What Ben Hogan Said When He Witnessed a Shank

It happened when Hogan was mentoring LPGA golfer Kris Tschetter

Ben Hogan hitting balls at the 1959 Masters
Ben Hogan. Transcendental Graphics/Getty Images

Everyone knows that Ben Hogan is one of - perhaps the - greatest ballstrikers in golf history. But did he ever shank it? Just once, maybe? Did Hogan even know what a shank is?

Maybe not, based on a incident relayed in the book Mr. Hogan, The Man I Knew, by longtime LPGA Tour player Kris Tschetter. The book, published in 2011, is a great read, a moving, poignant and very insightful look at Hogan, revealing of a different side of the legend, a side rarely seen before.

Tschetter got to know Hogan first as a college golfer who practiced daily at Shady Oaks Country Club in Fort Worth, Hogan's home club. They developed a close friendship, and that's what the book is about. Although Hogan served as Tschetter's golf instructor, and there is plenty in the book about Hogan's teaching, the focus is on the friendship.

But what about the shanks? Late in the book, after Tschetter has spent a few years on the LPGA Tour, she writes of developing a case of the shanks:

The truth is that once I even shanked it on national TV. I hit the ball and said, "Oh my God, I shanked it!"
Mary Bryan was the commentator following our group, and she said, "Uh-oh, she said the S-word."

The routine at Shady Oaks was that Tschetter would show up, walk past the windows of the men's grill and wave at Hogan, then head to her favorite practice spot. Hogan would soon come out to watch her swing and offer feedback.

After the shanks showed up, however, Tschetter - for the only time, she believes - sought out Hogan upon her arrival at Shady Oaks and specifically requested his help. From the book:

"I see your scores haven't been so good. What's been the problem?" he (Hogan) asked.
"Mr. Hogan," I began, "I really need you to come out today. I need some help. I've got the shanks."
"The what?" he asked.
"The shanks." He was looking at me as if he didn't understand. "The shanks. You know, when you hit it off the hosel and it goes dead right."
"Hmm," was all he said. "I'll change my clothes and be out in a few minutes."

Tschetter headed to her practice spot, and Hogan joined her. She hit a few balls, and it didn't take long for the shanks to appear. She wrote:

Then I hit it. The dreaded low right shot.
"Oh, good God," he said. It was like he had never seen a shank before, or hit one for that matter!

Thirty minutes later, Hogan had cured Tschetter of the shanks. (Downswing too far from the inside, weight out on her toes, getting her out of position and aiming the hosel at the ball.) But it's Hogan's reaction to seeing a shank that I love.

Oh, good God. If ever there was an appropriate reaction to a shank, that's it.