Ben Hogan's Timeless Tips

SUBSCRIBE

Ben Hogan's Timeless Tips

May 20, 2015

Photo By: Golf Digest Resource Center

Photo By: Dallas Jones Studio, Chicago

Photo By: Golf Digest Resource Center

Photo By: AP Photo

Photo By: Golf Digest Resource Center

Photo By: Golf Digest Resource Center

Advice from the legendary ball-striker that ran in Golf Digest through the years

Accelerate through impact (Summer, 1950)

In an article on how to hit the ball farther, Hogan emphasized acceleration on the downswing, but more through following a certain sequence of movements than by merely trying to swing hard. Hogan believed following the proper chain of events (hips, then shoulders, then arms and hands) built up more energy. Once you start from the top in that particular order, he said to "execute the remainder of the downswing with gradually increasing tempo" so that the club is traveling its fastest just after impact.

Photo By: Golf Digest Resource Center

Think Low Around The Greens (Early Summer, 1951)

When possible, Hogan preferred to play low chip/pitch shots with spin, since he felt they were easier to control. To do this, he instructed golfers to keep their hands in front of the ball and low through impact. He said to keep actual hand movement to a minimum in order to avoid trying to scoop the ball.

Make a proper weight shift for crisper contact (May, 1952)

Hogan thought one of the amateur golfer's most-common flaws is that they hit the ground before hitting the ball when using their irons. To hit down on the ball properly, he suggested golfers focus on shifting their weight to their front side on the downswing. That move will keep a person from feeling like they are falling back at impact, and it help ensures a golfer will "take turf" after making contact with the ball.

Photo By: Dallas Jones Studio, Chicago

Store Up Your Power (June, 1954)

Hogan's accuracy was his biggest trademark, especially off the tee. But while he rarely missed fairways, he was also one of the longest hitters of his era. To accomplish both, he keyed on delaying his wrist action during the downswing. The result was his famous lag in which he allowed the clubhead to fall well behind the hands -- a move that is probably most closely replicated today by Sergio Garcia.

Photo By: Golf Digest Resource Center

Pronate To Fade (February, 1956)

After years of struggling with hooking the ball, Hogan discovered a way to cut that dreaded shot out of his game completely by hitting, well, a cut. He did this by pronating his left wrist (turning the palm down) as he took the club back and then cupping it (both part of his famous "secret" he revealed in a Life Magazine article in 1955) at the top. The move got the clubface so open, that no matter how hard he swung coming down, he avoided shutting it too much. The result was a consistent, high, left-to-right ball flight that he relied on to win nine major championships.

Photo By: AP Photo

Flatten your lead wrist at impact (April, 1956)

Hogan was very rigid in his belief that golfers needed to follow closely a series of proper fundamentals to have a sound swing. However, one thing that jumped out at him when comparing a good ball-striker to a hack is the position of the leading wrist (the left wrist for a right-handed player) at impact. Hogan thought the wrist should supinate or be bowed out toward the target at impact, whereas someone making poorer contact usually pronates their leading wrist into a weaker position. He felt this allowed for crisper contact, while de-lofting the club for more distance.

Photo By: Golf Digest Resource Center

Don't Overlook The Grip (October, 1960)

Hogan's famous instructional book, "Five Lessons," begins with a chapter on fundamentals, specifically, the grip, which he thought was the foundation of any good golf swing. In an excerpt of the book in the magazine, he demonstrates how one should grip the club and stresses that both hands must be firmly on the club and work together as one unit. "They can't if you grip the club almost correctly -- which really means partially incorrectly," Hogan said.

Think Swing Plane instead of swing arc (June, 1985)

In a rare interview with an older Hogan, the golf legend demonstrates his swing and firmly states the advice he gives in his book "Five Lessons", have held up over time. "I would write it the same way I did in 1957. Everything I know about the full swing is in here. I don't think the fundamentals will ever change." One lesson he revisits in particular is that every swing has two planes -- one for the backswing and a slightly shallower one for the downswing. His tip to nail this down is to "visualize the backswing plane as a large pane of glass that rests on the shoulders, as it inclines upward from the ball." Hogan says the plane of the backswing "should remain parallel with the pane to the top of the backswing," before getting into the shallower downswing. At no point should the club cross through the plane and break the imaginary glass.

Photo By: Golf Digest Resource Center

Shop This Look