Hogan dropped out of Central High School (R.L. Paschal High School) during the final semester of his senior year, and became a professional golfer at the Texas Open in San Antonio in late January 1930, more than six months shy of his 18th birthday. Hogan met Valerie Fox in Sunday school in Fort Worth in the mid-1920s, and they reacquainted in 1932 when he landed a low-paying club pro job in Cleburne, where her family had moved. They married in April 1935 at her parents' home.
His early years as a pro were very difficult, and Hogan went broke more than once. He did not win his first pro tournament as an individual until March 1940, when he won three consecutive tournaments in North Carolina. Although it took a decade to secure his first victory, Hogan's wife Valerie believed in him, and this helped see him through the tough years when he battled a hook, which he later cured.
Despite finishing 13th on the money list in 1938, Hogan had to take an assistant pro job at Century Country Club in Purchase, New York. He worked at Century as an assistant and then as the head pro until 1941, when he took the head pro job at Hershey Country Club in Hershey, Pennsylvania.
Between the years of 1938 through 1959, Hogan won 63 professional golf tournaments despite his career being interrupted in its prime by World War II and a near-fatal car accident. Hogan served in the U.S. Army Air Forces from March 1943 to June 1945, becoming a utility pilot with the rank of lieutenant stationed at Fort Worth, Texas.
Hogan and his wife, Valerie, survived a head-on collision with a Greyhound bus on a fog-shrouded bridge, early in the morning, east of Van Horn, Texas on February 2, 1949. Hogan threw himself across Valerie in order to protect her, and would have been killed had he not done so, as the steering column punctured the driver's seat.