Ben Hogan’s legacy is defined by his passion for practice, his recovery from his 1949 car crash, his triumphant 1953 season, his 10 major championships (or nine, according those outside Texas), and of course his ball-striking. Everyone wanted to know the secret to his swing, but it was no secret that he was a deadeye off the tee and on his approaches.
To honor Mr. Hogan’s upcoming birthday, our Game of the Week is Hogans. Appropriately enough, it rewards first-rate ball-striking.
How to Play
You can play Hogans as a bit of side action or as a way to win dots in Wolf, Garbage, or Legends. But it can also be its own game. You simply attach a set value of money or points to a single Hogan. At the end of the round, you tally the points and either pay up or get paid. To receive a Hogan, you must accomplish the following:
- Hit your tee shot in the fairway
- Hit your approach on the green
- Two-putt for par
* On a par 3, you earn a Hogan if you hit the green and two-putt.
** On a par 5, you can earn a Hogan if you reach the green in two or three.
While the scoring is simple, actually accumulating Hogans is hard. Maybe even too hard for the everyday golfer. So here are some…
- Play each requirement as a separate Hogan. For example, if you hit the fairway but not the green in regulation, you get one Hogan. Alternately, if you miss the fairway, hit the green, and two-putt for par, you get two Hogans. This variation makes Hogans a particularly dynamic game for those days your course has punched its greens.
- Lend some humor to the game, blending in the peculiar traits and struggles of Ben Hogan’s own game by giving special bonuses, worth one Hogan each, to shots such as the following:
- Hooks that manage to find the fairway or green (in honor of the miss that Hogan fought, especially early in his career)
- Any mishit shot that finds the fairway or green (in honor of Hogan’s mantra, “This is a game of misses”)
- Any shot deemed a “bullet” (in honor of Hogan’s piercing ball flight)
- …. This list could go on and on. Invent your own!
- Hogans can also incorporate the modern notion of Strokes Gained. Any full shot that is better than average and gains strokes can be considered a Hogan. This is a way to determine who in your group hit the most good shots and reward them accordingly.
Playing Hogans puts the focus on precise ball-striking, much as Ben Hogan did in his prime. The game offers a fun method of measuring your skills against those of your competitors while helping manage your expectations if the course’s greens aren’t in ideal shape. We can’t all play like Hogan, but in a round of 18 holes, we may be able to earn a Hogan or two.