American Triumvirate Celebrates Golf's Original Big 3 and how They Changed the Game

By Golf Channel Public RelationsAugust 6, 2012, 4:00 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. (Aug. 6, 2012) – One-hundred years ago, three of the most impactful, game-changing and important names in golf were born three months apart:  Byron Nelson, Sam Snead and Ben Hogan.  Golf Channel will commemorate this centennial next Monday, Aug. 13, the exact 100th birthday of Ben Hogan, at 9 p.m. ET with the worldwide premiere of American Triumvirate, a captivating, hour-long special offering an in-depth look at the careers and lives of each man and who they were beyond the record books.

Narrated by acclaimed actor Kurt Russell, known for his hard-edged, tough guy roles in such movies as “Backdraft” (1991) and “Tombstone” (1993), American Triumvirate, presented with limited commercial interruption by Zurich, will show how this triumvirate of men helped save the sport in America and shape a modern, new era of golf. The film is motivated by American Triumvirate: San Snead, Byron Nelson, Ben Hogan and the Modern Age of Golf written by author and golf historian James Dodson.

Between these three men the numbers are staggering:  198 combined PGA TOUR wins, and 21 combined major titles.  Snead captured more victories than any other man in Tour – perhaps world – history.  Nelson won more events consecutively and in one season than anyone else ever has or ever will.  And Hogan authored the greatest career comeback – and arguably the greatest swing – golf has ever known.  As the documentary transports viewers back to the early days of professional golf, it also highlights the myriad accomplishments of Nelson, Snead and Hogan that shattered the record books – their 198 combined titles are 39 more than Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Gary Player won as The Big Three.

Their accomplishments in golf are well documented, but through archival footage and interviews with family members, historians and contemporaries, American Triumvirate also paints a different picture about these men.  Stories told will shed light on what really defined them, which was so much more than what they accomplished on the golf course.

“Because they were from anonymous places, they had authenticity … these guys did it without any help, they did it by themselves.  They were models of absolute self-determination.” – James Dodson, golf historian and author of “American Triumvirate:  Sam Snead, Byron Nelson, Ben Hogan, and the Modern Age of Golf”

 “You can always argue who was the greatest player, but Byron was the finest gentleman the game has ever known.” – Ken Venturi

The documentary begins with a look back at the 1912 birthplaces of each man, from the high plains and small towns of Texas (Nelson and Hogan) to the Blue Ridge hills of Virginia (Snead).  Captured through past interviews with Nelson and Snead – and through the remembrances of Hogan’s widow, Valerie – viewers will discover how the hardscrabble circumstances of their youth and coming of age during the backdrop of the Great Depression formed for each man a blueprint for future greatness – but greatness achieved in uniquely different ways.  The year, 1912, also saw the Titanic christened and sank, the first transcontinental flight, and famed Fenway Park and Tiger Stadium opened.

Their personal lives also are remembered through countless interviews that were recorded for the documentary.  The final list includes:  golf legends Johnny Miller, Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Lee Trevino and Ken Venturi; Nelson widow Peggy Nelson; noted swing coach Butch Harmon; Hogan widow Valerie Hogan; Snead nephew and former Tour player J.C. Snead; Snead’s son Jack Snead; Hogan protégé Kris Tschetter; Hogan friend Eldridge Miles; former USGA president Bill Campbell; former players Lanny Wadkins, Curtis Strange and David Feherty; Hogan biographer Curt Sampson, USGA historian Rand Jerris, golf historian Martin Davis and golf historian and author James Dodson.  Historical interviews with Sam Snead and Byron Nelson also are included.

American Triumvirate will air on the heels of the 2012 PGA Championship.  Golf Channel will host a special, pre-screening for family and friends of Hogan, Snead and Nelson, and for golf industry professionals tomorrow evening on Kiawah Island, S.C., site of this year’s final major championship tournament.  American Triumvirate was produced by Golf Channel in conjunction with Mickey Holden Productions.

Quotes from the documentary:

“Sam Snead’s tempo was fantastic.  I thought it was the best tempo I’ve ever seen.” – Jack Nicklaus 

“You can always argue who was the greatest player, but Byron was the finest gentleman the game has ever known.” – Ken Venturi 

'Anybody that says 11 straight is no big deal, for any reason, whether it was war time or there was nobody playing or whatever … look at the scores that he shot, the courses that he played.  Eleven straight is astonishing.” – David Feherty on Byron Nelson’s record of 11 consecutive victories on Tour in the late ‘40s. 

“If Tiger didn’t do it in 2000, I don’t see how anybody’s going to do it.  Eighteen wins in one year will never be broken.  Eleven straight … you can’t say anything is impossible, but that’s as close to impossible as I think it will ever be.” – Butch Harmon on Byron Nelson’s two victory records. 

“I remember screaming … I said ‘Ben, it’s going to hit us,” and I didn’t even realize at the moment that he had jumped in front of me.” – Valerie Hogan recounting the collision with a bus in 1949 that seriously injured Ben Hogan and was thought to have permanently ended his golf career. 

'Ben Hogan was a very, very good player before the accident.  I think he was better after the accident.  I think that speaks to how strong his mind, not only his will to survive, will to succeed, and his will to prove everybody wrong that said he couldn’t do something.” – Butch Harmon commenting on Hogan’s inspirational playoff win at the 1950 U.S. Open following his 1949 car accident.

“The golf tournament with his name on it meant so much to him – not because it had his name on it, but because it helped people.” – Peggy Nelson commenting on the Byron Nelson Championship as the working model for charity fundraising on the PGA TOUR.

“He did a lot of things for people in our county that nobody knows about, even the people he did it for didn’t know it was him doing it.  He bought people homes, cars … there was people that got groceries from him for months and months and months that didn’t know where it was coming from.” – Jack Snead on his father’s charitable giving.

“They were out there to make a living, and it was difficult to make a living.  Hogan went broke twice, before he ever won a tournament.” – Rand Jerris, United States Golf Association museum director.

“They were all born in 1912, yet they all dominated at different times.” – Martin Davis, golf historian. 

-NBC Sports Group-

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What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

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Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

The Ryder Cup topped his list.

Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

“Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”

McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

“The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

More bulletin board material, too.

Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

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Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

“I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.