Channeling Ben Hogan

April 05, 2015

I played my first full year on the PGA Tour in 2008, and by 2012 I felt like I needed to make some improvements in my swing to take the next step and win some tournaments. I've always been fascinated with golf history, and I see Ben Hogan's swing as the ultimate model of athleticism and efficiency. It's impossible to look at Hogan's action and not think there are things you could use in your swing. The equipment might have been different then, but what Mr. Hogan did with those clubs is timeless. I've worked with teacher Wayne DeFrancesco in kind of a new-school way to merge some of Hogan's classic technique into my game. Wayne and I trade video back and forth of my swing and Hogan's, and it's made me more athletic and consistent. I won in 2013 and 2014, and I'm ready to keep it going.


Hogan's fluid, wide takeaway is a great one to copy. My left arm is straight here, and my right elbow moves back along my side, which keeps the grip in front of my sternum. I'm turning on top of a quiet lower body, but I'm definitely bracing into my right leg. It feels like tension in my right thigh muscle—not a big move back and off the ball. My feet stay planted, and I'm using the ground for leverage. Hogan sure looks connected to the ground (below).




Hogan frequently compared the golf swing to an athletic throwing motion—basically a half-sidearm, half-underhand throw. With your arms in front of your chest on the downswing, you're in position to compress the ball while rotating out of the way. Most amateurs have too much space between the right elbow and right hip at this point—and that's a recipe for a chunked or thinned shot. I want my right elbow tucked in close (right).



One thing I work on daily is keeping my right knee from shooting out toward the ball on the downswing. Look at all the room Hogan has to swing his arms in front of his lower body. By keeping my rear end against my bag in this drill, my hips stay deep and move toward the target, which creates room to get the club in front and compress the ball with body rotation. Thank you, Mr. Hogan. You're still the man!


Kevin Streelman, a 2001 Duke graduate, has won twice on the PGA Tour.