Q&A With Israel DeHerrera On Hogan The Documentary

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Debuting Monday and Tuesday June 17-19 at 9 pm ET, Golf Films looks at the life and legend of Ben Hogan.

With limited commercial interruption thanks to sponsor Charles SchwabHogan is narrated by Emmy Award-winning actor Kyle Chandler, and produced for 13-time Emmy Award winner Israel DeHerrera. He answered some questions about how the film came together.

GS: Let’s talk genesis of this film. How long has this been in the works and what was the goal in tackling such a complicated figure?

ID: Was sitting around wondering what was going to be next and was nosing around on YouTube and found an interview Hogan did with Ken Venturi at the 1983 Colonial. It was only about 12 minutes long, but I was immediately transfixed. He spoke in a staccato tone that had me hanging on every word. So I dug deeper and read Curt Sampson's biography. I read it cover to cover in two days and knew that we really needed to try and bring this story into a visual documentary form.

The film has been two years in the making but that coincides with the release of two other films that debuted last year and five others that are currently in production.

GS: When did your fascination with Hogan begin?

ID: When I saw the Commercials for Hogan apex irons in the early 1990's. Seeing Hogan in that yellow sweater at Riviera taking full swings was just mystical.

Q: What is your best interview get and person you most wished you could have interviewed and did not?

ID: Best interview was Curt Sampson. He was our Shelby Foote. We also sat down with Ben's niece Jacque Hogan. It was pretty cool to get a first person account of the accident and the recovery as well as the Hogan family history

Person I wished I could of interviewed is pretty easy…Hogan!

Q: Craziest place or effort made to research Hogan?

ID: We went everywhere: Dublin, Texas, Glen Garden G.C, Shady Oaks, Colonial, Riviera
Carnoustie Scotland, Merion GC, Cherry Hills, et cetera.

But finding the Hogan collectors was HUGE. John Seidenstein of Fort Worth and Mark Baron of San Diego are Hogan freaks. They both have massive collections and exhibits in their homes dedicated to Hogan. We are always looking to add additional layers and give these films a present day feel and this really helped

Q: There are reenactments in the film. Tell us what goes into the thinking on those and is there consternation given in using them given how strong the visuals and storytelling is with a subject like Hogan?

ID: This was a difficult decision. There simply was not enough footage of Hogan's career to be able to tell the story we wanted to tell so we decided to do re-enactments. We found Christo Garcia who spent five years of his life dedicating himself to copying Hogan's swing. We wanted to be as genuine as possible so we flew him to Shady Oaks for a shoot and to Merion to shoot there on the East Course. That said, I was very conscious of that fact that having someone trying to replicate Hogan’s swing was sacrilegious, so we only tried to use tight shots of hands, legs, shoulders etc. We tried to avoid showing an entire full swing.

Hogan’s childhood was another reason we needed to do re-creations. There are only of handful of photos of Ben during his childhood. I am very happy with how these turned out. We spent many hours casting, blocking, searching for the proper locations, actors, props etc. and I think it shows during the childhood scenes and the famous caddie tournament he played against Byron Nelson at Glen Garden. We also rented out an old house in LA to shoot his re-creations of his recovery from the accident.

GS: : Thing that most surprised you about Hogan in your research?

ID: I have to give credit to Curt Sampson here. He really did all the heavy lifting in terms of research and brought Hogan to life for a generation of fans when he released his biography in the late 1990’s. Our goal was to do the best possible job in bringing him to life in a visual documentary form that will hopefully engage and give birth to a whole new audience.

I was just surprised at how difficult this man’s life really was. I knew a little bit about Hogan but not everything. Charles Dickens and Oliver Twist had it easy compared to this guy. He is just an amazing story of perseverance.

A Word About Willie Anderson While We Have The Excuse To Revisit His Three U.S. Open Wins In-A-Row

As Brooks Koepka prepares to tee off and pursue the incredible feat of three U.S. Open wins, Douglas Seaton gives us an excuse to revisit the short life and times of four-time U.S. Open winner Wilie Anderson.

North Berwick born and raised until his family emigrated to America. He was most famous for telling the Myopia members to stick their kitchen-dining plan for the pros:

At the 1901 US. Open played at Myopia Hunt Club near Boston, Massachusetts, Willie and Alex Smith posted a 72-hole score of 331, to tie the tournament. In the first 18-hole play-off in Open history, Anderson won by one stroke, 85-86. At that championship, the American media picked up on Anderson's quote when he growled " No, we're no goin tae eat in the kitchen." Willie was furious when told the professionals could not enter the clubhouse. The players were eventually allowed to eat in a specially erected tent.

Anderson is in the World Golf Hall of Fame.

Rory On The U.S. Open Champions Dinner, Checking Out Golf's Most Historic Artifacts

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The Forecaddie tells the fun story of the USGA’s amateur and former champions dinners held this week.

Sounds like quite a swell night. At least based on the incredible photos by the USGA team.

Rory McIlroy’s comments from his Wednesday press conference:

Q. You mentioned a couple of times, can you talk a little about what the dynamic was like at the Champions dinner last night? You don't do it every year. Who else did you have interesting conversations with?

RORY MCILROY: It was awesome. 33 of the 36 living U.S. Open champions. We had a great table. It was Erica and myself; Jordan and his wife, Annie; and Brooks and his partner, Jena. It was just the six of us at a table. And it was really cool. I don't know, even just the stories that we were telling. We were obviously the young table (laughter). We must have stayed about an hour and a half after everyone else had left. We shut the place down, just chatting, and it was really, really cool.

But then talking to Lee Trevino about the Ryder Cup in Walton Heath and it was like '81, and Jerry Pate came into the story, and they played together in the foursomes and they beat Faldo and Sam Torrance. Yeah, just really cool.

And then there was some artifacts from the USGA Museum, Hogan's 1-iron from Merion. The golf ball Bobby Jones won the Grand Slam with. Arnold Palmer's visor that he threw up in the air at Cherry Hills. I'm a golf geek, and I love the traditions and history of the game. And that is so cool.

I sort of walked away from that dinner wishing that they did it every year. But I think it is so special that we do it every five or six years, and you look at that picture. Gary Player stood up and made a great speech about how he came here to the United States with no money. He won, I think -- he won the U.S. Open, it was $5,000 or something. And that was a huge deal back then.

Just how the game has changed and evolved. It just made me really appreciate being a part of that club that have won the U.S. Open. It was a really cool thing. And looking forward to being able to do it for years to come.

Getting In The Mood: 1982 U.S. Open Film, My US Open With Watson

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The cheese factor is high, with a strong late 70s influence in hair, music and kitsch factor, which makes this 1982 U.S. Open film so much fun. It has a happy ending too. And how about PSA for the member’s program!

And here’s a great fast-forward to the present day with Watson talking about ‘82 with highlights.

Mark Broadie's New Scoring Volatility Measure And Tiger's 2000 Season In Perspective

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Strokes Gained founder Mark Broadie has developed another stat called scoring volatility and introduces it at Golf.com.

Now, you may say this one tells us what we already knew: some people make a lot of pars and play steady, boring golf. Like Ryan Moore and Billy Horschel, two recent leaders in non-volatility. Others make plenty of birdies and plenty of bogies.

But as with Strokes Gained, Broadie’s managed to craft a statistic allowing us as fans to put the magnificence of a performance into perspective, while also highlighting what may or may not be holding someone back.

So Broadie went back to Tiger’s epic 2000 season and made some amazing calculations. Certainly read the piece for full context, but this is amazing in terms of putting the greatness of a season-long performance into perspective:

That season, Woods made bogey or worse on a mere eight percent of the holes he played. (The PGA Tour average was 19 percent that season.) Tiger also comes out on top on the birdie side of the ledger—again during the 2000 season—where he won nine events, including three majors.

That year, Woods scored birdie or better at an astounding 32 percent clip, 12 percentage points higher than the Tour average.

Rethinking The Mainstream Golf Vocabulary: Bamberger Is Coming After One-Shotter And Penalty Area

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The former I’ll fight for, the latter is on its own.

Michael Bamberger files a fun consideration of certain golf terms in light of rule book changes along with the desire to shed golf of stuff terms.

Penalty area has been a colossal mistake that needs to be replaced by hazard. Does anyone disagree?

But as a repeated user of one, two and three-shotter, I have to defend those. They’ve been around for a long time, were used by all of the great architects in their writings, and even highlight the silliness of chasing distance (since there are about six legit three-shotters left).

Yes, a par 5. Not a 5 par. Blech. Also grating is three-shotter, two-shotter and one-shotter. And who needs the new penalty area when hazard conveyed it all? As Strunk & White say in Elements of Style, “Be clear.” That doesn’t mean be literal. Golf requires a measure of irony, which is why any body of water, including a gunky Ohio pond on a pitch-shot par 3, may be referred to as a lake. Here are the exceptions that prove the rule: the ocean to the left of 18 at Pebble and the burn crossing the first on the Old Course. Show some respect: Swilcan Burn is not a lake.

I also have to quibble with a few here. A double cross isn’t pretentious, it’s just painful.

These terms are pretentious and should be avoided: hole location, green complex, signature hole, double cross, overseeding, C.O.R., learning center, practice tee, links-style, second-shot course, Championship Course.

Hogan Documentary Coming To Golf Channel June 17 And 18

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Producer Israel DeHerrera kindly let me screen parts of Hogan knowing my affinity for all things Ben Hogan and research into the Hawk’s Los Angeles years. All I can say: it’s the film you hoped would be delivered on Hogan’s incredible life and times.

For Immediate Release (with two other sneak previews at this link):

Hogan: Monday-Tuesday, June 17-18, 9 p.m. ET

Hogan (trailer), a two-part biopic on 64-time PGA TOUR winner Ben Hogan chronicles one of the greatest comeback stories in sports history, reflecting on the Texan’s indelible impact on professional golf in spite of a near-fatal automobile accident that put the prime years of his career in serious jeopardy. Coming from humble beginnings, the film examines Hogan’s incredible journey to becoming one of the greatest golfers of all-time, serving as the inspiration for the 1951 motion picture “Follow the Sun”. Being presented with limited commercial interruption by Charles Schwab, Hogan’s two parts – Monday night’s “Perseverance” and Tuesday night’s “Perfection” – will be narrated by Emmy Award-winning actor Kyle Chandler, and be produced for GOLF Films by 13-time Emmy Award winner Israel DeHerrera.

A Refresher On Ben Hogan's Comeback And Where Tiger's Ranks

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The dust is settling on Tiger’s 2019 Masters win but the proclamations of greatest comeback in sports history are still rolling in. It’s tempting to want to put a stop to some of it but then that would be dulling the necessary excitement and respect for what Tiger has accomplished.

ESPN.com’s Rachel Marcus listed the best individual comebacks in sports, omitting Ben Hogan and overall helping to make the case for both Hogan and Woods since their efforts stand out. This guy nailed it last year speaking about Hogan:

“I think that one of the greatest comebacks in all of sport is the gentleman who won here, Mr Ben Hogan. I mean, he got hit by a bus and came back and won major championships,” he said.

“The pain he had to endure, the things he had to do just to play and just how hard it was for him to walk, and he ended up walking 36 holes (in one day) and winning a US Open.”

That was Tiger Woods speaking at the 2018 Masters.

There are few similarities between the two comebacks and yet they are equally impressive given that Hogan was near death and Tiger had appeared to lose all confidence in his game for longer period than any all-time great. Only maybe Seabiscuit appeared to lose it all before regaining elite form.

Still, Hogan has to get the nod for having played no role in his need to stage a comeback in the first place. Tiger, by his own admission, inflicted some of his pain.

Golf Monthly’s Nick Bonfield filed this excellent look back at Hogan’s plight and what he overcame to win six majors after he was hit by a bus and forever hobbled by the accident.

Again, it does not diminish Tiger’s feat but it’s worth reading up on if you are not familiar with Hogan’s comeback.

The Death Of Hazard, All Square, Dormie And Halve Not Sitting Well

Last week’s match play and next week’s Masters prompted a couple of pieces worth your time on the changing language in the game. While everyone was for simplifying the rules, increasingly folks are not warming up to the idea of simplifying the language of golf. Particularly since so many golf terms are part of the every day lexicon.

For example, to be living under par suggests you aren’t feeling well. But I digress.

David Normoyle in a special to Golfweek expresses his dismay at the death of the hazard and the timeless word now replaced with penalty area.

Personally, I’m not looking forward this April to the first time a player takes on the corner of the 13th hole at Augusta National, with its famous tributary lying in wait to capture the carelessly played shot, only to have the television commentator suggest the fate of the Masters may hinge on whether the ball finds the meandering “penalty area” to the left of the fairway or not.

What would Herbert Warren Wind say about his beloved Amen Corner being defined each year not by the players who fell victim to the confounding hazard that is Rae’s Creek but rather those who cautiously negotiated the yellow penalty areas on their way to victory?

Golfweek’s Alistair Tait points out that during the Sky broadcast of the Dell Match Play, the announce team did not acknowledge the preferred new match play terminology. As Tait writes, “he language of golf is part of its allure” and with a history of some words dating back to Mary Queen of Scots’ day—caddie for instance, some are not ready to say goodbye to several terms.

Sadly, there is no mention of all-square in the new rule book. It’s been quietly deleted in the supposed attempt to make the game more accessible to new players. Maybe the governing bodies think the game’s going to become populated by morons incapable of understanding simple terms like all-square and halved.

I wouldn’t be surprised if that wonderful, unique to golf term “dormie” is edited out of the next edition of the rule book even though it’s been in existence since Mary Queen of Scots pondered the benefits of an overlapping grip over a ten-finger one.

Auctions! Jeff Ellis Puts Up Some Incredible Old Clubs; Another First Masters Program Also On The Market

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Renowned historian and collector Jeff Ellis has some amazing stuff up for auction at his site. The current gallery that includes some incredible early clubs.

And Roxanna Scott notes that bids can start at $5000 for a First Augusta National Invitational program, a fantastic publication that has been reproduced and even had a poster made by the Masters out of its cover.

Southern Pines' Little Nine: "Fallow Ground & Fertile Memories"

The abandoned “LIttle Nine” is on the right

The abandoned “LIttle Nine” is on the right

Bill Fields takes an in-depth look at one of the more unusual battles over an abandoned golf course—the Little Nine of Southern Pines Golf Club, a still wonderful but defaced Donald Ross gem in greater Pinehurst run by the Elks Lodge. The course has sat dormant since 2004 with Ross ties and facing a possible sale by the Elks in the heart of Southern Pines.

But as Fields notes, a conservancy is trying to prevent redevelopment with an eye on green space or even golf returning some day. Given the quality of the land and the game’s popularity in the area, that shouldn’t be tough, right?

The Little Nine opened in time for the 1924 winter season, 18 years after the first holes were constructed at SPGC (then called Southern Pines Country Club) and a decade after Ross revamped the original 18 into the well-regarded layout that exists today. 

“I’m long on record on Golf Club Atlas saying the main 18 at the Elks occupies the best land in Moore County [for golf], and people parrot that back to me in agreement,” says Ran Morrissett, founder of the website for golf architecture aficionados, and a Southern Pines resident and Elks Club member since 2000. “The detail work, the bones of the Ross routing, the fact that you only see homes on a couple of holes — it’s such a compelling environment.”

The third nine, to accommodate a growing tourist business, was built south and east of the clubhouse. Before the 1920s were over, it had been joined by a fourth nine. In a 1930 promotional pamphlet, Ross noted 36 holes at Southern Pines. In accounts during the 1930s, local newspapers credited Ross’ engineer and draftsman, Walter Irving Johnson, with having drawn up the plans.

Video: Jim Nelford Talks 1984 Crosby, Near-Death Experience On Morning Drive

Really extraordinary stuff here from Jim Nelford as interviewed by Gary Williams and Jaime Diaz on the 35th anniversary of his loss to Hale Irwin. Some of the great footage may have been taken out due to rights issues but Nelford is all you need to hear.

The 1984 Crosby went to sudden death after Irwin’s tee shot bounced off the rocks and back on to 18 fairway. Irwin also hit a horrendous pop-up off 16 tee in the playoff and then a miraculous long iron from the bunker. You can see the 18th tee shot in this best of compilation:

The Kordas And The Amazing Winning Siblings Feat

Nelly Korda wins: some trophies are easier to kiss than others.

Nelly Korda wins: some trophies are easier to kiss than others.

We don’t want to get too far removed from the weekend’s action without pausing to consider the remarkable feat of siblings winning on the same tour.

I’m fairly certainly this is Final Golf Jeopardy material here, from Al Lunsford of the LPGA:

With her win, Nelly Korda joined her sister, five-time LPGA winner Jessica Korda, in the winner’s circle on Sunday, making the Kordas just the third set of sisters to win on the LPGA Tour in history.

Annika Sorenstam (72 wins) and Charlotta Sorenstam (one win) were the first to accomplish the feat in 2000, and were joined by Ariya Jutanugarn (10 wins) and Moriya Jutanugarn (one win) earlier this season when Moriya won the 2018 HUGEL-JTBC LA Open.

Imagine that. Two of the three pairings to have done so accomplished the feat in 2018.

Big sister Jessica was a blubbering mess after the win:

Flashback: The Last Time The USA Made Putts And Europe Didn't, 1981 Ryder Cup At Walton Heath

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In searching for some great looks at Walton Heath’s design in anticipation of this week’s British Masters, I didn’t find much. But this 1981 Ryder Cup highlight film narrated by the late, great Jim Huber will remind you of a time Americans made everything while the Europeans struggled on the greens. There is also this: Dave Marr’s USA squad had NINE future Hall of Famers and is quite possibly the best one America ever assembled.



Flashback: When They Used To Shape The Ball, Use The Ground And Hit Woods Into Par-5s!

Fantastic flashback clip from the European Tour social getting us ready for pro golf’s return to the glorious Walton Heath, host of the 2018 British Masters hosted by Justin Rose.

Lee Trevino

Video: Bobby Jones Wins The 1926 Open At Royal Lytham

There is no sound and the Claret Jug ceremony is set in the middle of the footage, but it's still fun to look at the swings, the clothes, the caddies and especially Royal Lytham & St Annes, host of this week's Women's British Open. (Here are the coverage times.)

Note the bunkering at Lytham then--more sand faced--than the sod wall, typical links style you'll see this week. 

"Tournaments come, and tournaments go. That’s how it is on the PGA Tour."

MorningRead.com's Gary Van Sickle provides some fun memories while reminding us of bad news we already know: nothing lasts forever on PGA Tour.

As two towns integral to men's pro golf prepare to lose events or become less significant in the 2019 schedule--Akron and Houston namely--Van Sickle says this is the history of the PGA Tour, where even the once-vaunted Western Open teetered and is now barely recognizable. 

He also reminds us that someone in Tour headquarters signed off on Cialis as a title sponsor.

History is nice, but our memories often are nearly as short as our modern gnat-sized attention spans. Remember the Western Open? It was a cornerstone of the PGA Tour lineup for decades. Butler National Golf Club, the tournament’s long-time Chicago-area home, was considered a beast by Tour players. The event was seen as being just a notch below a major championship during the 1980s.

Today, the Western Open is long gone, having hit a low point – in my eyes, anyway – when Cialis, an erectile-dysfunction drug, became the title sponsor for a few embarrassing years. Imagine being a female tournament volunteer and having to wear a big Cialis logo on your shirt.

USGA Acquires Probst Golf Collection From PGA Of America

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The PGA of America, longtime holders of the Probst Library featuring an incredible collection of golf books and historic materials, has donated the collection to the USGA Museum.

From the press release:

The Probst Library was developed by South Bend, Indiana-based golf collector Colonel R. Otto Probst, whose passion for the game was kindled in the early 1920s with the acquisition of his first golf artifact. Topics explored through the wide-ranging collection include golf instruction, golf club histories, architecture, equipment, fiction, women in golf, travel, humor, literature and poetry. Several pieces explore Scottish history and its relationship to golf.

“The Probst Collection adds depth and richness to the USGA’s library, providing incredible insight into the game’s cultural and historic evolution,” said Rand Jerris, USGA senior managing director of Public Services. “We are grateful to Colonel Probst and the PGA for cultivating this treasure trove of information, which we can immediately share with fans who love and play the game worldwide.”

Probst (1896-1986) began his collection in 1923 and went on to acquire numerous items from renowned collectors through his life, including Cecil Hopkinson and C.B. Clapcott. In 1938, Justice Earle F. Tilley, a USGA Museum Committee member, endowed his golf library to Probst .

 

Which is all a good reminder for those interested in golf history and in Far Hills, or just searching from home...

Today, the USGA Library is the world’s foremost repository for the game’s history. Books and periodicals in more than 20 languages cover all aspects of the game. Other areas of collecting include sheet music, dissertations, scrapbooks and over 30,000 scorecards from golf clubs worldwide. The Library also contains the personal papers of some of the game’s greatest personalities (including Bob Jones and Walter Travis) and is home to the USGA/PGA African-American Archive of Golf History. The complete library catalog, containing more than 70,000 volumes, can be accessed online at usga.org or in person.