You don’t have to be a sports fan to enjoy a visit to the Ben Hogan Museum, located in a historic building in downtown Dublin, Hogan’s childhood home.
The museum is included in the Travel Channel’s “10 Bucket List Destinations for Golf Fans,” but even non-golfers will find something of interest and will appreciate learning about one of the greatest golfers of all time.
The museum is owned by the Dublin Historical Society, and it is packed with memorabilia and information that history-minded visitors will find interesting. Karen Wright, director of the museum and an officer in the historical society, isn’t a golfer, but she is totally immersed in the historical figure and legend that is Ben Hogan. “My fascination literally is with Ben Hogan as a boy, as a businessman, as a man, and obviously as a golfer,” she said.
The museum has drawn visitors literally from all over the world, including two PGA Tour golfers from Australia – Bruce Devlin and Steve Elkington. Another professional golfer who stopped by recently is J.J. Henry of Fort Worth. Hogan is a legend of the game as one of only five players to have won all four major championships in his career. He was inducted into the PGA of America Hall of Fame in 1953.
Maybe the one historical tidbit that most fascinates Wright is that Hogan turned pro when he was 17 and didn’t win for nine years. That is the very definition of perseverance. Hogan had that trait and others that led to his success instilled in him during his early years in Dublin. He was born August 13, 1912, and grew up frequenting the blacksmith shop owned by his father. When young Ben was just nine years old, his father committed suicide; afterwards, the family moved to Fort Worth.
In 2013, the Texas Historical Commission erected a marker at the site of the Hogan Blacksmith Shop. It noted that Ben Hogan’s grandfather, William Alexander Hogan, a former Confederate States of America Cavalry blacksmith, brought his family from Mississippi to Dublin in 1870 and opened the shop. The marker notes that in addition to being a world champion golfer, Ben Hogan became known for manufacturing golf clubs.
“Ben used blacksmithing skills to modify his golf clubs, and in 1953 opened his own club manufacturing plant, using what he learned about the science and art of metal from his grandfather and father in the Hogan Blacksmith Shop.”
Hogan’s love of golf can be traced to an early job as a caddie. When he started playing the game himself, it took a while before he found success. Just as he was succeeding as a professional golfer, he enlisted in the Army Air Corps to serve in World War II. The museum’s website tells what happened next:
“When he returned to the game afterward, he took a while to return to his former skill level. Then in 1949, at the peak of his career, a head-on car wreck with a Greyhound bus threatened to claim his life. Mr. Hogan survived, but with massive injuries to his legs. In what is considered one of the most impressive comebacks in sports history, Hogan learned to walk again and 16 months later won the 1950 U.S. Open at Merion Golf Club in Pennsylvania. And in 1953, he won the Triple Crown: the Masters, the U.S. Open, and the British Open, all in the same year.”
Plans for the Ben Hogan Museum were announced in 2012 – the 100th anniversary of Hogan’s birth – and it opened a year later. The museum is packed with memorabilia but a couple of things routinely draw attention, Wright, the director, said. People are fascinated with the putter that Hogan designed and used. It features a “sweet spot” that is about the size of Wright’s little fingernail, and it is worn dark by Hogan’s consistency. Another is a bronze sculpture of Hogan based on the famous “one iron shot” photo from the 1950 U.S. Open.
When the Dublin Historical Society decided to create the museum, board members were concerned about filling it, Wright said. But as soon as word got out, people who had stored Hogan memorabilia started donating items to the museum.
His niece, Lisa Scott of California, is heir to Hogan’s estate and is chair of the Ben Hogan Foundation. The Dublin Historical Society worked closely with the foundation to design the museum.
“We are grateful for the foundation’s encouragement,” Wright said, “and Mrs. Scott’s dedication to preserving the archives for her famous uncle.”