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 mowed pathway through rough 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?

Some golfers call it "Hogan's walkway" or "Hogan's path," in the belief that Ben Hogan was the golfer whose requests to golf course superintendents led them to start mowing the path. But is that true?

The Hogan's Walkway Legend

Why would a mowed path through higher grass, leading to the fairway, be named after Hogan? Is it really named after Hogan, or is that just a legend?

There's definitely a legend side to the story. When we were first asked by a reader to look into this years ago, I checked with the folks at the Golf Course Superintendents Assocation of America. And the GCSAA officials talked to several golf course superintendents who explained the legend behind the origins of the pathway.

The mowed path, according to the legend, started being cut on golf courses after Hogan requested it. As one version of the story goes, Hogan, after asking a superintendent to mow the path for him on each hole, explained that he never hit into the rough, so he was never going to walk through it. In another version, it's all about Hogan's pants. Playing on dewy mornings, he didn't want the cuffs of his pants (or his shoes) to get wet walking through unmowed grass to get from his tee box to the fairway.

But Is the Hogan Origin Story True?

Alas, it turns out the origin of that mowed pathway is more mundane than the Hogan legends. Here's the real story, told by one of the longest-serving superintendents in the GCSAA and passed on to us by GCSAA officials:

"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.

So that's the real story: Hogan had nothing to do with it.

And while most superintendents refer to the mowed strip simply as the walkway or pathway, some do call it — and some golfers do call it — Hogan's Walkway.

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.