Ben Hogan and Byron Nelson both grew up in Fort Worth, Texas, and caddied at Glen Garden Country Club.
The two golf legends, however, were never particularly close.
Hogan liked to keep to himself and was more of a loner as he struggled in his early years. Nelson enjoyed success at an early age, and that allowed him to reduce his schedule and spend time on his ranch.
The two men are forever linked at Augusta National and the Masters, and in a special place.
Bobby Jones and Clifford Roberts, co-founders of the club and tournament, wanted to honor the men who had each won the Masters twice and had contributed so much to the game.
On April 2, 1958, a special ceremony was held on the eve of the tournament. The Hogan Bridge, which crosses Rae’s Creek at the 12th green, and the Nelson Bridge, which crosses the creek in front of the 12th tee, were dedicated.
“We’ve tried to dedicate these bridges to two men who have meant as much to this tournament as any two men ever have,” Jones said.
The Hogan Bridge honors Hogan’s score of 274 in 1953, then the lowest 72-hole score in Masters history.
Hogan started his 1953 major campaign in style at Augusta National. After an opening 70, he fired rounds of 69, 66 and 69 to easily lap the field and win by five shots over Ed Oliver.
His 274 total smashed the 72-hole record by five shots, and that record stood for 12 years. He added victories at the U.S. Open and British Open later that year. Hogan’s “Triple Crown” season of 1953 remains one of golf’s finest years.
The Nelson Bridge pays tribute to Nelson’s charge in 1937. He made up six strokes at Nos. 12 and 13 with a birdie and eagle. Ralph Guldahl, meanwhile, played the two holes in 5-6, and Nelson cruised to his first major victory.
“Lord Byron” would go on to serve many roles at Augusta, including several years of being paired with the 54-hole leader in the final round and serving as host of the Champions Dinner. He also was an honorary starter for two decades.
Hogan and Nelson went head-to-head at the Masters only once, but it was a doozy. In 1942, the two Texans met in an 18-hole playoff.
Nelson won his second Masters title, edging Hogan 69-70. Nelson’s winning 3-under-par round came after early morning sickness from a nervous stomach.
Nelson said the round was “some of the finest golf I’ve ever played."