Ben Hogan on His 'Putting Impediment' and the 'Sawdust' In His Head

Ben Hogan putting
Even the greats, such as Ben Hogan, can struggle with confidence on the putting greens. Martin Mills/Getty Images

On April 8, 1967, Ben Hogan, then 54 years old, shot a 66 in The Masters that moved him into a tie for fourth place, two strokes off the lead. It was the first tournament he'd played since the previous June. Why? Well, he was 54, and he did have painful leg problems.

But by this point Hogan also had a painful putting problem: He struggled to pull the trigger. He froze over the ball. It happens, sometimes, even to the all-time greats.

On April 9, 1967, the Associated Press recount of the 1967 Masters' third round hit newsstands, and the AP article led with Hogan. It included comments from Hogan about his putting issues and their effect on his willingness to golf. Maybe you'll find them as interesting as I do.

Here is what Hogan said after his round that day:

"That was like going to the blood bank and giving blood 18 times a day. I've got blood in every cup on this course. ...

"I don't know what it is, but something locks between my ears - maybe it's sawdust - and I just can't swing the putter back. That's why it takes me so long to putt, and I know it's awful for the people to watch.

"It's embarrassing for me, even when I'm alone on a practice green. I get up there, and I just can't hit the ball.

"I don't care where the ball goes, I just want to putt it - but sometimes I can't move the club.

"I'm so embarrassed by my putting I hate to play before anybody. ... But I felt much better about it today, and maybe I've got it licked.

"I just have this impediment on my putting stroke. When I can get up there and hit sometimes they still fall in."

So did Hogan have it licked? Alas, no: In the final round of the 1967 Masters, Hogan shot 77 and finished in a tie for 10th place.

See also:

  • That time Ben Hogan suggested eliminating putting from golf