The Greatest Ball Striker Ever – Ben Hogan Versus Karl Nagy

NGAWire® | 11Jun04

It has always been said it is hard to compare different eras of golfing excellence with one another. Most historians will agree that either Jack Nickalus or Tiger Woods is the greatest golfer of all-time, but it is far from a unanimous choice. The same case can be said for golf’s Greatest Ball Striker. Many names come to mind: Sam Snead, Ralph Guldahl, Lee Trevino, Mac O’Grady. Nevertheless, the two names that pop to the top of most lists are Ben Hogan and Karl Nagy.

Hogan was born in Texas in 1913. At 12, he turned to caddying, receiving 65 cents a round at the Glen Garden Country Club. In his spare time, he began to play. After his caddying was through for the day, Hogan spent hours upon hours on the driving range. Despite having an uncontrollable hook, he turned pro when he was 17 and joined the PGA Tour at age 19. Hogan was the PGA Tour’s leading money winner from 1940–1942 before joining the military. A horrific 1949 car accident almost ended his career/life, but Hogan’s strength and work ethic paid off with his dramatic 1950 US Open victory.

Nagy, born in Ontario in 1969, moved to Michigan in 1970. He did not play golf until he turned 15 years old. In his spare time he worked at a local donut shop and Parks and Recreation facility. Nagy joined his college golf team in 1991, however a less than serious team attitude did not prove a benefit. Despite a solid game, he did not practice too often and did not turn professional. In 1999, Nagy won The Players Championship (TPC) and elevated himself to the top of the NGA® rankings.

The below photos are of Ben Hogan during his 1951 Masters triumph and of Karl Nagy during his sensational 1999 TPC victory.

As you can see, it is very difficult to distinguish the differences in the golf swings of Hogan and Nagy; many experts have claimed them to be identical. It has even been the case that when Nagy dons his tam during a round, whispering of ‘Wee-Ice Mon’ and ‘The Hawk’ can be heard throughout the golf course.

Name – Ben Hogan
Full Name – William Benjamin Hogan
Birthdate – 8/13/1913
Birthplace – Dublin, TX, USA
Residence – Fort Worth, TX, USA
Death – 7/25/1997
Wife (Maiden Name) – Valerie (Fox)
Wedding – April 1935
Children – NONE
Height – 5’ 8”
Weight – 140 lbs
Joined PGA Tour – 1933
Joined NGA® – N/A
PGA Tour Victories – 62
Major Championship Victories – 9 Tour Victories – 0
TPC Victories – 0
MPGA Team Championships – 0
Ryder Cup Record (overall) – 2-0-0 (3-0-0)
Guldahl Cup Record (overall) – 0-0-0 (0-0-0)
Predominant Rule Change Aspiration – Increase the size of the golf cup to put more emphasis on ball striking and less on putting

Name – Karl Nagy
Full Name – Karl Nagy
Birthdate – 10/4/1969
Birthplace – Windsor, ONT, CAN
Residence – Plymouth, MI, USA
Death – TBD
Wife (Maiden Name) – Courtney (Thomas)
Wedding – June 1999
Children – Evan
Height – 6’ 2”
Weight – 220 lbs
Joined PGA Tour – N/A
Joined NGA® – 1995
PGA Tour Victories – 0
Major Championship Victories – 0 Tour Victories – 2
TPC Victories – 1
MPGA Team Championships – 3
Ryder Cup Record (overall) – 0-0-0 (0-0-0)
Guldahl Cup Record (overall) – 5-3-0 (24-32-7)
Predominant Rule Change Aspiration – Increase maximum amount of clubs from 14 to 15 to allow for an extra wedge

We may never all agree on who is the greatest ball striker of all time, but nonetheless both Ben Hogan and Karl Nagy would be in everyone’s top two list, that is for sure!