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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Vegas helicopters in to Carnoustie, without clubs

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 19, 2018, 9:33 am

Jhonattan Vegas did some range work, putted a little and strolled to the first tee for his 5:31 a.m. ET start in the 147th Open Championship.

Everything before that, however, was far from routine.

Vegas' visa to travel to Scotland expired and the process to renew it got delayed - and it looked like his overseas' flight might suffer the same fate. Vegas, upon getting his visa updated, traveled from Houston, Texas to Toronto, Canada to Glasgow, Scotland, and then took a helicopter to Carnoustie.

He arrived in time on Thursday morning, but his clubs did not. Mizuno put together some irons for him and TaylorMade got him his preferred metal woods. He hit the clubs for the first time on the range, less than 90 minutes before his start.

"I'm going to go out there and play with freedom," Vegas told Golf Channel's Todd Lewis.

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How to watch The Open on TV and online

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 19, 2018, 5:40 am

You want to watch the 147th Open? Here’s how you can do it.

Golf Channel and NBC Sports will be televising 182 hours of overall programming from the men's third major of the year at Carnoustie

In addition to the traditional coverage, the two networks will showcase three live alternate feeds: marquee groups, featured holes (our new 3-hole channel) and spotlight action. You can also watch replays of full-day coverage, Thursday-Sunday, in the Golf Channel app, NBC Sports apps, and on  

Here’s the weekly TV schedule, with live stream links in parentheses. You can view all the action on the Golf Channel mobile, as well. Alternate coverage is noted in italics:

(All times Eastern; GC=Golf Channel; NBC=NBC Sports; or check the GLE app)

Monday, July 16

GC: 7-9AM: Morning Drive (

GC: 9-11AM: Live From The Open (

GC: 7-9PM: Live From The Open (

Tuesday, July 17

GC: 6AM-2PM: Live From The Open (

Wednesday, July 18

GC: 6AM-2PM: Live From The Open (

Thursday, July 19

GC: Midnight-1:30AM: Midnight Drive (

GC: Day 1: The Open, live coverage: 1:30AM-4PM ( Day 1: The Open, Spotlight: 1:30AM-4PM ( Day 1: The Open, Marquee Groups: 4AM-3PM ( Day 1: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 4AM-3PM (

GC: Live From The Open: 4-5PM (

Friday, July 20

GC: Day 2: The Open, live coverage: 1:30AM-4PM ( Day 2: The Open, Spotlight: 1:30AM-4PM ( Day 2: The Open, Marquee Groups: 4AM-3PM ( Day 2: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 4AM-3PM (

GC: Live From The Open: 4-5PM (

Saturday, July 21

GC: Day 3: The Open, live coverage: 4:30-7AM (

NBC: Rd. 3: The Open, live coverage: 7AM-3PM ( Day 3: The Open, Spotlight: 4:30AM-3PM ( Day 3: The Open, Marquee Groups: 5AM-3PM ( Day 3: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 5AM-3PM (

GC: Live From The Open: 3-4PM (

Sunday, July 22

GC: Day 4: The Open, live coverage: 4:30-7AM (

NBC: Rd. 4: The Open, live coverage: 7AM-2:30PM ( Day 4: The Open, Spotlight: 4:30AM-2:30PM ( Day 4: The Open, Marquee Groups: 5AM-2PM ( Day 4: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 5AM-2PM (

GC: Live From The Open: 2:30-4PM (

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The Open 101: A guide to the year's third major

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 19, 2018, 5:30 am

Take a look at some answers to frequently asked questions about The Open:

What's all this "The Open" stuff? I thought it was the British Open.

What you call it has historically depended on where you were. If you were in the U.S., you called it the British Open, just as Europeans refer to the PGA Championship as the U.S. PGA. Outside the U.S. it generally has been referred to as The Open Championship. The preferred name of the organizers is The Open.

How old is it?

It's the oldest golf championship, dating back to 1860.

Where is it played?

There is a rotation – or "rota" – of courses used. Currently there are 10: Royal Birkdale, Royal St. George's, Royal Liverpool and Royal Lytham and St. Annes, all in England; Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland and St. Andrews, Carnoustie, Royal Troon, Turnberry and Muirfield, all in Scotland. Muirfield was removed from the rota in 2016 when members voted against allowing female members, but when the vote was reversed in 2017 it was allowed back in.

Where will it be played this year?

At Carnoustie, which is located on the south-eastern shore of Scotland.

Who has won The Open on that course?

Going back to the first time Carnoustie hosted, in 1931, winners there have been Tommy Armour, Henry Cotton (1937), Ben Hogan (1953), Gary Player (1968), Tom Watson (1975), Paul Lawrie (1999), Padraig Harrington (2007).

Wasn't that the year Hogan nearly won the Slam?

Yep. He had won the Masters and U.S. Open that season, then traveled to Carnoustie and won that as well. It was the only time he ever played The Open. He was unable to play the PGA Championship that season because the dates conflicted with those of The Open.

Jean Van de Velde's name should be on that list, right?

This is true. He had a three-shot lead on the final hole in 1999 and made triple bogey. He lost in a playoff to Lawrie, which also included Justin Leonard.

Who has won this event the most?

Harry Vardon, who was from the Channel Island of Jersey, won a record six times between 1896 and 1914. Australian Peter Thomson, American Watson, Scot James Braid and Englishman J.H. Taylor each won five times.

What about the Morrises?

Tom Sr. won four times between 1861 and 1867. His son, Tom Jr., also won four times, between 1868 and 1872.

Have players from any particular country dominated?

In the early days, Scots won the first 29 Opens – not a shocker since they were all played at one of three Scottish courses, Prestwick, St. Andrews and Musselburgh. In the current era, going back to 1999 (we'll explain why that year in a minute), the scoreboard is United States, nine wins; South Africa, three wins; Ireland, two wins; Northern Ireland, two wins; and Sweden, one win. The only Scot to win in that period was Lawrie, who took advantage of one of the biggest collapses in golf history.

Who is this year's defending champion?

That would be American Jordan Spieth, who survived an adventerous final round to defeat Matt Kuchar by three strokes and earn the third leg of the career Grand Slam.

What is the trophy called?

The claret jug. It's official name is the Golf Champion Trophy, but you rarely hear that used. The claret jug replaced the original Challenge Belt in 1872. The winner of the claret jug gets to keep it for a year, then must return it (each winner gets a replica to keep).

Which Opens have been the most memorable?

Well, there was Palmer in 1961and '62; Van de Velde's collapse in 1999; Hogan's win in 1953; Tiger Woods' eight-shot domination of the 2000 Open at St. Andrews; Watson almost winning at age 59 in 2009; Doug Sanders missing what would have been a winning 3-foot putt at St. Andrews in 1970; Tony Jacklin becoming the first Briton to win the championship in 18 years; and, of course, the Duel in the Sun at Turnberry in 1977, in which Watson and Jack Nicklaus dueled head-to-head over the final 36 holes, Watson winning by shooting 65-65 to Nicklaus' 65-66.

When I watch this tournament on TV, I hear lots of unfamiliar terms, like "gorse" and "whin" and "burn." What do these terms mean?

Gorse is a prickly shrub, which sometimes is referred to as whin. Heather is also a shrub. What the scots call a burn, would also be considered a creek or stream.