by Jeff Skinner
The USGA has announced that David Barrett’s “Miracle at Merion” has won their Herbert Warren Wind Award for golf literature. “Miracle at Merion” chronicles Ben Hogan’s comeback from his near fatal car crash to win the 1950 U.S Open at Merion Country Club.
The USGA started the award in 1987 and “the award recognizes and honors outstanding contributions to golf literature while attempting to broaden the public’s interest in, and knowledge of, the game of golf.”
Believe it or not I just finished the book yesterday and in my humble opinion The USGA got it right. It’s a wonderful book that details one of the most enigmatic figures in golf. Hogan rarely shared intimate facts of his life with anyone but through what must have been a great amount of painstaking research, Barrett was able to reveal the human side of Hogan.
Barrett takes plenty of time to give the reader the background surrounding Hogan, his accident and his miraculous comeback. He also was able to capture the characters and personalities that impacted Hogan’s life and walked the fairways with The Hawk.
This isn’t a Hogan biography, but rather an inside and up close trip with Hogan from his hospital bed to Merion. Hogan’s win at Merion is a seminal moment in golf history and Barrett is able to put you right there as Hogan strikes that iconic pose as he watches his famous one iron land on the eighteenth green. The photo that graces the cover of the book is one of the most well known photos in sport. But few realize that Hogan did not win The Open that day. He used that shot to par the eighteenth hole and force an eighteen hole playoff the next day. After walking 36 holes on Saturday, on legs that could barely survive a short walk around the block, Hogan found the strength to play another 18 on Sunday and the rest as they say is history.
“Miracle at Merion” is a fact filled, interesting account of one of the most unlikely victories in sports history. David Barrett does a superb job in telling us that story.