'Miracle at Merion' by David Bartlett

By: Dr. John Wagner


I wasn't sure I wanted to read another book on Ben Hogan as I have read about five already. Yet I decided to start this version to see how it went.

I got interested right away and enjoyed reading it. Bartlett does a nice recollection of not only covering Hogan's epic performance in the 1950 U.S. Open (which arrives in the book's final third), but discusses golf in the Depression.

Here are stories of really hungry players out to win and make a buck. They practiced, split winnings, traveled together, shared food and rooms and then tried to beat each other on the golf course. In one story, Hogan came out of his motel room with only $50 to his name and found his car on blocks with the tires gone. He had to win some money that day so he could buy tires and drive to the next tournament.

You can feel the emotion in this book. Hogan has a quote involving how hard it was to make a living and how grateful he was that he worked for it. This is quite a contrast to today's players, who have so much given to them (although they still have to perform).

Bartlett's insertion of all these historical tidbits makes for a fun read. Even his treatment of the 1950 U.S. Open (won by Hogan) is wonderfully written. This is not a rehash of Hogan's shots, but of all the other things going on at the time.

"Miracle at Merion," by David Bartlet, $24.95, Skyhorse Publishing, ISBN 978-1-61608-082-2

Dr. John Wagner has been a Seattle dentist for 37 years. He's been published in several dental journals as well as had several articles appear in the turf magazine for Pacific Northwest golf course superintendents. John has served as a guest lecturer at the University of Washington Business School for several years and as a guest lecturer for several dental societies. Dr. Wagner is the co-designer (with Steve Shea of the Berger Partnership) of a golf course in Japan that cost over $120 million and was built by Wadsworth Golf Construction. He's a Past President of the Washington State Golf Association and a Trustee of the Pacific Coast Golf Association. A 7 handicap, John is currently a member of the USGA Green Section and a Director of the WSGA.

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