Many books have explored with awestruck reverence the Ben Hogan “mystique” and the legend’s remarkable record inside the ropes. The Brothers Hogan: a Fort Worth History endeavors to humanize and demystify the golfing icon in a way few golf fans have ever seen. With details collected and shared by Hogan’s niece Jacqueline Hogan Towery, her late husband Robert Towery along with Austinite Peter Barbour, this book reveals Hogan, the family man while lovingly recalling what a sweet life could be had in the boom years of early- and mid-20th century Fort Worth.
Towery, the daughter of Ben Hogan’s brother Royal, was aware her uncle was one of golf’s most successful and captivating figures but she also knew his fun and compassionate side. Jacque, as she’s referred to in the book, shares this insight:
Uncle Ben was much more social than folks realize… When not at Shady Oaks, Uncle Ben loved listening to Bing Crosby records, going out to romantic movies, and dancing. When he was delighted by something, he would clap his hands together like a child.
Hogan enthusiasts who think they’ve heard every story or every angle in the legend’s history will enjoy this fresh perspective. The familiar tales are all there: Hogan overcoming the hooks to become the game’s most proficient ball-striker and the best player of his generation, Hogan’s majors and incredible comeback after his near-fatal auto crash in 1949. Along with those, readers also get a glimpse into Hogan’s private world, his dearest relationships and how he enjoyed city he called home.
Plenty of golfers know the 16th hole at Lions Municipal in Austin is known as the “Hogan Hole” and probably even know the story of Hogan remarking the par four was the only one he’d seen with “no fairway” while playing an exhibition match at Lions in 1950. That day, Hogan partnered with Harvey Penick to take on then-collegians Morris Williams and Ed Hopkins. He gave the crowd a show, not only by firing a 67, but by clowning, taking pratfalls and playing a character completely unlike his steely public persona.
“He showed up late for the schedule tee time (Editor’s Note: Ben Hogan was never late for anything), staggered on to the first tee box with his famous white golf cap on sideways. He swung at the ball and whiffed it,” recalls the late Robert Towery. Hogan goofed his way down the fairway, stumbling, clowning and duffing his way to 7 before returning to character and finishing the round well under par. Weeks later would capture the 1950 U.S. Open at Merion, considered by many as his signature victory.
The Brothers Hogan also lets readers in on the card games at Shady Oaks, the family dinners at Joe T. Garcias and respective offices and board rooms of Ben and Royal Hogan, two men who overcame tragedy and left legacies that still bear weight and inspiration in Fort Worth and beyond.
If you enjoy the flow and precision of a history book with the warmth of a family memoir, pick up The Brothers Hogan. Order the book from TCU Press: http://www.prs.tcu.edu/book-pages/barbour_brothers_hogan.asp.