GolfChannel.com Senior Writers Rex Hoggard, Jason Sobel, and Randall Mell are all involved with a special celebration of the 100th anniversary of the births of Ben Hogan, Byron Nelson, and Sam Snead called “1912: A Year That Changed The Game.” Sobel is writing about Nelson, Hoggard is writing about Hogan, and Mell is writing about all three men.
In his overview story, Mell wrote about the relationship among the three men and how they all ushered in a new era of golf. The relationships were very complicated and an example is the fact that despite growing up and travelling with Ben Hogan, Byron Nelson felt that he never really knew who Hogan was.
Hoggard said that during his research on Hogan, he discovered a number of anecdotes that revealed a side of Hogan that many never saw. Many would think that Hogan was very intimidating but many of the people who knew Hogan felt that he was very kind and very generous. He had a great sense of humor and also enjoyed spending time around kids and friends as his table at the Shady Oaks CC grill could fit eight people. Hogan was a very talented guy but he was not necessarily the most liked in the eyes of many outsiders.
Sobel said that during his research on Nelson, he was blown away that all of the people who knew Byron said that he wasn’t just a great guy, but he was the greatest person that they had ever met in their lives. Nelson was also a person who a great sense of humor. When you pull into Nelson’s ranch, there is no gate and the same ranch hand has been there for over 30 years. Byron’s wife Peggy still lives at the ranch where there is also still the converted barn where Byron did his woodwork.
All three men tended to have their own groups and there actually are not that many photos of the three men standing together. By all accounts, the three were cordial around each other but they were not exactly the best of buddies all the time. When Hogan died, Nelson was quoted that he wished that more people had seen the kinder side of Hogan instead of the icy side that most people saw. Hogan’s wife removed Nelson’s name from the pallbearer list in the funeral because she was so offended by that quote while Snead was a pallbearer for the service.