Hogan’s Alley: Riviera, Portland and The Yellow Kid

Hogan's Alley - Ben Hogan At Riviera pictured the 18th at Riviera

Ben Hogan At Riviera – Hogan’s Alley. Photo of Hogan, Lloyd Mangrum and George Fazio putting on the eighteenth in the final round at Riviera.

Hogan’s Alley: Riviera, Portland and The Yellow Kid

Riviera Country Club, site of the Genesis Invitational, is one of several courses nicknamed Hogan’s Alley.

The story is that Rivieria was given the name because Hogan won there three times: The 1947 and 1948 Los Angeles Opens and the 1948 US Open. (He also won the LA Open in 1942, but at Hillcrest Country Club.)

Hogan's Alley - Ben Hogan At Riviera article reference to Hogan's alley
LA Times, January 1948

The earliest newspaper reference I can find to Riviera being nicknamed “Hogan’s Alley” is from January 1948 in the LA Times.

That article, by Charles Curtis, refers to “Hogan’s Alley (Riviera Country Club).” From the parenthetical, and the quote, it seems to me that, while some might have been aware of the nickname, the author assumed it was not widely known.

Sports reporters and columnists from those days made lots of off-the-cuff references without explaining the background. Ben Hogan was referred to as Bantam Ben; Red Grange as “The Galloping Ghost” — and so forth — without a word of clarity.

The Curtis article reads

After their unsuccessful attempt at beating the little man over Hogan’s Alley (Riviera Country Club), the golfing brigade moves on to the Monterey Peninsula tomorrow …

LA Times, Jan. 1948

“Little Man” in the article is one of those unexplained nicknames. You had to be in the know.

The phrase “Hogan’s Alley” is repeated in an LA Times article from June 1948.

A December 1948 column by Maxwell Stiles in the Mirror News (LA) also refers to Riviera as “Hogan’s Alley.”

Ben Hogan referred to Riviera as Hogan’s Alley in a column he wrote in August 1948.

Ben Hogan column, Ottawa Citizen, August 10, 1948

There are, however, other and earlier Hogan’s Alley courses.

In March 1941, multiple articles in The Richmond Times Dispatch used the phrase “Hogan’s alley” to describe the Biltmore Forest Course in Asheville, North Carolina in coverage of the Land of the Sky tournament.

Richmond Times Dispatch, March 1941

In August 1941, the Baltimore Sun referred to the Hershey Country Club as “Hogan’s Alley” after he won the Hershey Open.

Hogan was the professional at Hershey Country Club from 1941 – 1951. His first professional victory was at the club.

Hogan's Alley - Ben Hogan At Riviera Hogan's alley reference to portland

Numerous articles I found from 1946 – 1948 refer to the Portland Golf Club as “Hogan’s Alley.”

Hogan won the PGA Championship at Portland Golf Club in 1946 and the Portland Open in 1945. In 1947, he was the Captain of the Ryder Cup Team on the same course.

Learn more about the 1947 Ryder Cup and the man who saved the Ryder Cup competition.

The Sacramento Bee reported in 1948 that “The rolling Raleigh fairways were nicknamed Hogan’s Alley because blastin’ Benny set the open record on the course with a 72 hole total of 261 in 1945 and then led the American Ryder Cup Team to a decisive win over the British in 1947.”

Birmingham News (Ala), August 1947.

Hogan’s home course — the Colonial in Fort Worth — also is referred to as “Hogan’s Alley.”

Hogan won five titles there, including the inaugural Colonial Championship. Hogan’s last PGA TOUR title came at Colonial in 1959.

There are shrines to Hogan at Colonial Country Club.

The sixth hole at Carnoustie also is named Hogan’s Alley. Considered one of the toughest holes in golf, it measures 578 and plays into the wind with bunkers threatening drives, and out of bounds on the left. In his 1953 Open Championship win, Hogan famously played the hole with precision and aggression.

Prior to 1941, however, the term “Hogan’s Alley” only seems to be used to refer to city slums, a comic strip, or a police training facility (see the rest of the article, below).

The Origin Of The Term “Hogan’s Alley”

Lost to modern audiences is the origin of the name “Hogan’s Alley.” The nickname likely derives from a cartoon strip of the late 1890s. It was drawn by Richard Outcault. (The GolfBlogger is a huge fan of political cartoons, going back to his days in journalism school)

Hogan’s Alley — the cartoon — first appeared in The New York World (Joseph Pulitzer’s paper) and then in The New York Journal (William Randolph Hearst). It was enormously popular.

The Yellow Kid, who lived in Hogan’s Alley.

The cartoon — like later works such as Pogo, Doonesbury and Bloom County — was political and social commentary. It takes place on a New York slum street called “Hogan’s Alley.”

The most memorable character in the strip was “The Yellow Kid,” whose oversized nightshirt bore messages relevant to the day’s strip.

The Yellow Kid also is the origin of the term “Yellow Journalism.”

The strip established much of modern cartooning’s visual language, including word balloons.

The Yellow Kid’s real-life alley was located in New York’s lower east side, and was the site of the first Salvation Army Center. Later, “Hogan’s Alley” became a nickname for other Salvation Army centers.

Other places also had neighborhoods named Hogan’s Alley. In Vancouver, BC, the nickname was given to a neighborhood comprised of immigrants and African-Canadians. Newspapers in other places also use the term to refer to a neighborhood. It seems to have been a general nickname for an economically and socially distressed neighborhood.

In the 1920s, the name Hogan’s Alley was adopted by the Special Police School, a national weapons practice and training facility in Camp Perry, Ohio.

Hartford Current 1 January 1940, outlining the training schedule of local police at the Camp Perry facility.

I think it is possible that Hogan’s reputation for being an uncannily accurate golfer was related in people’s minds to the practice of straight shooting at the Camp Perry training center.

Today, the FBI’s current tactical training academy is officially known as Hogan’s Alley. That 10-acre property provides an urban setting — including a bank, post office, hotel, laundromat, and other buildings — for firearms and tactical training. The FBI’s official story is that it got the name from the Yellow Kid comic strip. It seems more likely to me that this was second hand, having gotten the name from the Camp Perry facility, which got the name from the comic.

Hogan’s Record At Riviera

A 1947 photo of Ben Hogan at Riviera from the Valley Times.

For what it’s worth, Riviera is near the top of my bucket list of courses to play. If there’s a member who would like to invite me, I’m more than willing to make the trip. Just thought I’d mention it.

In 1947, Hogan won the Los Angeles Open there with rounds of 70-66-72-72. His share of the purse was $2,000. Toney Penna took second with a 293.

The 1948 tournament saw Hogan shoot 68-70-70-67 for a four-stroke win over Lloyd Mangrum. The prize money again was $2,000.

At the US Open in 1948, Hogan’s cards showed 67-72-68-69. Finishing second was Jimmy Demaret, two strokes behind. Ben’s check again was $2,000.

Learn about the first Los Angeles Open, won by Harry Cooper.

Read about all of the Los Angeles Open – Genesis Invitational Winners.

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