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  The Match

About Sam Snead vs. Ben Hogan Match:

Keep in mind:


In 1965 there were NO metal woods, very, very few graphite shafts and nothing like what is used today by most Touring pro’s drivers and fairway woods. These guys were playing with real Wood-Wood heads on all of their “wood clubs”.

Also, the balls were all “wound” inter cores, no 2-piece, and 3-piece “hot” construction. The covers were “balata” and if you bellied the ball (hit it in the middle) it would cut the cover. Balls got out of perfect roundness easily and often.

What’s the big deal, so what? Well, go play sometime with a wooden head club and some balls of that era and you will really be able to appreciate how good these players were during this era.

The Match was played over a two day period. It rained a lot in-between shooting and it was, of course, very Texas humid. So, this already long golf course played very soft and slow.



What to watch:



Besides Ben Hogan hitting every green in regulation and Sam Snead getting it up and down on a couple tough holes to stay even, there can be a lot to observe as you browse the Match.

How do they prepare for each shot, what are the similarities and differences between the two players? What does their swing motions look like from shot to shot? Pretty darn consistent from the 1st hole to the last hole. See how they would work the ball (draw or fade). If they didn’t, there would be a lot of monster putts on Houston Country Club’s huge rolling greens.


The only time that Snead and Hogan ever played a head to head 18 hole exhibition match for national television took place at the Houston Country Club in 1965. It aired February 21,1965 as part of SHELL'S Wonderful World of Golf: Classic Golf Matches from Around the World series.



  First and Third Holes



Staged in May 1964 at the Houston Country Club, it originally aired on February 21, 1965. This was a big match, even by Shell standards. The sponsor didn’t invite reporters to cover the matches, but this one was so big, they made an exception. Famed New York sportswriter Red Smith was among the estimated 5,000 in the gallery.


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1st Hole 443 yard par 4



The 1st Hole was a straight away, tree lined, paired shaped green with bunkers guarding both left and right sides.

Hogan hit a draw (ball flight bending slightly right to left) to the exact center of fairway.


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Snead hit a slight pulled shot to left side of fairway. He will have to contend with a tree on his line of flight.



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2nd shot - 1st hole.

With the pin tucked on the far left side of this huge green,hitting a 6 iron, Hogan started his ball way to right curving left to 10-12 feet from the hole.


1st hole second shot

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Sam was about 8 yards past Hogan's drive on left side of fairway. Hitting a 6 iron also, he hit a straight away shot, clearing the tree, pin high to the left.



Snead was 18 feet away with a left to right break to his putt. The greens were hard to putt because they were grainy Bermuda grass greens, they were wet and consequently slower depending on the direction of the Bermuda grass growth angles.Sam's putt was against the grain (usually slower) so he had to judge that factor along with what the wetness of the green overall.He hit his putt a little too firm and was left with a "testy" short putt for par on this first hole.



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Hogan's putt was 11 feet, with a right to left break and WITH the grain. So it should be much quicker, not factoring in what the wetness of the grass is going to do to it's roll? He also left a "tester" putt for par. Being the first hole is what makes those putts important and sometimes nerve racking, even for Snead and Hogan.


Since Hogan hit all 14 fairways and 18 greens during this match, with a little better putting could have shot a really low score. Much is made about Ben playing a fade but on the first hole he hit a draw driver and a draw iron into the green. He basically played whatever the hole called for.


This match pitted Snead's colorful straw hat against Hogan's plain white cap. Snead's folksy talkativeness against Hogan's intense taciturnity. Snead's long, lyrical swing against Hogan's taut, mechanical action.



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3rd Hole 520 yard par 5



Hogan on this dogleg right, with bunkers guarding the corners, hit a fade (flight left-to-right) just short of one sand bunker. In good position to reach this now wet par 5.





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Snead, aiming directly at the fairway bunkers, bombed his drive some 275 yards over the bunkers as the rain began to fall heavier with lightning cracking in foreground. Play was then suspended for a while.

note: those are wood-wood clubheads and balls NOT NEARLY AS HOT AS TODAY! Under those wet conditions and equipment used, that was a blast of a drive.


3rd hole second shot

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After a rain delay, Hogan with a side hill lie, 25 mph wind to his back, elected to hit a 4 wood. He had to aim right due to the stance. He then bounced the ball on the green for an eagle putt.


3rd hole second shot

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After his long drive, Snead eased up on a 4 iron and pulled the shot which bounced nicely on the green some 35 feet (and short) from the hole. He was also putting for eagle 3 on this par 5 hole.



  5th hole
















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Since Hogan hit all 14 fairways and 18 greens during this match, with a little better putting could have shot a really low score. Much is made about Ben playing a fade but on the first hole he hit a draw driver and a draw iron into the green. He basically played whatever the hole called for.
















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This match pitted Snead's colorful straw hat against Hogan's plain white cap. Snead's folksy talkativeness against Hogan's intense taciturnity. Snead's long, lyrical swing against Hogan's taut, mechanical action.
















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  7th hole

With one of the most admired and natural golf swings the game has ever seen and an easy-going attitude to match, Sam Snead is undoubtedly one of golf's greatest players.

















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