Ben Hogan’s swing secret
My previous article reviewed some of the mystery and history of Ben Hogan’s swing, ending with an observation by Jim McLean that Hogan’s secret was indeed many little things. Many have studied Hogan’s swing without concluding his hitch problem. While it may be intuitively obvious – that is, Hogan didn’t hook simply because he was Ben Hogan – it’s not so obvious why he hooked.
Most golfers familiar with his history know that he wrestled with a hook and spent most of his early years fighting it. But the question of what Ben Hogan was trying to do with his swing that got him hooked (in the first place) is not often asked and less frequently discussed as part of his swing analysis. The subtle or implicit problem is that a hook is a symptom of a problem and not something that can be fixed per se – for example, a bad grip or an incorrect swing trajectory or a poor distribution of weight and balance. So while it is roundly acknowledged that Hogan had a hitch problem, it’s rare to see that problem broken down to assign a cause to his action and also see why he didn’t do more about it before 1946.
The reason Hogan hooked the ball is because of the action he took to hit the ball further when he was competing with the other caddy at Glen Garden Country Club, Fort Worth in the 1920s (probably 1924-1927). The caddy played a game in which they hit balls into the holes for nickels.
The winner obviously won money, but the loser had to collect all the balls for the next round. Hogan was younger and smaller than the other caddy and found that he couldn’t hit the ball that far. At that moment he was doing two things above all others; fighting for his place in the pecking order to get select corners for the sale of newspapers, as well as with the other caddy because that was the nature of the caddy yard, and he was learning to play golf. He combined the two to convert a golf action that would allow him to hit the ball further and further as he matured. The action was similar to throwing a punch, with the action of the arms synchronized with the rotation of the hips. You probably worked on your timing to get your right arm to launch as fast as possible to follow the action of your right hip. He staged it from the hip as if he were throwing a punch, as he would later relate in his books.
I should add here that this was not the “cartoon hay maker” often depicted as coiled behind the head like a baseball pitcher. Hogan’s action was the punch of someone who knows how to use their hands, similar to a boxer’s jab or a short punch that travels a short distance driven from the hip. While it may not be obvious, timing your action from the hip, all other things being equal, means everything turns powerfully to the left through impact. Without some other form of swing compensation, the shoulders, arms, and hands work aggressively to the left or closing through the ball. The obvious problem with this action is that it causes a low running hook, but this type of shot was ideal for the dry fairway conditions of the golf courses he played in Texas. Hogan probably worked hard on his swing during this period of time, as much if not more than he did throughout his life while earning a reputation as a tireless forward.
It would not be an easy task to change this basic action that had been so ingrained when he turned pro in 1932. He would struggle with a hook problem initially until 1938 and then intermittently during the early part of the 1946 campaign, when he finally discovered a way to heal. the problem once and for all. He revealed pronation as his “secret” in a Life magazine article on August 8, 1955. Pronation is what he added to his swing to solve the problem, and a careful look at his swing reveals that he continued to maintain the problem. link between your hips and your arm throughout your career.
But if pronation was his real secret, why has there been an ongoing debate on this topic for the past 50 years or more? Hogan often hinted that he made his swing “hook-proof” by, in fact, erecting a giant wall on the left side of the golf course, beyond which he was extremely sure he would not go. He felt that pronation saved him a hit per round, although it was likely worth a bit more than that in terms of confidence and consistency.
While pronation may have been his secret, there is a bit of an incongruity to resolve between some of his statements and the facts. For example, many believe that Hogan’s combination of little things represented his true secret. He used extremely stiff shafts, oversized grips, weakened the lofts of his clubs, placed his hands in an extremely weak grip position directly on top of the stick, and employed a shorter thumb position with his left hand grip. The “V’s” on his grip pointed directly to her chin.
When he said he used pronation, it was in addition to all these other elements of his setup and swing. While that seems to make some sense, once he showed that he had found a way to cure his hook, he also stated that he had actually started playing better golf in 1946 because he had stopped trying to do a lot of little things. perfectly. Hogan had found that such over-detail and attention to detail was not only impossible, it was unnecessary as long as the basics of swing were solid.
Hogan’s premise that mastery of the fundamentals was enough to play top-notch golf, set forth in Five Lessons, The Modern Fundamentals of Golf, was met with some skepticism. Many of those who tried his relatively simplified instruction couldn’t help but miscut the ball. Others found that their tendency to hook the ball was exacerbated by the action of the inside swing. Others were still puzzled by the lack of mention of pronation, which had been accepted as Hogan’s secret. There was also the question of the plane, with a different path for the back swing compared to the path taken to hit the ball.
But Hogan had apparently solved his swing problems using pronation, as he never suffered from the hook problem again after 1946. Or did he discover something else that allowed him to hit the ball without fear of hooking it? We are left with the conjecture of those who believe that there was more than was revealed during his lifetime. In the final analysis, his secret seems to be a lot of little things that were implemented in his swing, with pronation potentially the final element necessary for him to hit the ball so well.