Might, Peter. The Open Query: Ben Hogan and Golf’s Most Enduring Controversy. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield, 2021. Pp. xx+163. Bibliographical references and Index. $24.95 hardcover.
Reviewed by Erica J. Zonder
In June 2022, the usOpen can be contested at The Nation Membership in Brookline, Massachusetts. This would be the seventeenth United States Golf Affiliation (USGA) Championship hosted by the Membership, and the fourth U.S. Open. When Brookline final hosted the U.S. Open in 1988, Curtis Unusual received the match, the primary of his two back-to-back championships. Unusual was the primary man to win two in a row since Ben Hogan, arguably one of many biggest male golfers of the 20th century, achieved this uncommon feat in 1950 and 1951. Hogan received 4 U.S. Opens in all, or, as some golf historians, together with Peter Might, would argue, he truly received 5. Thus, the topic of Might’s well-researched guide.
The Open Query: Ben Hogan and Golf’s Most Enduring Controversy isn’t only a guide about whether or not Hogan’s victory within the 1942 Hale America Nationwide Event ought to rely as a U.S. Open. The guide additionally presents an in depth have a look at the lives of 4 golf stars of the period: Hogan, Lloyd Mangrum, Jimmy Demaret, and Bobby Jones. He highlights their World Struggle II service data and the warfare’s affect on them personally, in addition to the way it formed golf in the USA and elsewhere. Might divides his exploration into three principal sections: Half I establishes the cancellation of the originally-scheduled U.S. Open at Interlachen and the following institution of the Hale America Nationwide Open in 1942; Half II is split into 4 subsections, with every subsection overlaying one spherical of the match whereas concurrently delving into one of many 4 golfers lives; Half III dives deep into the continued controversy as Might makes his case that Hogan truly received 5 U.S. Opens.
A lot of golf was placed on maintain throughout World Struggle II, and the U.S. Open was no exception because it was “canceled” in 1942. The USGA thought the staging of occasions to be “improper” and that golf organizations ought to deal with service to the nation in the course of the warfare (p. 10). The match had equally been canceled in World Struggle I. As a substitute, members of the Chicago District Golf Affiliation proposed that the dates of the match be used to stage a warfare reduction fundraiser within the Chicago space, whereas additionally calling for different native Hale tournaments at member nation golf equipment across the nation (p. 11). John B. Kelly, a “rich weekend golfer” from Philadelphia who was given the title Assistant Director of Civilian Protection in Cost of Bodily Health, led the cost. He noticed this as a chance for train (therefore the identify “Hale” as in hearty/wholesome). In keeping with Kelly, “eight million individuals can be going into the Armed Forces. My job is to take care of 124 million who received’t or can’t go,” (p. 12). The U.S. Open was not formally held once more till post-war 1946.
Might, whereas delving into every of the 4 golfers’ service data, additionally addresses the privilege related to aggressive golf. Bobby Jones, in contrast to the opposite three, was a rich celebrity who received many “majors,” which for years included prestigious novice occasions within the “grand slam.” Mangrum, Demaret and Hogan got here from one other ilk––all have been compelled to work as youngsters, and it was by working as caddies that launched them to the game. All three turned skilled early as a way to an finish. Mangrum “developed the intuition of a survivor…who hustled at every little thing as a result of he had no selection,” (p. 35). Hogan knew “what it means to be hungry,” and additional he “by no means intend(s) to be hungry once more,” (p. 55). Demaret was “one in every of Texas’ most celebrated highschool drop outs,” (p. 70).
After the Hale, all 4 served in the course of the warfare in numerous capacities. Mangrum’s file incorporates contradictions, however he appears to have enlisted in 1943, gone abroad, received injured in some unspecified time in the future, and will or could not have received battle stars and earned Purple Hearts. In a letter to the PGA Event director, he acknowledged he “cheated dying many instances and (has) been fairly fortunate,” (p. 44). Hogan was drafted in 1943, and regardless of having no highschool diploma, was assigned to Officer’s Candidate College the place he was concerned in flight coaching, performed some golf, and remained stateside. Hogan didn’t thoughts going into the military, stating, “it’s one thing that needs to be performed and one thing anybody must be proud to do,” (p. 62). Demaret served stateside within the Navy and “principally performed quite a lot of golf.” In keeping with Demaret, “each warfare has its slogan…. Mine was ‘That’ll play, Admiral,’” (p. 76). Jones was on the back-end of his profession by the point of the Hale, as he was already a profitable lawyer in Atlanta. He enlisted the day after the match, and was charged with defending the Atlantic Seaboard from potential German assaults. He finally made his method abroad for some seven months and presumably landed in Normandy on “D-Day plus one,” (p. 99).
When it comes to the Hale itself, Might’s deep dive into whether or not the match must be thought of a U.S. Open (and even thought of a “main”) is totally researched and eloquently pleaded. His proof: the USGA was concerned (and the USGA solely ran championship occasions), the “terrific” subject included many of the finest golfers of the period, Hogan’s victory gave it status and it was lined by many of the main newspapers of the day, and he obtained the identical, or just about the identical, medal as he did for his different U.S. Open victories. The USGA disagreed and in 2020 tried to lastly put the controversy to relaxation in an announcement, calling the Hale a “singular” match held to boost cash for warfare reduction whose objective was “to not decide a nationwide champion,” (p. 109). Moreover, the “auspices, subject and format have been inconsistent with a U.S. Open,” (p. 110). The USGA additionally claimed the aspect occasions, like a trick shot exhibition, have been inconsistent with the standard match. Most “telling,” in accordance with the USGA, have been the prizes. The gold medal was purported to go to the U.S. Open winner that yr and had already been created so, due to wartime cutbacks, it was “repurposed” and engraved in a different way. And at last, Hogan was not awarded the trophy, it remained within the arms of the 1941 winner, Craig Wooden, and was not handed alongside till 1946 (p. 110).
Might examined the “auspices” and concluded that the USGA enforced its guidelines and rules on the match, which it solely does at main occasions, and it solely runs one skilled males’s championship a yr, which in 1942 was the Hale America (p. 113). When it comes to “format,” the match had numerous codecs over time, however was 72 holes throughout that period. The Hale additionally was 72 holes, simply unfold out over 4 days because of the potential of extra cash being raised over 4 days as a substitute of three (36 holes had been performed on the primary day the yr earlier than). May additionally insists the aspect occasions did “not detract from the standard of play,” (p. 113). The “subject,” as beforehand talked about, was “distinctive.” The complete subject included most all the most effective golfers of the period, excluding PGA Champion Sam Snead, who was already serving, and the US Novice Champion Bud Ward. The USGA appears to consider in any other case, which Might finds to be the “most disingenuous argument of all,” (p. 114). As Might notes, the British Open was thought of a serious when gamers didn’t journey abroad so not all the most effective performed. Hogan didn’t play within the 1949 U.S. Open as he was recovering from a severe automobile accident. Extra just lately, Tiger Woods has missed many tournaments because of harm (though miraculously teeing it up within the 2022 Masters). This argument thus doesn’t “ring true,” (p. 115).
May additionally examined the course, which the USGA has prompt was not “toughen(ed) sufficient” for a U. S. Open and was thought of a “membership course” in accordance with outstanding golf author Grantland Rice (p. 115). Might argues that everybody was taking part in the identical course, and 75 % of the sector couldn’t break par after 4 rounds. And, there are many different programs in U.S. Open historical past which have been maligned. Might additional addressed the scoring usually, as Hogan shot a 62 in spherical 2 that might be thought of a U.S. Open file, standing even immediately. Nevertheless, the scores weren’t so inconsistent with scores within the match now. Lastly, he examined the gamers’ views on this, which have been blended. Hogan clearly felt that this victory must be counted as a U.S. Open victory. Nick Faldo, a serious champion himself however by no means a winner of a U.S. Open, requested Hogan in 1992 the way to win the match and Hogan stated, “If by Sunday night, you’ve gotten shot the bottom rating, I promise you they will provide you with a medal. I do know. I’ve 5 of them,” (p. 120).
Might goes on to have a look at the return of the U.S. Open in 1946, which was received by Mangrum and the place he obtained the trophy that had been final awarded in 1941. He additionally examines Jones’ friendship with Common and shortly to be President Eisenhower, in addition to the Jones’ creation of Augusta Nationwide, house of the Masters. He moreover chronicles the later lives of Mangrum, Hogan, and Demaret.
Within the Epilogue, Might shares the “clincher”––a single signed piece of paper (a picture is included within the guide), now within the arms of a Hogan fanatic or “Hoganista,” which lists all of Hogan’s main victories. Hogan hand wrote 1942 subsequent to the opposite 4 U.S. Open years, and signed it on the backside.
Erica Zonder is an Assistant Professor of Sport Administration at Japanese Michigan College. She earned a J.D. from the College of Michigan and a Masters of Science in Sport Administration from Japanese Michigan College. She will be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and will be adopted on Twitter @EricaZonder.