Saturday, November 8, 2008

Sam Snead vs. Ben Hogan

You know in many ways I have always felt sorry for Sam Snead. So great and such an incredible swing to boot. The Slammer won all of those tournaments (82 PGA Tour events and 70 other tournaments worldwide), but never won the US Open. He came 2nd in the first Open he ever played in in 1937. In 1939 he had his best opportunity ever needing only a par on a relatively benign par 5 18th hole. Snead instead, believing he would need birdie to win, pressed and made 8 thus solidifying perhaps the cruellest of his many painful US Open defeats. He finished 2nd a record 4 times in the US Open. There is a great article by Herbert Warren Wind written in 1956 that you can find in the SI Vault where the picture above came from. Check it out if you want at this link and click on the little "View This Issue" tab when you get there to see something really cool.:

Now in contrast Ben Hogan won 4 US Opens (5 if you're Dan Jenkins and want to count the 1942 Hale America Open) and as such Hogan is remembered in a completely different light than Snead. But you know it is a funny thing. Hogan never did all that well head to head against Snead in playoffs. In fact Snead had a 4-0 record against Hogan in playoffs including a playoff victory over Hogan for the 1954 Masters. But little if any film exists of these matches where Snead was the victor. And so the cruelty against the Snead legacy continues with Shell’s Wonderful World of Golf’s match between Snead and Hogan at the Houston Country Club which aired in February of 1965. You see, as I mentioned above we have little permanent record of Snead’s dominance of Hogan in playoffs on film. Instead we have this match in which Hogan drubs Snead with a flawless (apart from the putting) 69. Hogan hit every fairway and every green in regulation. Gene Sarazen commented that it was the finest round of golf he’d ever seen. Hogan’s only bogey was a three putt. Snead kept it close until the last with an impressive short game display, but it is Hogan’s perfection that is preserved on this film. This video is a must own for anyone who wants to study Hogan in action as he dismantles a long wet difficult golfcourse with careful planning and precision shotmaking. This video is where a lot of the color footage of Hogan on YouTube like this one below originates. I have had it on VHS for years, but you can now get the match on DVD (see link below).


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