Ardent golfers, historians and enthusiastic Dubliners gathered Saturday night to celebrate the 100th birthday of legendary golfer Ben Hogan and the first full year of the Ben Hogan Museum as family and former caddies unveiled several one-of-a-kind relics of the man who rose to stardom from his humble beginnings at a Dublin blacksmith shop.
A bronze statue of Hogan, five prototype putters he developed and photographs used for the all-time best-selling golfer's guide he wrote in the 1950s were among the treasures presented at the second annual Ben Hogan Banquet. The Hogan family heir also named the museum the official archives of the Dublin-native's personal and professional history.
Hogan is considered one the greatest golfers in the history of the game. Today he is remembered for his profound influence on the golf swing theory and his legendary ball-striking ability for which he remains renowned among notable players and fans.
The 40-inch-tall bronze statue depicts Hogan's famous 1-iron shot from the 1950 U.S. Open at Meriom, Pennsylvania. The mold was created based on the picture of the tournament-winning swing hanging in the museum.
"The new bronze statue is such a focal point of the museum now," Museum Director Karen Wright said. "It gives such credibility and beauty to the museum when you see this magnificent piece of art."
It was designed and cast in Chicago by Dr. John Giannini.
Lisa Scott, Hogan's great-niece and heiress to the estate, made the surprise announcement via video from Pacific Palisades, California that the museum will serve as the Hogan family archives.
"That was such a huge announcement. The fact that the family trusts us to maintain the Hogan archives is very humbling," Wright said.
The museum will begin receiving the archives later this week with the delivery of Valerie Hogan's personal scrapbooks.
Hogan's nine major career championships tie him for fourth all-time record with Gary Player, trailing Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods and Walter Hagen. He is one of only five golfers to have won the Master's Tournament, the British Open, the U.S. Open and the PGA Championship.
In the tee box, Hogan swung with a deep hook, which led him to eventually sell expertly engineered golf clubs through the Ben Hogan Company.
Many of Hogan's clubs including several prototypes are on display after a second surprise announcement by Hogan's former caddie and golf pro Mike Wright. After recounting several personal stories of working with Hogan, Wright pulled five putters Hogan engineered from a nearby golf bag. He described how Hogan would stay up late at night perfecting each club and putter with unique designs to correct his hard hook.
Hogan's prototypes of eight other clubs are also on display at the museum and are known as the "clubs that never were" since each was developed just before the Ben Hogan Company closed and were never mass produced.
The 1953 season is known as the "Hogan Slam" after he won five of the six tournaments he entered including three major championships. It still stands among the greatest single seasons by a professional golfer.
The negatives of photographs used to illustrate Hogan's notorious book Five Lessons: The Modern Fundamentals of Golf were also donated to the museum Saturday night. The Five Lessons were initially published in a Sports Illustrated series in 1957 and the book is currently in its 64th printing. The negatives were discovered by Boston resident Brian McGraph, who unexpectedly acquired the images from Anthony Ravielli who illustrated the book's first publication.
Hogan was born in 1912 and grew up in Dublin until 1921. Following the death of his father and to help his mother make ends meat, Hogan began selling newspapers at the train depot before becoming a caddy at the Glen Garden Country Club alongside Byron Nelson who later become a tour rival.
"The Hawk," as Hogan came to be known, possessed fierce determination which led him from Dublin to Fort Worth in 1921 before he broke through as a professional golfer while still struggling financially.
The Hogan archives include the personal daily ledgers that detail Hogan's eventual rise to elitism.
"For the people who kept up with Hogan's career and know of those dark days in the beginning, the black books tell an exciting story of overcoming hardship," Wright said. "You really feel their struggles and realize how little money they had when you handle and read the black books now at the museum."
The Ben Hogan Museum collection has nearly doubled following Saturday night's contributions.
"We now have the ability to paint the full picture of Ben Hogan's life from his humble beginnings in Dublin, Texas to his legendary performances on the fairways and his extensive knowledge and intricate skill designing clubs," Wright said. "We couldn't be more proud and appreciative of all the generous contributions that make up this world-class museum of Dublin's own."