | Unregistered CommenterOWGR Fan
Another part of the genius of the photo is that you can see the ball, just to the left of the pin, within the trees . . .

Totally mesmerizing . . .
06.11.2013 | Unregistered CommenterSmitty
Fantstic details. Great story. Thanks for sharing, Geoff.
06.12.2013 | Unregistered CommenterMike T.

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