April 6: In 1952, as the defending champion, Ben Hogan started one of the great traditions at the Masters Tournament, the Past Champions Dinner “to reminisce, swap banter and relax”, held prior to the start of the match. Members of the Masters Club are the only people invited attend, an elite group that includes past Masters Champions and the Club Chairman – a very exclusive club that all golfers would love to belong. The previous year’s champion selects the menu and serves as host for the dinner.
Ben hosted the inaugural dinner by virtue of his victory in 1951. At the dinner, he was presented with an inscribed gold locket as his welcome into the Masters Club. Ben attended the dinner every year from 1952 until 1972. When asked in 1977 why he wouldn’t be attending he replied from his cluttered desk at the Ben Hogan Golf Company, “I have more things to do than hours to do them in. I just couldn’t make it.” One of contemporaries explained “That’s Ben. He’s very individualistic. He always has been a loner, head-strong, not one to delve in the past. He ducks the limelight. He has intense pride.”
Pictured is the gold locket presented to Ben at the 1952 dinner and the medal he won for winning the Driving Contest.