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Concentration

“I had to learn to concentrate; to ignore the gallery and the other golfers and shut my mind against everything but my own game.”
-Ben Hogan

In the 1947 Masters, Hogan was paired with Claude Harmon, one of the most respected of all golf instructors. When they reached Augusta's devilish 12th hole, the pivotal point in Amen Corner, Harmon had the honor. He stepped up to the tricky, nerve-racking 155-yard shot and knocked it in the hole. It was the first hole-in-one in Masters history. The crowd erupted in admiration and delight, but Hogan didn't say a word. Not, “Great shot,” or, “Well done,” or even, “You lucky son-of-a-gun!” Then, when the noise gradually subsided, he fixed his steely glare on the green and played a fine shot a few feet past the cup. As they marched onto the green, the crowd gave Harmon a standing ovation, and the roar continued until he had removed his ball from the cup. Hogan's eyes never left his own ball as he paced around the cup to study his line. Finally he stroked a smooth putt right in the middle of the hole.

As the two players made their way to the 13th tee, Hogan turned to Harmon and finally spoke. “You know, Claude,” he said, “that's the first two I've ever made on that hole. What did you have?” Now, that's concentration!

Hogan was involved in a similar incident, this time playing in a threesome that included the long-hitting George Fazio. Fazio holed his second shot, a magnificent 7-iron, for an eagle on a very long par four. When they had completed the round, Hogan handed Fazio his score card to check. Fazio immediately noticed that Hogan had marked him down for a par four at the 9th hole instead of the eagle two he actually had. He pointed out the error to Hogan, who said, “George, the 9th is a 460 yard par four. How could you have had a two?” Only after the third player in the group had attested to George's amazing shot did Hogan corrected the score and sign the card.

Hogan was so focused during play, when close friends spoke to him from just a few feet away, wishing him luck or offering words of encouragement, he would have absolutely no recollection of any contact upon finishing his round.