Golfing legend Ben Hogan went to his grave believing he had won a record five US Open titles. The USGA says otherwise, and the controversy has endured for over 75 years.
In 1942, the United States Golf Association (USGA) cancelled its four golf tournaments for the duration of World War II. But then it did something different in only that year—it sponsored the Hale-America National Open on the same weekend as the cancelled US Open. The great Ben Hogan won that tournament and went to his grave believing he had therefore won a record five US Open titles.
In The Open Question, Peter May turns his attention to this controversial, colorful Hale-America National Open of 1942. While providing an in-depth look at the tournament itself, May champions Hogan’s claim to five US Open titles and debunks some questionable assertions that the tournament was not worthy of a US Open. Set against the backdrop of World War II, May also tells the stories of other professional golfers in the tournament and the impact of the war on all their lives.
The USGA has never recognized the Hale-America Tournament as an official US Open and remains firm in its stance. It was a decision that bothered Ben Hogan for the rest of his life. The Open Question shows how dominant Ben Hogan was against some of the biggest names in golf, and reveals why he deserves to be recognized as a five-time US Open winner.
Peter May has been covering and writing about sports for more than three decades, for the last several years as a Boston-based correspondent for The New York Times. At the Boston Globe, he specialized in covering the Boston Celtics and the NBA, earning numerous writing awards. He also covered three Super Bowls, two World Series, the 2004 Olympics, and a number of international basketball tournaments. He is a senior lecturer in journalism at Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts. May is the author of four books: The Big Three: Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and Robert Parish: The Best Frontcourt in the History of Basketball ; The Last Banner: The Story of the 1985-86 Boston Celtics, the NBA’s Greatest Team of All-Time; Won’t Back Down: Teams, Dreams and Family with Kim Mulkey , and Top of The World: The Inside Story of the Boston Celtics’ 2007-08 Championship Season .
Part One – Eleven Months
Chapter 1: May 1941-January 1942: The USGA Giveth and the USGA Taketh Away
Chapter 2: April-June 1942: Augusta, Seaview and East Lake
Part Two – Four Days
Chapter 3: The Hale-America Round One, June 18: Ridgemoor and Mr. Icicle
Chapter 4: The Hale-America Round Two, June 19: Mr. 62
Chapter 5: The Hale-America Round Three, June 20: Good Times Jimmy
Chapter 6: The Hale-America Round Four, June 21: Ben and Bobby One Last Time
Part Three – Controversy and Aftermath
Chapter 7: Controversy: When Is a US Open Not a US Open?
Chapter 8: October 1945 to August 1946: The End of Hostilities and the Return of the US Open
Chapter 9: The Back Nine: The Foursome on the Back Nine of Life
Epilogue: Preserving the Legacy: The Hoganistas
Avid fans of any combination of Ben Hogan, the U.S. Open or World War II history in will want to clear their reading list for The Open Question.
If you ever wish to start a barroom brawl at a Texas golf clubhouse, just bring up the Hale America National Open and hold on to your 10-gallon hat. Over the past eight decades many have made it a matter for serious discussion. Veteran sportswriter Peter May tackles the subject in his new book.... The book covers a great deal of territory and has the air of a thriller. The author gives readers the chance to develop their own conclusions and be part of the continuing controversy, which may never be settled to anyone's satisfaction. But remember: Hold onto your hat!
Peter May offers an in-depth look at the 1942 Hale-America National Open while also presenting a compelling case to correct one of the game's great wrongs by awarding Hogan a fifth US Open championship, giving him his rightful title as the greatest U.S. Open winner of all time.
Peter May's very thorough research is just what was needed to shed light on one of golf's historical controversies, while compellingly telling the stories of players whose lives and careers were affected by the onset of World War II.
When is a US Open not a US Open? When the USGA says it's not, even though it sure quacked like a golfing duck. Peter May takes us through the fascinating saga of Ben Hogan and the 1942 Hale-America National Open, which Hogan won and which had every trapping of a US Open, including a medal that looked suspiciously like the ones given to all US Open winners. Along the way, you'll meet all the key golfers of that era, including an un-retired Bobby Jones. There is plenty here for any golf fan, or sports fan, for that matter.
If you ever wanted to get the scoop on the true story of Ben Hogan's fifth US Open, or Bobby Jones' service in World War II, you would do well to have Peter May conduct the investigation. His efforts are thorough and exhaustive as he turns over every stone and his skill at communicating with the well-crafted phrase is both entertaining and illuminating.
June/July 2021: The Open Question was given a nice write-up in Golf Oklahoma’s June/July 2021 edition.
June 2021: The World Golf Hall of Fame named the book their Book of the Month