One of the few things that I enjoy about the off-season is the opportunity educate myself and expand my knowledge. Recently, through twitter, (follow me @BoggsPGA) I came across the book The Hershey Hurricane by Seamus McGee. The book tells the story of Henry Picard. Henry Picard (pronounced pea-COD) is one of the most accomplished (but less well-known) golfers in the history of the game. Before reading this biography I had never heard of Picard, which is shocking to me after completing the book. He played in every major golf tournament possible during the 1930’s and even into the early 1940’s; hell, he won most of them. He competed with and defeated players like Sam Snead, Walter Hagen, Bobby Jones, and Ben Hogan. Picard even had the opportunity to serve as a swing instructor for many great players including Hogan.
The book starts out telling the story of young Henry Picard and his start in golf came as a caddy in Plymouth, MA. Picard learned to play the game while working at a club in Plymouth, where he was later promoted to clubhouse steward. His dedication and work ethic afforded him the opportunity to become Head Golf Professional at Charleston Country Club. While in Charleston, Picard really developed his game. He began to seriously compete in and win many major golf tournaments. In spite of becoming a professional golfer, even Picard could not avoid the Great Depression. Luckily for Picard, some members at Charleston Country Club had the means to set up daily contests that would award him monetary gain based on his golf scores. This helped Picard maintain his focus and truly learn how to grind. With this support and by borrowing against his life insurance policy, Henry and his family survived the Depression. Later, Picard continued his successful golf career and accepted the Head Professional position at Hershey Country Club in Hershey, PA. This is where he earned the nickname “The Hershey Hurricane.” While in Hershey, Picard truly embraced being a touring professional and joined the Sunshine Golf Tour. He lived the hard tour life, traveling between the East and West coasts with groups of other players for very little money. Picard continued to excel and competed in the 1935 Ryder Cup. Assisting the US in winning the Ryder Cup was one of his many accomplishments as a pro golfer. A few of his more famous wins include the 1938 Masters Tournament and the 1939 PGA Championship, where he defeated Byron Nelson.
As the 1940’s rolled around Picard began to slow down his playing schedule and look for a new pursuit. He noticed a personal knack for golf instruction while being consulted by many greats for advice. During his own instruction sessions with Alex Morrison, Picard developed a system for teaching his students. WWII interrupted his pursuit in becoming a great golf instructor. Picard decided to work for McDonnell Douglas Aircraft Company in Oklahoma City to assist with the war effort. As the war drew to an end, Picard returned to PA for a short time before accepting an opportunity at Canterbury Golf Club in Beachwood, OH. Picard continued to spread his knowledge as a teacher. He had the opportunity to assist the great Ben Hogan with his swing. Picard relished the opportunity to teach so many players about the wonderful game that had treated him so well. In the latter part of his career, he worked at Seminole Golf Club. Picard was truly a great professional and had the opportunity to do great things for the game of golf.
The book is really a wonderful tale of a great golfer and teacher. I highly recommend taking the opportunity to read and share with friends. It is told like many of the great golf bios, explaining the story in an exciting and thrilling fashion. I was on the edge of my seat for many parts of the book. What I most enjoyed and am shocked about is that I had never heard of Henry Picard. The book will truly explain how under-appreciated this great man was. For more information on the book please visit http://www.henrypicardbook.com/. Follow the author on twitter @SeamusPicMcGee. The book won’t take you long to read. I read in a total of two sittings. Please, take the time and educate yourself about a true golf superstar Henry Picard.
See you on the lesson tee!!