FORT WORTH — Colonial Country Club is currently the home to the Crowne Plaza Invitational, but to golf historians, it's known as "Hogan's Alley."
Ben Hogan won the tournament five times, and — at one time or another — held every record imaginable at the course.
His life story was the focus of a movie called Follow the Sun, a 1951 release starring Glenn Ford and Anne Baxter.
“It was supposed to be the story of his life, and it kind of missed,” said Hogan’s niece, Jacqueline Hogan Towery. She should know; she saw Hogan play many of his finest rounds. She also remembers her first Colonial.
"The first year it was played, I was very young," Towery said. "Since my daddy and my uncle had played golf all their life, it was just part of our family." Her uncle, Ben Hogan, won the first of five tournaments at Colonial. Rarely has a member of the Hogan family talked about their family history.
“We're all very private,” Towery said. "It's the first time I've ever been out and said anything about the family."
What prompted this interview started with a book that her late husband Robert started to compile about the family. After he died, she finished the project, but it became more than just a family book and included history of Fort Worth.
"There had been a lot of things authors just made it sound really good, and they didn't check their facts," Towery said. "I said, there are three things: If we say 'I'm not sure,' 'I don't think so,' or 'we can't prove it,' it’s not going into this book.”
So the book — The Brothers Hogan — became a project to clarify and correct stories about the Hogan family, like the suicide of her grandfather.
The Brothers Hogan is being published by TCU Press. Early copies were in the Colonial Country Club pro shop this weekend, and will be available to the public in June.
“Sports writers wrote and said that Ben had witnessed the suicide, and that is why he was so into himself, didn't want to talk to people, and that's what happened to him," Towery said. "Actually, the true side of that story is, my father is the one who witnessed it."
Her father, Royal Hogan, was Ben Hogan's brother, an outstanding amateur golfer himself, winning the Colonial Club championship and the city championship four times each.
“In the beginning, he really was a better golfer than Ben was,” Towery said. “He was just a natural. He took it up naturally. Ben always said he had to dig it out of the first."
There was one lesson she learned early on: Never talk to her Uncle Ben on the golf course. But once he did talk to her on 14th fairway at Colonial.
“As he went past me he said, 'Well Jacqueline, how are you today?' I was petrified!” she said. “Oh my goodness, because I wasn't supposed to talk to him, and I said, 'I'm just fine, Uncle Ben,' and kept right on walking.”
A car accident in 1949 nearly took Ben Hogan's life, but not his determination.
He won the U.S. Open a second time the very next year, and four years later he was given a ticker tape parade in New York after he won the British Open.
“He believed until the day he died that he won the U.S. Open five times,” Towery said. “That's because the first time he won it, it was known as 'Hail America,' not the 'U.S. Open.'"
His niece will always remember her Uncle Ben as a very kind man.
“He said so many things were written that were incorrect, he said I just got tired of fooling with it,” Towery said. “He loved his family very much. He took care of his mother. He and his brother were extremely close all during life. I just like to remember sitting next to him at Shady Oaks when he would reach over, my hand would be here, and he'd put his hand on top of it and say, 'I love you,' and that's how I’d like to remember him."