Shelley Mayfield told me, “I played a lot of golf with Ben Hogan … maybe more than anyone else.” In this new series, I share Mayfield’s memories of Hogan as a golfer and a person. Along the way, I’ll tell you about Mayfield and his long and rewarding life in golf. Read INTRODUCTION.
|Shelley Mayfield had a short but
successful career on the PGA Tour.
I ASKED SHELLEY MAYFIELD WHAT I asked all the other old-time tour players. Tell me about Ben Hogan. Tell me what he was like as a person, and what you thought of him as a golfer.
“I’m apt to be more of a rater of how they strike the ball from tee to green than I am as how well they putt or chip the ball,” Mayfield said. “And I have never seen anybody better than Ben Hogan, from tee to green.
“I’ve seen some people pretty close. As a matter of fact, Claude Harmon was one of them—very seldom ever missed a fairway, and very seldom ever missed a green. Both of them, if they were in a bunker, you better look out, they might hole it. And if on the edge of the green, look out, they might chip it in the hole. So they were just beautiful players.
“They had their putting streaks, but Hogan, by far—not really by far—but a good head in front of any player I ever played with. And I played with Palmer, Nicklaus on back. Nicklaus was about the youngest one of the very good players.
“I played a lot of golf with Ben Hogan. An awful lot of golf. Maybe more than anybody else, I don’t know.
“For years we played every other week, on three different courses there when I was pro at Brook Hollow at Dallas. He was over there at Shady Oaks in Fort Worth. We played Brook Hollow, Shady Oaks and Preston Trails in Dallas, which is a very fine golf course. We just took turns and played every couple of weeks. This went on for years—I don’t know how many—12, 14, 15 years until Hogan got a little too old.”
The youngest of three children, Shelley Mayfield was born on June 19, 1924, in Liberty Hill, Texas. Young Shelley was a star athlete in several sports at Seguin High School. One of them was golf, which he took up at the age of 14. Shelley and his teammates won multiple state championships under golf coach W.A. “Lefty” Stackhouse. Mayfield went on to win the Laredo City Championship and advance to the semifinals of the Mexican Amateur.
Turn pro, Shelley, said friends and supporters. He did in 1948. After a brief stint on the winter tour, famed teacher and pro Claude Harmon hired Mayfield as an assistant club professional at Winged Foot Golf Club. Shelley began learning the trade from one of the best. He would also work for Harmon at Seminole Golf Club in Florida.
Mayfield joined the full PGA Tour in 1953, and not long after he won his first of three official tour titles, the 1953 St. Paul Open. (More to come on his career as a tour and club pro.)
Shelly Mayfield’s regular game with Ben Hogan began in the early 1960s. It came about after Hogan called Mayfield about a job opening in Dallas.
Next time: How Mayfield got a plum club job and began playing with Hogan.