Hogan's Walkway: On the Path Between Tees

Did Ben Hogan Cause Creation of Walkway Through Rough from Teeing Grounds?

mowed pathway leading golfers to the fairway
Did that mowed pathway connecting teeing grounds to fairway enter golf because of Ben Hogan?. Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

You know that closely mown (or at least mowed) pathway that connects the rear tee boxes to the front tee boxes, or the teeing grounds to the fairway, at some golf courses? What's that called, anyway?

That was the question that came from a reader many years ago, and I didn't know the answer at the time. So I checked with the folks who surely would: the Golf Course Superintendents Assocation of America.

They did know the answer: Some people call it "Hogan's Walkway," but it doesn't have any kind of special name that is universally used by superintendents. It's usually just called, even by superintendents, the "walkway" or "pathway."

But when Jeff Bollig, communications director for the GCSAA, looked into it for me, he did come up with an interesting story about the possible origins of the walkway, one involving Ben Hogan (hence the sometimes-used monicker "Hogan's Walkway.")

One superintendent Jeff checked with told him the pathway "dates back to Ben Hogan, who asked the superintendent to mow the path for him. Hogan essentially told the superintendent that he never hit into the rough, so he was never going to walk through it."

Sounds plausible, given Hogan's reputation. And that fact that some people do call it "Hogan's Walkway" lends some credence to that story.

But it turns out the origin of that mowed pathway is more mundane than that.

Here's the real story, told to Jeff by one of the longest-serving superintendents in the GCSAA:

"In the days before hydraulics, superintendents would mow a tee box and then before progressing to the next one (or to the fairway), would have to take the mower out of gear, get off the mower, manually lift the cutting deck and then get back on the mower and proceed. As you might expect, this took time and slowed down the process. Superintendents then decided to just mow the strip rather than lifting the deck. It became a more efficient process for superintendents and the by-product was that golfers did not have to walk through the tall rough."

That longserving superintendent remembered this mowing practice from at least the late 1940s - his father did it at the golf course where he served as head greenskeeper.

There's another practical benefit to the path between tees, too: It helps golfers keep their shoes from getting wet on misty days or in the early morning dew. And instead of having to walk back to the side of the teeing ground and go down the cart path, the golfer can walk straight forward off the tee.

Now you know. Thanks to Jeff Bollig and the GCSAA for their assistance.

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