How Right Was Ben Hogan?
I'm an unabashed huge fan of Ben Hogan. My father had played golf with Mr. Hogan before the war, and became a huge fan himself. I inherited that, and always felt a connection to Mr. Hogan. His "Five Lessons" were originally published as a series of articles in Sports Illustrated, the first issue of the series being March 11, 1952, my fifth birthday. My father insisted that was not a coincidence.

In my youth, we made one trip to Colonial so that I could see Mr. Hogan hit golf balls in person, and it made an indelible impact on me. I grew up studying Power Golf and Five Lessons, and tried to learn the game "his" way. I would encourage any serious golfer to study the many videos on YouTube to see what I believe is the most efficient and effective golf swing in history.

Being a student of Mr. Hogan's has worked very well for me. I've always been a pretty consistent ball striker and believe Mr. Hogan had dissected the swing down into its most basic analysis. And I concur with his idea that anyone of reasonable physical skills can learn to strike a golf ball pretty darn consistently if they will master these basics. What I also find is that if my swing gets "funky" and my ball-striking begins to suffer, I can go back to those videos and "get right" pretty darn quickly.

So, here's my question for all of you? Do you think the way we play the game and the "modern" swing is far from what Mr. Hogan mastered? Is there a better way to strike a golf ball than he discovered through countless hours of practice? Remember, he did not have the luxury of video, launch monitors and such . . . he had to allow the golf ball alone to be the gauge of how close he was getting to his goal of perfection.

I would like to know your thoughts on Mr. Hogan's approach and his detailed description of the golf swing as presented in Five Lessons.

And if any of you are looking to make a quantum leap in your tee-to-green game this year, I highly recommend spending these early cold months diving deep into Five Lessons to rebuild your basics, starting with the way you hold the golf club. It all starts there and you rarely see a bad golfer with a good grip.
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[ comments ]
joe jones says:
There are more proponents of Hogan's swing on the tour now then ever before. His conclusions are spot on. Listen to some of the greatest of today,s guru's and you will hear them constantly refer to something being in the Hogan style or Hoganesque. We must remember that instructors are always trying to put their own spin on things but it is very hard to improve on perfection. Even if you don't buy into everything he said it would be very helpful to anyone to pay attention to his basic premises. The list of today's pro's that give credit to Hogan grows every day.
Torleif Sorenson says:
I'm with Joe Jones here; part of my winter reading will include Hogan's Five Lessons.
jasonfish11 says:
I think I'm going to tell my wife I want that book for my birthday. Given my belief that ball striking is more important than putting you would assume I'm a huge hogan fan, but I really dont know much about him other than he is a great ball striker and hated putting.
jasonfish11 says:
Who do we get to congratulate for winning the wedges?
jrbizzle says:
My Hogan story...when I was a teenage golfer, a friend and I were being "caught" from behind by an older gentleman walking and playing briskly. It was a course that has many parallel fairways so we could see him gaining on us. We eventually waited for him to play through.

He was well into his 60s, and came up to the tee box with two drivers - one of them an oversize head when those were not yet popular. He asked if he could hit two tee shots (one with each driver), and we said okay, and he piped both right down the middle, the oversize driver slightly farther. He made the comment he might just have to buy it, and we both complimented his quality of play. He thanked us, and started to walk away. He then stopped, turned and said - "boys, do yourself a favor and get yourself a copy of Hogan's Five Lessons. 19 pages on the grip...THE GRIP!" He then walked away.

For the rest of that summer, my friends and I would every once in a while just shout out "19 pages on THE GRIP!" when we would hit good shots.
jrbizzle says:
Years later, my game was in a bad funk, and I did get that old Hogan book. I read and re-read the section on a proper grip. After enough practice, my grip just felt right. And from that point on, I felt as long as my grip was right, it gave me the ability to tell whatever else was wrong. Anytime I get into a funk nowadays, I always go back to Hogan, and his nineteen pages on the grip. And everything else starts to fall back into place yet again.
DougE says:
Jrbizzle: I thought (was hoping) you were going to say,......"years later, we found out that golfer was Ben Hogan." Still a good lesson.
Duke of Hazards says:
In a world of terrible explainers, Hogan is explicit and detailed in his writing. Everything is deliberately worded and there's no fluff or clutter. Ravielli's illustrations are excellent. I've read portions of 5 Lessons several times and have gone back to it repeatedly.

There's a lot of stuff there and likely impossible to try and implement everything all at once, however I've noticed that occasionally, I'll stumble across a swing feel on the range, and it recalls something I've read in 5 Lessons, the most recent being his mention of feeling live tension in the calf muscles at address. It helps to have that expert affirmation that what you're feeling is 'correct'.

+1 on importance of grip, btw.
GolfSmith7 says:
I took the plunge and bought the kindle version so I can begin to read it immediately.
Matt McGee says:
Oh, yeah? Well, if Hogan's such a good teacher, then why am I such a crappy golfer?

Just kidding. I re-read 5-lessons on a fairly regular basis. It's not Hogan's fault I'm a crappy golfer.
legitimatebeef says:
Ben Hogan, such a unique figure in sports. Even if he never wrote a book or lesson, the feats on the course and the major championship glory alone make him legend. But he also has the legacy as a god of the golf swing, to pros and amateurs alike even now over sixty years past his heyday. Lots of people give sound advice, but when do you ever get it straight from the pen of a man with: possibly the greatest swing in the history of golf, a career Grand Slam, nine majors, sixty-some PGA wins. Who also labored in obscurity for years giving lessons to hackers as a journeyman club pro. His qualifications run deeper than anyone's. Hogan is possibly the most badass dude to ever play this ridiculous game, why would you not want to put all your trust in his swing lessons?
slimpks1850 says:
I don't have a comment on the article because I too would like to know who gets the congratulations for the new wedges.

(Also, JFish - congrats to your FSU for the national championship)!
Trip says:
If you are a Hogan fan, pick up "Ben Hogan: An American Life". Fascinating read. It's a from birth to death bio. His commitment to his game was unreal. My favorite story was how he had to learn to not aim for the flag because he would very often hit it, and his ball would wind up to far from the hole.
Trip says:
*too far from the hole.
DougE says:
Yeah Trip, I have that same problem....and I don't even have to hit the pin. Just too damn far from the hole. ;-)
Tazz says:
For those of you who don't know that much about Mr. Hogan this video part 1 and the second video part 2 will bring you a better understanding of the greatest ball striker to ever tee it up. I am sure most of you have seen this video about Mr. Hogan, but it never hurts to watch it again and again.
BentSwing says:
Why is "The Greatest Ball Striker" not synonymous with "The Greatest Player?" This Hogan-worship and conjuring up spiritual connections to the guy is soooo old hat. Read the book, take what you can from what he learned and improve on it.
Tazz says:
1950-1960 Majors:
Entered ... 22
Won ........ 6
Top ten ... 19

Pretty Darn great if you ask me
Tim Horan says:
I picked up a copy of Golf World the other day and they have started a series on the Golf Swing Evolution beginning post WW1. The conclusion I came to and the basis of my own analysis of how the golf swing has developed is that up until Hogan the golf swing had been developed to negate the whippy and inconsistent characteristics of hickory shafts. Hogan pioneered the lower body and leg resistance, keeping the leading heel down and maintaining flex in the other.
Hogan's swing would not have worked with hickory, way too much torque! If you look at Bobby Jones's set up and swing and to some extent Jack Nicklaus's swing they both lift the leading heel which reduces leverage and relies on a more conscious and mechanical transition. Anyone who was taught by an old pro in the fifties and sixties would have been taught to lift the heel even though steel shafts had been around for 30 years. Yes Hogan is relevant today and if anything he is more relevant today because the equipment has caught up with his vision.
kayagum says:
I keep going back to his first chapter on the grip. Between the left palm pad/left index finger illustration and the right middle/ring finger pressure point, they are the two checkpoints I will be using this season. Whenever I feel comfortable with that grip (which isn't always the case), the results are stellar.
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Terry Koehler is "The Wedge Guy" and President of SCOR Golf- The Short Game Company.

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