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"I never won anything important as an amateur. I wasn't good enough. The closest I ever got was runner-up to Gus Moreland in the Southwestern Amateur in Shreveport, La. in 1928. I bummed a ride there. I never expected to get to the finals and when I did, I didn't have any money to pay my caddy so I hocked a watch I had won.
"After that I decided amateur golf was fine, but if I wanted to continue playing golf, I'd have to make some money. I didn't think I was good enough to win anything as a professional, but I figured if I played enough I might make some money.
"I turned pro when I was 17 and got a job as an assistant at Oakhurst. It's a housing project now. Being an assistant was just a title in those days. You were more or less of a clerk and you took care of the clubs. I was polishing clubs and handing them out to people. They thought I was nothing divided by nothing. Although I practiced day and night, I was so small a lot of people didn't have faith in me."
"They thought he could play well enough but his size was against him," Valerie said. "But he was hitting a long ball. The first year on the tour in Niagara Falls, he finished second to Jimmy Thomson in a driving contest."
DO WHAT YOU WANT TO DO
Hogan smiled at his wife. He had forgotten that.
"Back in those days people had some sort of feeling you had to be tremendous to play," he said. "After I got to be a pro, I saved up a little money, and along with some help from a fellow named Marvin Leonard, I went to the Coast in 1935. I made the tour, but in New Orleans I ran out of money and had to come back and work again. In the meantime I got married to Valerie. She knew nothing about golf and I hadn't told her I had the tour on my mind. Finally, I said, 'I have to go on tour at least for a year or two to find out if I'm good enough. It might take all our savings. I might never earn a nickel.'
" 'If that's what you want to do, do it,' she said.
"We started out in 1937. I'd earn $50 here and there, but we were always drawing out of the $1,400 we'd had when we started. One day we had only $86 left.
" 'What are we going to do?' I said to Valerie. 'The next tournament is Oakland. We can't make it on that.'