Let’s stop the Hogan emulation…and emulation of “magic moves” in general.

Great ball striker, great swing, but I will be redundant yet again and kill two birds with one stone.

You can’t look at stop action positions in his swing and zero them out. The leveraged right elbow, for example. Some Golfers will have bend at impact and others will be straight. It depends on body type, the amount of hip clearance…and duh…what happened in the swing up to there.

There are very few rights and wrongs in the swing, what is more important is that your swing matches.

I had a client the other day who had a very flat shoulder turn and even flatter arm swing. I tried to get him a little more vertical, to match his setup, he actually steepened the club even more than he did from the flat position. The end result was I changed his setup to match his swing and viola, he started to hit it better and feel better.

No Dustin Johnson’s Bowed left wrist, Tiger’s locked left knee, JB Holmes short hinged backswing, Bubba’s straight rear knee, high hands and arm over run, Hogan’s Bent right elbow, Sergio’s 19 year old down load lag move…and certainly not my 1992/3 massive lateral move off the ball. You can throw in Jack Hamm’s grunt if you’d like. I am sure there are people out there that literally think if you could perfect all of those moves, you could hit the ball 500 yards.

It has to match or it doesn’t work. Zeroing out positions that look pretty on great players and long hitters end up hitting ZERO good shots.

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25 Comments

  1. Jared

    Great post. People forget/ignore when copying Hogan’s move that he was short with long arms, very strong hands and forearms, and practiced 8 hours a day to get there.

    Reply
  2. jaybee

    Great post. IMHO required reading for every teaching pro (not to speak of the many major golf forum swing know-it-alls) and a prime candidate for insertion into the PGA teaching manual…
    The problem though for many pros will be to figure out what matches and what doesn’t.
    My personal experience is that most pros either seem to have the idea that there is one PGA manual model swing each person must be fit into, or that they try to fit you into a particular model they came up with or adopted (e.g. 1P/2P/Austin/Hogan&co).
    FWIW, I am starting to believe that the main differentiating factor between all of them is whether one goes for a connected (to the chest) right upper arm in the BS or not and that what follows, matches and what doesn’t derives from that.
    For example, I recently saw a Mahan sequence where he practised with a glove in the right armpit; if he didn’t, or if Snedeker, Couples or Nicklaus did also practise that, we would probably never have heard of either.
    Knowledge/agreement about those issues, their communication and the assessment (TPI tests, scoliosis etc.) of what’s right for a person as well as the communication of the individually different- in relevance and feel- motions remain challenges regardless.
    The other challenge is when do you give up on improving a backswing/posture/setup and go with what is, focussing on improving and ingraining an unquestionably then more complex transition instead, to achieve that better downswing, impact and ball flight and become the next Jim Furyk or Bruce Lietzke thereby?!
    Like you said before, Nobel prize worthy work once you’ve figured it out….

    Reply
  3. Will

    This should be required reading for everyone who picks up a club. Everyone is built differently, with different athletic backgrounds. “The Perfect Swing” is awesome for marketing, awful for individual golf games. And in my opinion, the best teachers are the ones who recognize this and can help golfers of all kinds, based on what works best for the golfer, not trying to make Shaq swing like Hogan because Hogan was the best ball striker of all time, so everyone who wants to hit it better ought to swing like him.

    Reply
    • Robert Johansson

      Hogan had different equipment and balls.
      Best ball striker goes to Moe Norman. Hogan wasnt even close to him.
      To much Myth about Hogan not enough facts.

      Reply
      • Will

        Moe is an even better example of my point, with the whole Natural Golf thing. It’s as if having a swing that looks like him would result in hitting the ball like him, never mind the fact that he hit balls until his hands bled, or that Hogan would use car headlights so that he could hit balls into the night. Easy to market an unusual swing with “best ball striker” credentials; not as easy to market the blood and sweat that actually led to that status.

        Reply
      • Moe couldn't caddie for Hogan !

        Moe hit the ball better than Hogan ??? You are joking I hope! I guess that is why Moe worshiped Hogan, and he carried a picture around of Ben everywhere he went. Moe is a neat guy, but an idiot savant. No my friend Moe was nowhere near the ball striker Hogan was, and I do not know where you came up with that info? Just because some crack pot businessman had an idea on how to make a lot of money selling a gimmick like Natural Golf has nothing to do with the real Moe Norman. In fact in his prime Moe never used anything close to the Natural Golf method he was paid to be the face of, due to the fact it is such an ineffective and unNatural way to swing a club. How many Major Championships have been won using the Natural Golf method? Zero! Bob Estes may have won some Timbuktu Open with it once, but that is it. Moe Norman only played golf using that ridiculous method when he was being paid to do so. Every serious competitive round in his life was played using the Vardon Grip, and traditional method. He never once broke any of his course records using the UNNatural Golf gimmick.I can shoot par using any grip including the Natural Golf one, but only a couple times messing around. It is so not meant for a golf club to be swung in this fashion. Very few people can even address and set up correctly to execute a swing in this manner unless they have hit 5 million balls like I have, and it is uncomfortable to me. Plus it only allows you to hit one shape of shot, and you sacrifice an unGodly amount of distance using that garbage. Ben Hogan won more major championships than Moe Norman ever played in my friend. I hope to God you are not trying to play with this method because if you are you might want to give the game up. Only the most desperate of hacks even consider playing this way.

        Reply
  4. woody

    “There are very few rights and wrongs in the swing”

    –That applies more to the backswing than the forward swing. Even quirky players like Furyk, Nancy Lopez, and Ryan Moore (before he became more standard) had normal looking downswings.

    “stop action positions…It depends on body type…and duh…what happened in the swing up to there.”

    –Yeah, they aren’t positions. Even Hogan’s book said, “The goal is one smooth overall movement.” Hogan’s arms were 3″ longer than Ray Floyd’s (who was much taller), so it figures that there will be some different “positions.”

    Since all golfers have a human body, there are very few ways to get a productive downswing. Among Tour pros, Classic & Modern seem to be the great divide. I could show you video of several famous Classic players who ended up somewhat off balance…Modern players never.

    Classic swings seem more likely to go bad as someone gets older. I’ve never seen a Classic player at age 72 with a swing anywhere near as good as Moe Norman had at that age. Moe said that he and Hogan did the same thing, and they probably did– but video analysis would be a lot better at finding superficial differences than identifying the common essentials.

    Reply
  5. Precis1on

    Hey Monte,

    I’ve been following your site and your wisdom for a long time.

    Your comment on your student caught my eye. What setup would be most ideal for a golfer that has a flat shoulder turn and a even flatter arm swing? Would it be one that is more bent over from the waist? I’m guessing that would require a bit of flexibility on the backswing and would have to maintain that somewhat to impact.

    Reply
  6. Paul

    The only thing most should take away from Hogan was when he said you have to be moving faster after impact than before. Even that is problematic for today’s hacker. All talk of Hogan, trying to swing like him is fruitless because chances are, you’re not playing his gear specs anyway. If you try otherwise, you’re just wasting your time. Why bother. You’ll get a nice tan, though.

    Reply
  7. Paul

    Btw, Monte, I don’t go on Golfwrx much but was over there scanning and I see you everywhere offering sound and simple advice. I hope posters there realize how fortunate they are to have you actively participating and helping.

    Reply
  8. Mike Divot

    That sound you can hear is not another hurricane.

    It’s the collective intake of breath from half the posters on golfwrx.

    Heresy!

    You might as well argue for the abolishment of Christmas, Hannukah and Chinese New Year. It’d be easier.

    Reply
  9. Tim

    I’m relatively new to golf. Can somebody unpack this obsession with Ben Hogan, or, excuse me, “Mr. Hogan”? I understand he’s one of the greatest ball-strikers of all time and that his swing is very pretty. I also understand that he wrote some instructional articles that became a popular book. But there have to be at least several dozen other all-time great golfers throughout history. Why is nobody on golfwrx trying to emulate Palmer, Nicklaus, etc.? Were they too idiosyncratic? I’m honestly curious. And why is it that Hogan enthusiasts refer to him as “Mr. Hogan?” Is there a story behind this, because I find it exceptionally weird if not.

    Reply
    • Paul

      Tim–you have to check Hogan’s record to appreciate what he accomplished, especially post accident. Watch “A Hard Case from Texas.” I think it’s on Google.

      Hogan has to be studied in context, not only with the gear he used (and I might add), he wasn’t the only one gaming flat, heavy and stiff gear, but you also have to look at him in his timeline. And he was only one of many great ballstrikers of that era that would just as soon cut your throat as look at you. He had his hands full and his competitors gave as good as they got.

      You can look at his swing mechanics, marvel at his dogged determination, his will to make a living on Tour. Everyone around him worked just as hard. I think he excelled beyond his peers for a very real and disturbing reason: As a young boy, he walked into the front room of his house to witness his father commit suicide. I think he found solace and peace from that horrific memory, on the range and only on the range and in competition. How could you not get better? He was also smart as whip, and determined to pay the price for his achievements. That may be why most of his peers and others called him Mister. A measure of respect. A measure of a man, they knew they weren’t or could ever be.

      Reply
      • Tim

        Thanks for the response and I will check out the video. To be clear, I wasn’t trying to minimize Hogan’s accomplishments. I’m just trying to figure out why an inordinate number of amateur golfers are so obsessed with his golf swing and thoughts on the golf swing, over all of the other all-time greats. It just seems like there’s this mythology surrounding his swing that I see extended to very few others.

        Reply
      • Mike Divot

        Are we allowed to respect and marvel at the accomplishments of Nelson, Snead, Palmer, Nicklaus, Watson, Trevino, etc, as well?

        Reply
    • Mike Divot

      Tim, no-one can figure it out. It has baffled the greatest scholars.

      It’s a cult. This demigod Mr Hogan, who walked amongst men in the blessed years of the mid-20th century, who never missed a fairway unless he was trying to, long may his swing be pure, etc.

      Try starting a thread on golfwrx about him and see what happens.

      It’s real, but there’s no explaining it.

      Reply
    • phil

      I’ve pasted an extract of an article, actually discussing Tigers swing, from ESPN, but the part I’ve copied discusses the legend around Hogan (there’s a thread about the article on golfwrx)

      “IN 1954, BACK when Life magazine was the most important periodical in the world, it published an article titled, simply, “Ben Hogan’s Secret.” According to the story, Hogan had incorporated a mysterious movement into his swing to transform himself from a journeyman into a multiple-major champion — winning the Masters, U.S. Open and British Open in 1953, the only player ever to do so in the same season. From that moment on, the secret took on a life of its own. Even after Hogan claimed to have revealed the secret in a follow-up article just one year later — a highly unorthodox cupped wrist at the top of his swing that he said prevented hooks and generated a controlled fade — some said Hogan held back on the truth. Today, most believe that Hogan sold Life a bill of goods. Dodson notes that the magazine paid Hogan $50,000 to participate in the article, the equivalent of some $400,000 today. “Hogan told lies,” Dodson says. “And he said it himself: The secret is in the dirt. That’s why he hit balls ’til his hands bled.” Regardless, during Tiger’s time with Haney, some claim to have seen Woods cupping his left wrist at the top of his backswing when attempting to play a fade.

      The mystique of Hogan’s secret has persisted probably because the game of golf, in all its confounding dimensions, is prone to the flowering of cults –……..”

      Full article at http://espn.go.com/golf/story/_/id/8865487/tiger-woods-reinvents-golf-swing-third-time-career-espn-magazine

      Reply
  10. Robert Hebert

    Monte, you make so much sense! What’s even worse than the emulation is the adulation. Many golfwrx swing discussions degenerate into war between competing cult members.

    Reply
  11. Paul

    Tim–like I said, meditate on his record.

    Reply
    • Mike Divot

      Are we permitted to meditate on the records og Jones, Snead, Nelson, Caspar, Locke, Nicklaus, etc?

      Reply
      • Paul

        I think I made that clear.

        Hogan played in a thunderdome of brawls against Nelson, Snead, etc. I look at Hogan with eyes wide open.

        The problem with most folks today is they put a gauzy, romantic haze over Hogan’s legacy. Some magic move, some grip change, one thing that did it. Fact is, Hogan had a lot of physical secrets. And one worldclass pivot.

        But they weren’t and aren’t secrets. Nothing could be further from the truth. Worked like a mofo. So did Snead, Nelson, Nicklaus, Casper, Knudson, Moe Norman, etc.

        Reply
  12. mstair

    “ I have found the best results occur when Ben’s advice on the shoulder turn is understood and followed.
    He begins by instructing us to turn the shoulders around as far as they can go while keeping the head still. His personal indicator of a complete shoulder turn is the brushing of his chin on the top of his left shoulder. For some of us, especially as we age, this is a challenging task. Some stretching exercises before play can certainly help, but be forewarned, inevitably our non-athletic laziness will kick in during the round and we will find our bodies betraying us by taking shortcuts. ”

    Excerpt From: Mike Stair. “Ben Hogan’s Five Lessons.” iBooks. https://itun.es/us/KfNyD.l

    Reply

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