American Triumvirate: Sam Snead, Byron Nelson, Ben Hogan, and the Modern Age of Golf

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In this celebration of three legendary champions on the centennial of their births in 1912, one of the most accomplished and successful writers about the game explains the circumstances that made each of them so singularly brilliant and how they, in turn, saved not only the professional tour but modern golf itself, thus making possible the subsequent popularity of players from Arnold Palmer to Tiger Woods.
 
During the Depression—after the exploits of Walter Hagen and Gene Sarazen and Bobby Jones (winning the Grand Slam as an amateur in 1930) had faded in the public’s imagination—golf’s popularity fell year after year, and as a spectator sport it was on the verge of extinction. This was the unhappy prospect facing two dirt-poor boys from Texas and another from Virginia who had dedicated themselves to the game yet could look forward only to eking out a subsistence living along with millions of other Americans. But then lightning struck, and from the late thirties into the fifties these three men were so thoroughly dominant—each setting a host of records—that they transformed both how the game was played and how society regarded it.
 
Sports fans in general are well aware of Hogan and Nelson and Snead, but even the most devoted golfers will learn a great many new things about them here. Their hundredth birthdays will be commemorated throughout 2012—Nelson born in February, Snead in May, and Hogan in August—but as this comprehensive and compelling account vividly demonstrates, they were, and will always remain, a triumvirate for the ages.
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About the author

James Dodson is the editor of O. Henry and PineStraw magazines and an award-winning writer-in-residence at The Pilot newspaper. He is the author of Ben Hogan’s authorized biography and worked with Arnold Palmer on his, and his other best-selling books include Final Rounds, The Dewsweepers, and A Son of the Game. He wrote a column for Golf Magazine for nearly twenty years, and in 2011 he received the Donald Ross Award from the American Society of Golf Course Architects for his contribution to golf literature.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Vintage
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Published on
Mar 13, 2012
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Pages
400
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ISBN
9780307957399
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Language
English
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Genres
Biography & Autobiography / Historical
Biography & Autobiography / Sports
Sports & Recreation / Golf
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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Authorized, intimate, and definitive, Ben Hogan: A Life is the long-awaited biography of one of golf’s greatest, most enigmatic legends, narrated with the unique eloquence that has made author James Dodson a critically acclaimed national bestseller.

One man is often credited with shaping the landscape of modern golf. Ben Hogan was a short, trim, impeccably dressed Texan whose fierce work ethic, legendary steel nerves, and astonishing triumph over personal disaster earned him not only an army of adoring fans, but one of the finest careers in the history of the sport. Hogan captured a record-tying four U.S. Opens, won five of six major tournaments in a single season, and inspired future generations of professional golfers from Palmer to Norman to Woods.

Yet for all his brilliance, Ben Hogan was an enigma. He was an American hero whose personal life, inner motivation, and famed “secret” were the source of great public mystery. As Hogan grew into a giant on the pro tour, the combination of his cool outward demeanor and invincible, laser-guided accuracy on the golf course froze formidable opponents in their tracks. In 1949, at the peak of his career, Hogan’s mystique was reinforced by a catastrophic automobile accident in which he and his wife, Valerie, were nearly killed after being hit head-on by a Greyhound bus. Doctors predicted Hogan might never walk again – let alone set foot on another golf course. But his miraculous three-year recovery and comeback led to one of the greatest performances in golf history when in 1953 he won the Masters, the U.S. Open, and the British Open (something that’s never been repeated).

In this first-ever family-authorized biography, renowned author James Dodson expertly and emotionally reconstructs Hogan’s complicated life. He discovers an intensely honest man handicapped by self-doubt, buoyed by the determination to prove his own abilities, and unable to escape a long-buried childhood tragedy – the core of the Hogan “secret.” Dodson also reveals both the legendary devotion and eventual strain in Hogan’s sixty-two-year marriage, and a Hogan rarely seen by the public: a warm, jovial man whose charitable spirit and sharp business sense enabled him to build the powerful golf equipment company bearing his name to this day. Ben Hogan: A Life is the authoritative inside portrait golf fans have long awaited.
The Big Miss is Hank Haney’s candid and surprisingly insightful account of his tumultuous six-year journey with Tiger Woods, during which the supremely gifted golfer collected six major championships and rewrote golf history. Hank was one of the very few people allowed behind the curtain. He was with Tiger 110 days a year, spoke to him over 200 days a year, and stayed at his home up to 30 days a year, observing him in nearly every circumstance: at tournaments, on the practice range, over meals, with his wife, Elin, and relaxing with friends.
 
The relationship between the two men began in March 2004 when Hank received a call from Tiger in which the golf champion asked him to be his coach. It was a call that would change both men’s lives.
 
Tiger—only 28 at the time—was by then already an icon, judged by the sporting press as not only one of the best golfers ever, but possibly the best athlete ever. Already he was among the world’s highest paid celebrities. There was an air of mystery surrounding him, an aura of invincibility. Unique among athletes, Tiger seemed to be able to shrug off any level of pressure and find a way to win.
 
But Tiger was always looking to improve, and he wanted Hank’s help.
 
What Hank soon came to appreciate was that Tiger was one of the most complicated individuals he’d ever met, let alone coached. Although Hank had worked with hundreds of elite golfers and was not easily impressed, there were days watching Tiger on the range when Hank couldn’t believe what he was witnessing. On those days, it was impossible to imagine another human playing golf so perfectly.
 
And yet Tiger is human—and Hank’s expert eye was adept at spotting where Tiger’s perfection ended and an opportunity for improvement existed. Always haunting Tiger was his fear of “the big miss”—the wildly inaccurate golf shot that can ruin an otherwise solid round—and it was because that type of blunder was sometimes part of Tiger’s game that Hank carefully redesigned his swing mechanics.
 
Hank’s most formidable coaching challenge, though, would be solving the riddle of Tiger’s personality. Wary of the emotional distractions that might diminish his game and put him further from his goals, Tiger had developed a variety of tactics to keep people from getting too close, and not even Hank—or Tiger’s family and friends, for that matter—was spared “the treatment.”
 
Toward the end of Tiger and Hank’s time together, the champion’s laser-like focus began to blur and he became less willing to put in punishing hours practicing—a disappointment to Hank, who saw in Tiger’s behavior signs that his pupil had developed a conflicted relationship with the game. Hints that Tiger hungered to reinvent himself were present in his bizarre infatuation with elite military training, and—in a development Hank didn’t see coming—in the scandal that would make headlines in late 2009. It all added up to a big miss that Hank, try as he might, couldn’t save Tiger from.
 
There’s never been a book about Tiger Woods that is as intimate and revealing—or one so wise about what it takes to coach a superstar athlete.
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