In 1977, at age 65, Ben Hogan made one final trip to Florida to enjoy time with his good friend George Coleman and to play a little bit of golf at Seminole where for many years he had loved to practice in the winter months leading up to the Masters. George Coleman had a home on the water and, according to James Dodson’s biography Ben Hogan: An American Life Coleman and Hogan often hit balls into the ocean from that backyard. At the time of what appears to be Hogans’ last trip to Seminole Coleman had just purchased a new video camera and wanted to test it out. This led to one of the most important pieces of film ever made of Ben Hogan – The Coleman Video. Magnum184 on the Golfwrx Thread pointed out to me that you can actually see the balls land if you pay attention.
The first time I viewed this film it was for me a strange and profoundly emotional event. Here was Hogan interacting with his friends, showing them details about his technique and still swinging the club beautifully at that age. He’s even wearing George Coleman’s golf shoes. It is so pure and magical. If you are not moved by it you need to learn more about Ben Hogan, about friendship and about golf.
In the slow motion sequences that Hogan demonstrates, (what had been demonstrated in past Hogan clinics as The Concentration Drill) we see Hogan illustrating what he felt during the swing as opposed to what he actually did. This demonstration is so important because it shows how clearly Hogan understood that no matter what action he performed with the body the hands could always keep up.
Watching the video we feel guilty and we should because it is clear that this demonstration is meant solely for the eyes of his friends. When Dawn Coleman became aware of the video making it onto the Internet she said “ I’m so glad both George and Ben were gone by then. Ben would have been heartbroken to know strangers were looking at that.” The affection between Hogan and his friends is so pure. I have thought long about it and I have decided with still some reservation to reference this video here, for a few reasons. First because rightly or wrongly it is now out there and as they say “You cannot unring a bell”. Second because there is so much to learn from it about golf and more importantly about life and respect and affection among friends. When the woman (Mrs. Coleman I would guess) says “Oh Ben” as he finishes the concentration drill it is so clear what great friends these people are and that were it not for that friendship and trust between them this last glimpse of Hogan and his “swing eternal” would never have existed. It also shows us a part of Hogan and his generous nature that we otherwise would never have seen. Enjoy and understand what a kind and generous man Mr. Hogan was.