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The Continuing Mystery of Ben Hogan’s Secret
Sixty-three years ago this spring a golfer experienced the achievement of a lifetime. He discovered something that transformed him from a very good player to a legend in his lifetime, with an enduring reputation as the greatest ball striker the game has ever known. Ben Hogan discovered something in 1946 and later insulted and finally acknowledged that he had discovered a “secret”. A secret that has enabled him to achieve a goal that he has been looking for for nearly 14 years on the pro tour, which is how to create a consistent, powerful, repetitive swing that allows him to acquire almost total skill over the golf ball. Debates continue to this day as to who is the greatest player of all time. But as Jack Nicklaus recently observed in response to a question about whether Tiger Woods was the best ball-striker he had ever seen, “No, that’s definitely not Ben Hogan”. And we’ve all probably read the comment attributed to “Awesome” Tommy Bolt, a champion golfer in his own right, who famously observed that “All I know is that I saw Nicklaus watching in Hogan’s practice, but I’ve never seen Hogan watch Nicklaus practice”.
For several years Hogan would only admit that he had discovered a secret. Many professional golfers speculated about his secret in the 5 April 1954 Life Magazine. The following year Hogan revealed his secret for all to see in the 8 August 1955 Life Magazine, The article was titled “This is my secret”, with Hogan detailing how he loosened his grip by moving his left hand so he can’t. look at the 2 knuckles, with the V of both hands pointing right at the button on his chin. I can say that his grip was weakened because he had previously moved his grip to the left or a neutral position in 1938 based on a tip to prevent hooking from Henry Picard. He also adopted the so-called shortened thumb position upon his release from service in 1945. The shortened thumb gave him better control of the club in the backswing by cutting down on his tendency to “John Daily it”, especially in the driver. The secret he describes involves using the Scottish technique of deliberate pronation. This technique involves twisting or cupping the left wrist in the backswing. The move is believed to make it harder to close the club face on the downswing, thus preventing a hook. Most expert players consider this a technique that is not only suitable to get the ball in the air but also to develop a hook. He also described how he “put” his left wrist through the ball. Hogan further advises that his secret is not worth a challenge to the average player and it is harmful for a bad player, especially one who is already fighting for a slice. But it certainly worked for Hogan, as he won 33 tournaments and 3 majors from 1946 until his career was interrupted by his car accident on 2 Feb 1949. It was an incredible run of success that brought him to the pinnacle of the golf world.
Perception of another Secret.
A few months before revealing his secret to Life Magazine, Jack Fleck defeated Hogan in a playoff for the 1955 US Open Championship. Fleck was little publicized and little known and it is considered one of the biggest upsets in US Open history. Hogan was devastated by the loss, announcing that he was a “ceremonial player” from that moment on. The victory would have given him a record fifth US Open Championship and redeemed his view of being ridiculed for his victory at the Hale Open in 1942, which was held like an Open in all but name, including the award of a same medal equivalent. Hogan’s other four. Hogan later released in the spring of 1957 a series of Sports Illustrated Articles that were later packaged into his classic instruction manual “Five Lessons, The Modern Fundamentals of Golf”.
The book remains relevant and a classic more than 52 years later. The book was not without controversy, however, because the secret revealed in 1955 was not found in the book’s contents. There is little or no discussion about “pronation”, except for a brief mention of the detrimental effects of early pronation on the downswing. There is little information about “supination”, however. With its focus on the fundamentals of golf, Hogan’s philosophy states that proper use and practice of the basic elements of the swing is all that is required. The basic elements consist of about 8 total movements that are linked in a chain action to create a repetitive golf swing. He felt that a player with average athletic ability could break 80. Players became skeptical when the book did not immediately lead to the promised results. There are about 18 pages in the grip alone. After all that coverage, the relatively weak grip emphasized in the Five Lessons is held up by many instructors as an example of a bad technique for beginners, as it aggravates the bane of most of the players, the dreaded slice. For golfers who already tend to draw the ball, focusing on a strong right arm contact and elbow to the side, combined with an inside swing, often produces the worst kind of shot-ruining confidence. , the snap or duck hook. The recommendation to move the hips as fast as one can, as if they are attached to the wall by an elastic band, causes damage to the swings of golfers whose arms cannot follow the body. and always ends with a shake or by a toss. their arms through the impact like a rag doll. Finally, a key principle of the swing presented in the book as a breakthrough of sorts, the plane, proved to be very complex, somewhat esoteric and an issue that few understood.
A Book Before or After Its Time?
Due to the fairness of his book, a new type of “franchise” player emerged in the form of Arnold Palmer, Gary Player of a small degree and amateur star Jack Nicklaus. Golf’s “swashbuckling” season is in full force and going for Palmer’s rugged style, with a unique swing style that only an athlete can pull off, seems to have little similar to the style promoted by Hogan. Then there’s Nicklaus, who flies a right elbow, reverse “C” and incredible length that Hogan’s hero Bobby Jones described as “A style of golf I’m not familiar with”. The reverse “C” became prominent on the tour and the style was unlike that promoted by Five Lessons. Despite Hogan’s reputation as a good striker of the ball and earning the admiration of his fellow players, Hogan’s style paled in comparison to Palmer’s. Palmer’s golf was compelling, emotional, and it created a large fan base known as “Arnie’s Army”. Players want to play as Arnie. There was no love lost between Palmer and Hogan, whose insistence on referring to Palmer as “Fella” angered Palmer throughout his career. The somewhat conservative style of golf played by Hogan fell somewhat out of favor during the era in which Palmer took the lead, Player began to be a force to be reckoned with and Nicklaus took the lead.
What’s the Secret?
There was a hint of unfinished business over the years as Hogan wound down his career. Periodically for the next several decades, there were insinuations that there was more to his golf swing and his knowledge than was revealed in his golf books or Life Magazine articles. He often introduced himself as “Henny Bogan” when meeting people or when talking on the phone, which was an obvious mocking reference to himself. He did an interview with Nick Seitz in December 1984 that was added as a preface for a reprint of Five Lessons as it closed 30 years in print. Hogan reveals the importance of pronation and the trials and tribulations that led him to the discovery. He also insisted that he “wouldn’t change a thing in the Five Lessons and everything he knows about the whole golf swing is in there”. There are speculations and doubts about these statements again, because the book does not talk about the secret he revealed in 1955. Some time later in the next decade, Hogan reportedly offered to reveal his actual which secret he apparently did not reveal in the Life Magazine Article. There are rumors and speculation that the technique will allow a pro to shoot in the 50s. The asking figure was reportedly $100,000. The agreement was never fulfilled. There was an update in one of the golf magazines that gave a recap of most of the information known so far about the secret, but no new information was presented.
Hogan has not disclosed any additional information on his life. Many books have been published in the last decade or so by reliable people who have stated Hogan’s secret as told to them, in some cases, by Hogan himself. While many of these present interesting stories, in some cases the books are fiction and in other cases the introduction to the secret is based on emphasizing the principles outlined in the Five Lessons. Many speculated that nobody knew anymore and that Hogan was just screwing people over. Some struggle to explain why, if there was more to the story, a noble man of integrity like Hogan didn’t reveal it in his lifetime. Others postulate that Hogan’s secret is in his head, or that it’s an 8-letter word that “starts with a P and ends with an E” (practice). Byron Nelson said hit it close to the hole and make the putts. Others insist that whatever the secret is, it is no longer relevant to the modern game with new technology and the focus on golf targets and distance. Jim McLean observed in The Ben Hogan Collection DVD that Ben Hogan’s secret in the final analysis was many small things. That may be closer to the truth than anyone realizes.
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