David Barrett has been a professional golf writer for more than thirty years. For eighteen years, Barrett served as an editor at Golf magazine, where he wrote the popular “Within the Rules” column. He presently serves as editor-in-chief of Fairway Living magazine. He is a regular contributor to GolfObserver.com and the author of several previous books on golf including Golfing with Dad and Miracle at Merion, which was awarded the USGA’s 2010 Herbert Warren Wind Award as the year’s best book on golf.
Miracle at Merion: The Inspiring Story of Ben Hogan's Amazing Comeback and Victory at the 1950 U.S. Openby David Barrett
Legendary sportswriter Red Smith characterized Ben Hogan’s comeback from a near-fatal automobile crash in February 1949 as “the most remarkable feat in the history of sports.” Nearly sixty years later, that statement still rings true. The crowning moment of Hogan’s comeback was his dramatic victory in the 1950 U.S. Open at Merion Golf Club… See more details below
Legendary sportswriter Red Smith characterized Ben Hogan’s comeback from a near-fatal automobile crash in February 1949 as “the most remarkable feat in the history of sports.” Nearly sixty years later, that statement still rings true. The crowning moment of Hogan’s comeback was his dramatic victory in the 1950 U.S. Open at Merion Golf Club near Philadelphia, where his battered legs could barely carry him on the 36-hole final day. Miracle at Merion tells the stirring story of Hogan’s triumph over adversity—the rarely-performed surgery that saved his life, the months of rehabilitation when he couldn’t even hit a golf ball, his stunning return to competition at the Los Angeles Open, and, finally, the U.S. Open triumph that returned him to the pinnacle of the game.
While Hogan was severely injured in the accident, fracturing his pelvis, collarbone, rib, and ankle, his life wasn’t in danger until two weeks later when blood clots developed in his leg, necessitating emergency surgery. Hogan didn’t leave the hospital until April and didn’t even touch a golf club until August. It wasn’t until November, more than nine months after the accident, that he was able to go to the range to hit balls. Hogan’s performance at the Los Angeles Open in early January convinced Hollywood to make a movie out of his life and comeback (Follow the Sun, starring Glenn Ford). Five months later, Hogan completed his miraculous comeback by winning the U.S. Open in a riveting 36-hole playoff against Lloyd Mangrum and George Fazio, permanently cementing his legacy as one of the sport’s true legends.
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The world watched agog as Tiger Woods won the 2008 U.S. Open on the 91st hole while struggling with a fractured left knee. In the excitement of the moment, little was said about a similar feat of physical endurance and mental strength by Ben Hogan in his epic victory at the 1950 U.S. Open, otherwise known as The Miracle at Merion. Golf writer David Barrett, who has covered 25 U.S. Opens, presents a thorough and rounded account of Ben Hogan's comeback from a near-fatal car wreck to win the most coveted trophy in the sport. The astonishing story of how Hogan survived a head-on crash with a speeding Greyhound bus, fought through months of life-threatening surgery and painful therapy, then returned to the PGA Tour a year later has been told many times, but Barrett gives the reader both a wide view of the events and people surrounding the story as well as an incisive account of how Hogan the individual was changed by it. Of particular interest are Barrett's portraits of Hogan's compatriots. Sam Snead, Byron Nelson, and Cary Middlecoff are among the giants of the game with whom Hogan competed. Barrett shows the reader how their careers meshed with Hogan's and, even more importantly, he reveals them not just as golfers but as human beings--just like he does Ben Hogan. The book also gives a great look at the PGA Tour of Hogan's day. About the only thing today's tour has in common with Hogan's is the use of a little white ball and a four-and-a-quarter-inch hole. Among the many differences, of course, is money. Tiger Woods earned $1,350,000 for his victory in 2008; Hogan's check in 1950 was for a whopping $4,000. The Miracle at Merion brings both Hogan's historic win and the professional game of the era vibrantly to life. Barrett is first and foremost a journalist, which gives this book a gravitas lacking in many other books on the sport. He not only made extensive use of the USGA archives in Far Hills, NJ, but visited Merion Golf Club itself and conferred at length with the club historian John Capers and archivist Wayne Morrison. He also interviewed many people who were on hand at Merion in 1950 and checked and double-checked media reports of the day--finding several interesting contradictions. The result is a book that deserves a place in the bookcase of any serious student of golf.