1951: Ben Hogan wins the World Golf Championships at the Tam O’Shanter Country Club

Pictured are Ben Hogan and Babe Didrikson Zaharias congratulating each other after their victories in the World Championship Golf Tourney at Tam O'Shanter Country Club, in Niles Illinois.

This Day in Hogan History: 


By: Mark Baron – On August 12 1951, Ben Hogan shot a final round 66 at the World Championship of Golf at the Tam O’Shanter Country Club in Niles Illinois to win the tournament by three shots, 15-under par 273, winning the highest payout of the year, $12,500.

In the first round Ben shot a 68 to end up in a seven-way tie along with Eric Cremin, Cary Middlecoff, Jerry Barber, Lawson Little, Earl Stewart, Glenn Teal and E. J. Harrison, one stroke behind the four leaders, Jimmy Demaret, Ted Kroll, Al Brosch and Ray Gafford.  In all, 46 golfers broke par, the most ever recorded at this event.

In the second round Ben shot a 69 to end up tied for second place along with Clayton Heafner, one stroke back of Jimmy Demaret.

In the third round Ben shot a 70 for a three round total of 207 to end up in a tie for third along with Lloyd Mangrum, Sam Snead and Bobby Locke who shot the day’s best round of 64.  They were five strokes back of Jimmy Demaret who shot a 66 for a 54-hole total of 205.  Clayton Heafner finished in second place two strokes back.

Hogan trailed the 54-hole leader, Jimmy Demaret by five strokes entering the last round.  His outward nine hole total of 33 cut the lead to one as Demaret shot a 37.  Ben matched his score on the first nine with another 33 on the inward nine to win the tournament by three strokes as Demaret shot another 37.  Ben’s only bogie came on the first hole where he overshot the green with his approach shot out of the rough.  He then birdied the next three holes with a pitch shot on the second that landed within 10 feet of the hole, a four foot putt on the third and a 75 foot chip shot that went in.  He also birdied the ninth hole by virtue of a pitch shot to within one foot of the hole.

In 1951, Ben played a limited schedule, only six events (the Masters, US Open, Colonial, W/D from Phoenix and the Greenbrier, an unofficial PGA event), yet his $12,500 payout shot him from seventh to second place on the season’s money list with $20,400, trailing Lloyd Mangrum with $21,078.  Ben was actually paid closer to $25,000 as he agreed to only play in the tournament upon payment of somewhat more than $10,000 for his appearance.

Hogan received many ovations as he approached the greens and he responded by tipping the bill of his cap.  He was quoted after the tournament, “My next meet will be the Master’s next April.  I’m going home to Fort Worth with Val (his wife) today.  Might play a few exhibitions however.” –  (For at least $1,500 apiece)

Pictured is Ben Hogan crossing a bridge at the 1951 World Championship of Golf.

This was the tournament that Ben refused to play in 1948, even though he was the defending champion and it had the highest payout of the year (Lloyd Mangrum won $15,000 for the victory, compared to that of Hogan’s win the prior week at the Western Open of $2,500).  He refused to play because the organizer of the event, George S. May, had all of the players wear numbers on their backs so they could be easily recognized by the fans and press, which Ben found distasteful.  When it was decided that the caddies would wear the numbers, Ben agreed to participate.

This is an example, as demonstrated on numerous occasions throughout his life, how he never compromised his integrity for money (no matter the sum).  Yesterday’s post about the startup of the Ben Hogan Golf Club Manufacturing business clearly demonstrated his standard of integrity.  He would not allow products with the Ben Hogan name go out on the market unless he was proud to present it.

The World Championship of Golf tournament was unique in that it was played over a two week period and included competitions for amateurs (men’s and women’s) and professionals (men’s and women’s).  Ben won the men’s professional tournament by three strokes over Jimmy Demaret and Babe Didrikson Zaharias won the ladies professional tournament (an event she won four consecutive years 1948 – 1951).

On this day, the USGA announced that the stymie will be abolished and that the penalty for out of bounds will be stroke and distance.

Mark Baron

Mark Baron is a Ben Hogan expert who posts daily about the legend. Check out Mark's huge following on the Ben Hogan Facebook Page and stay tuned for special Hogan anniversaries for Mark's insight. Check out the page here: www.facebook.com/benhogangolf

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