QUOTES / HIGHLIGHTS / BE CAREFUL / HOGAN IN MOTION / FURTHER READING
Let’s start this article with some quotes from Ben Hogan that give us a fascinating insight into his character:
“I feel sorry for rich kids now. I really do. Because they are never going to have the opportunity I had. Because I knew tough things. And I had a tough day all my life and I can handle tough things. They can’t. And every day that I progressed was a joy to me and I recognized it every day. I don’t think I could’ve done what I’ve done if I hadn’t had the tough days to begin with.”
“Reverse every natural instinct and do the opposite of what you are inclined to do, and you will probably come very close to having a perfect golf swing.”
“Whether my schedule for the following day called for a tournament round or merely a trip to the practice tee, the prospect that there was going to be golf in it made me feel privileged and extremely happy, and I could not wait for the sun to come up the next morning so I could head to the course again.”
“The Modern Fundamentals of Golf” is recognised in golf instruction as one of the most important golf books ever written. It sold in huge numbers and became a self-help manual for a generation that idolized ‘The Hawk’. What many agree on is that the artist Anthony Machiavelli creates an imagery that is powerful to this day.
Below are some great images of the book that are relevant to all levels of golfer.
The ‘glass plane’ image was one of the original attempts at creating a swing plane image. This is a good attempt at providing a simple 2D image of a movement that we now understand through biomechanics to be much more complicated.
Hogan states; “If he executes his backswing properly, as his arms are approaching hip level, they should be parallel with the plane and they should remain parallel with the plane, just beneath the glass, till they reach the top of the backswing. At the top of his backswing, his left arm should be extended at the exact same angle (to the ball) as the glass.”
The ‘view from behind’ is a great angle with which to focus on the movement of the lower half. From face on it is harder to discern the nature of movement, the rotation, the weight shift and thrusting movements. It is an angle that is largely ignored in golf coaching, maybe with the presumed self-consciousness the student may feel. However modern teachers such as Sean Foley have begun to highlight its importance.
The image of Hogan shows a ‘deep turn’, steep shoulders, massive flexibility and shoulder rotation which creates a massive potential for power. The two images together create an impression of lag in the transition from back to forward swing.
This sequence of images from the backswing demonstrates how different the very same swing can look from face on. The simplified circles representing the hip and shoulder relationship show that a deep shoulder turn with restricted hips is Hogans desire.
What the images also show is the order of movement in the body, he states; “Just before your hands reach hip level, the shoulders, as they turn, automatically start pulling the hips around. As the hips begin to turn, they pull the left leg in to the right.”
The wonderful imagery above concerns again, the hip and shoulder relationship, but this time of transition into the downswing. He makes some comparisons with other sports, namely baseball in terms of weight shift and rotation in generating maximum power and efficiency.
His statements have been backed up by the modern scientific measurements and biomechanics of sports movements. There is a common thread amongst all racquet sports and this may explain why other sportsmen and women can adapt to golf very quickly – the same muscles are relied upon.
With regards to his advice, Hogan places emphasis on a strong lower body move to create torque in the body.
Again a highly qualified commentary is present from Hogan on the role of the wrists (no pun intended!). It is area that has been glossed over by much of the industry as the number of permutations and actual movements are highly complex. Perhaps the assumption is made by many that such a complex movement becomes automatic with the correct moves and sequencing of the swing.
I would agree that many golfers fall foul of the fallacy of trying to ‘create lag’. Genuine lag identified whilst hitting a ball with a high speed camera is very difficult to create. Getting a feeling of lag with a slow practice swing is possible but probably ineffective.
So one wrist release style, through the impact area, does not suit all. Bearing in mind Hogans powerful body movements and flat swing we can understand his attempts to ‘hold the club-face square’. Recent research from Chris Como and Sasho Mackenzie PhD show that forces are so great in the impact area that the wrist can independently do very little, ie it can only react to the forces present through impact, not overcome them.
The feelings Hogan articulates are accurate if you tend to draw the ball but if you regularly hit big fades, this area is not applicable to you. The message should perhaps be that getting your swing plane, weight shift and timing of body and arm movements correct will result in a good impact position.
Hogan’s great performances and unerring accuracy earned him a high level of respect from his peers and created a mystique around his technique and methodology. Although the book is clear in its writing and fantastic in its imagery it has been termed as an ‘anti-hook manual’ by some.
This was due to the constant adaptions and changes Hogan made to his game to cure a ‘vicious hook’ that he suffered from in the early part of his career. Let’s highlight the important points to watch out for as an amateur:
- A lot of the advice is very specific to Hogan himself of which he admits.
- Hogan was very strong, a frequent competitor of long drive contests in his earlier days.
- A strong and rapid lower body created his propensity to hook – opposite of most golfers.
- His acclaimed ‘secret’ centered on manipulating the face open in the backswing – again opposite to most peoples requirements.
- He started with a very week grip – in the palm of the hand.
- Some amateurs may need more hip turn on the back swing
HOGAN IN MOTION
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BEN HOGAN : POWER GOLF
THE FUNDAMENTALS OF HOGAN BY DAVID LEADBETTER
THE COMPLETE HOGAN: SHOT BY SHOT