Once the new PGA TOUR logo moved into the mainstream in 1980, and ever since, there has always been one consistent question: Who is the player depicted in the logo’s silhouette.
Jack Nicklaus? Jerry Pate? Tom Weiskopf? Ben Hogan? Somebody else?
Deane Beman, the PGA TOUR’s commissioner from 1974 to 1994 and the man who made the decision to change the TOUR’s logo to its current iteration, has heard all the speculation and is emphatic when he says the logo is not Ben Hogan. Beman does admit that he used Hogan as his example when he drew the logo sketches to show the artists at the Walt Disney Company, who had agreed to make some prototypes. “The logo is not of Hogan, but he was something of a template,” Beman said.
About the logo’s design, Beman remembered, “There is no question in my mind as to what I said was that I want the name on it—PGA TOUR—and I want an active golf figure in it.” So what would the silhouette be doing? “I didn’t want him to be at address. That doesn’t denote motion. It has to be during the course of the swing or at the finish of the swing,” Beman added.
The TOUR’s marketing director at the time, Art West, knew that his namesake but not a relative, basketball legend Jerry West, was the player depicted in the NBA’s logo, and West sees similarities between the NBA’s logo in the PGA TOUR’s now 40-year-old corporate symbol. He, too, agrees with his former boss, that the golfer isn’t anybody in particular. West still laughs today when he thinks about all the guesses. “It seemed everybody thought it was Ben Hogan hitting his 1-iron at Merion. No, no. It’s nobody. It’s just a golfer.”
In other words, a no-name, non-identified silhouette of “just a golfer.”
Although after all these years, a well-known one, at that.