The Modern Fundamentals Of Golf by Ben Hogan

Everyone wants to shoot lower scores. The person who shoots 90 and says that they are happy about it, is lying. They desperately want to break 90, and shoot par or better every round. Ben Hogan's Five Lessons The Modern Fundamentals of Golf seeks to simplify the complex game of golf into his five lessons or five areas one can study and master on the golfers way to shoot better scores. As Mr. Hogan says about his fundamentals, is that they "represent a sifting of knowledge I acquired during my three decades in the game". After all, even with the memories of people old enough to remember seeing Mr. Hogan play winning golf diminishes, his winning principals still are very relevant today, passing the test of time. The 5 fundamentals Mr. Hogan goes into detail here are:

1) The Grip

2) Stance and Posture

3) The First Part of The Swing

4) The Second Part of The Swing

5) Summary and Review

 

The overarching goal of these fundamentals you might say is to get to the point of playing golf good enough to shoot lower scores, you would be correct. But what does this entail, according to Ben it is attaining a "CORRECT, POWERFUL, REPEATABLE SWING". With emphasis on the repeatably aspect. You must also consider these goals to be factored in with things like the weather conditions, and pressures of different sorts. In his quarter of a century pursuit of attaining golfing perfection, Mr. Hogan sees sharing these principles with you as the reason to undertake this task. Or for others, like Mr. Hogan privilege. 

It is important to note, that the idea that some have of not being good enough to play better golf. Is an premise that is based primarily in the space between the golfers ears. When you start to compare yourself with others we see on T.V. its easy to feel like this cannot be attained with schedules other than those that allow for hours of practice everyday. Once this unrealistic comparison is brought into awareness, we can focus on our game and the unnecessary disappointment of not hitting 300+ yard bombs, or using a 7 iron for 200 yard approach shots that land 10 feet beyond the pin and get sucked back for a tap in. With thoughts that if all I have to do to achieve such PGA Tour routineness is to keep our head down or buy the new 4% more aerodynamic driver we see the pro's use. Mr. Hogan wants to point out that the average golfer has all the tools in his box of tricks to play better golf. With far less effort than is typically thought that only the Dustin Johnson's and Brooks Koepka's can do for whatever reason. The average golfer underestimates himself. Mr. Hogan illustrates this point by using the swing in short pitches, and putts and extending it farther back for the longer irons. THE AVERAGE GOLFER IS COMPLETELY CAPABLE OF BUILDING A REPEATABLE SWING, AND BREAKING 80. 

The Grip- 

Good golf begins with a good grip. Mr. Hogan calls the grip the heartbeat of the swing. The grip is far from a "still life" sort of thing. Logically, the grip is the only point of control one has physical contact with the club. Conceptually, we can think of this like a set of reactions that take place like in science. As the reaction causes new effects, the new effects cause new reactions. The goal is to not get too far ahead, or too far behind the sequence of this chain reaction. Only focusing on the next step along the reaction. In the golf swing the power originates in the body. As the power builds up, it is transferred from the body to the arms, which in turn transfers through the hands to the clubhead. Other examples include how one could swing a medieval mace, the trick to crack the mace is to swing such that at the right position is coupled with the right timing. Proper grip in any case is the key element. There has been numerous grip techniques used throughout golfing history. What is underlined here is that you use one where the hands act as ONE UNIT. Here's how Mr. Hogan would do it: 

 

WITH THE BACK OF YOUR LEFT HAND FACING THE TARGET (AND THE CLUB IN GENERAL POSITION IT WOULD BE IN AT ADDRESS) PLACE THE CLUB IN THE LEFT HAND SO THAT 

1) THE SHAFT IS PRESSED UP UNDER THE MUSCULAR PAD AT THE INSIDE HEEL OF THE PALM, AND

2) THE SHAFT ALSO LIES DIRECTLY ACROSS THE TOP JOINT OF THE FOREFINGER. 

 CROOK THE FOREFINGER AROUND THE SHAFT AND YOU WILL DISCOVER THAT YOU CAN LIFT THE CLUB AND MAINTAIN A FAIRLY FIRM GRIP ON IT BY SUPPORTING IT JUST WITH THE MUSCLES OF THE FINGER AND THE MUSCLES IN THE PAD OF THE PALM.

NOW JUST CLOSE THE LEFT HAND- CLOSE THE FINGERS BEFORE YOU CLOSE THE THUMB- AND THE CLUB WILL BE JUST WHERE IT SHOULD BE.

"Practice makes perfect" this latin proverb is true, and simple for obtaining the desired grip. Practice this 5-10 minutes a day for a week until it is second nature. there is no need to apply anymore strength in the grip than that a baby could take the club out of your hands. This pressure should also be uniform across all fingers in both hands. 

TO OBTAIN THE PROPER GRIP WITH THE RIGHT HAND, HOLD IT SOMEWHAT EXTENDED, WITH THE PALM FACING YOUR TARGET. NOW- YOUR LEFT HAND IS ALREADY CORRECTLY AFFIXED - PLACE THE CLUB IN YOUR RIGHT HAND SO THAT THE SHAFT LIES ACROSS THE TOP JOINT OF THE FINGERS AND DEFINITELY BELOW THE PALM. 

THE RIGHT-HAND GRIP IS A FINGER GRIP. THE TWO FINGERS WHICH SHOULD APPLY MOST OF THE PRESSURE ARE THE TWO MIDDLE FINGERS.

NOW, WITH THE CLUB HELD FIRMLY IN THE FINGERS OF YOUR RIGHT HAND, SIMPLY FOLD YOUR RIGHT HAND OVER YOUR LEFT THUMB.

For at least a week, PUT IN 30 MINUTES OF DAILY PRACTICE ON THE GRIP.  

Stance and Posture-

It might be of some benefit to bring a notepad to your next range session and have a log of what you are working on in your swing. As we test different techniques in the golf swing it is less probable and easier to record what you have tested, and what you plan to test in the future. Because it is easy to get lost in the labyrinth of swing thoughts. And end up worse off that one started. If you haven't been doing this, start now. Consider the bad habits forgotten and realize the most technical thing about the golf swing is its explanation. Remember, that there is a purpose to everything about the swing. Ask yourself why you do what you do? Does it have a purpose? Is there a evolution of your swing that you can reference. The proper stance and posture enable a golfer to be perfectly balanced and poised throughout the swing. Only then will your legs, arms, and body be able to carry out their interrelated assignments correctly. The stance should satisfy the following fundamentals:

  1. his body will be in balance throughout the swing
  2. his muscles are ready to perform fluidly and,
  3. as a logical result, all the energy he pours into his swing will be channeled to produce maximum control and power.  

Q- How far apart should your feet be?

A- They should be the width of your shoulders for the stance with a 5-iron. They should be slightly more narrow the more lofted the club, with them closest together with the lob wedge. And somewhat father apart than shoulder length with the long irons and woods. 

Feet that are too far apart locks the joints and hinders the legs remaining supple. Most golfers feet are too narrow. A wide stance produces a firmer foundation for traction and balance. 

 

THERE IS ONE CORRECT BASIC STANCE: THE RIGHT FOOT IS AT A RIGHT ANGLE TO THE LINE OF FLIGHT AND THE LEFT FOOT IS TURNED OUT A QUARTER TURN TO THE LEFT. The right foot is at a 90° angle, perpendicular to the target line. The left foot then, would be a quarter turn from the 90° angle, or about 22° to the left of perpendicular. Obeying this stance fundamental will MAKE IT APPRECIABLY EASIER FOR THE GOLFER, AS HE GOES INTO HIS BACKSWING, TO FEEL AND CONTROL THE MUSCLES THAT SHOULD INDICATE THE SWING. THE CORRECT STANCE ACTS AS A PERFECT AUTOMATIC GOVERNOR ON THE AMOUNT OF HIP TURN THE GOLFER CAN TAKE (AND SHOULD TAKE) ON THE BACKSWING.  

 

IF YOUR LEFT FOOT IS CORRECTLY POSITIONED, YOU CAN GO THROUGH THE BALL WITH EVERYTHING YOU'VE GOT. YOU CAN RELEASE THE WHOLE WORKS. THERE ISN'T AN OUNCE OF ENERGY THAT ISN'T IMPARTED TO THE BALL. When you notice that a certain muscle group isn't doing what you want it to do, then think to yourself if it could be a consequence of a miscommunication or error in an earlier part of the swing. This may be turning your hips too far back, in this case, the shoulders try to make up for the inconsistency and therefore cause a problem that is not at the surface the real cause. The goal is to think about the club, and allowing the club to make a full swing, and remember that the further the arc, the more distance is attained to which the club could potentially have more room to speed up, when club head speed increases, so does ball speed, and this translates into the golf ball traveling further, given similar conditions. In the golf swing, the arms, are essentially the connection between the club and the body. The closer you keep your arms together, the better they will operate as one unit. THE ELBOWS SHOULD BE TUCKED IN, NOT STUCK OUT FROM THE BODY. AT ADDRESS, THE LEFT ELBOW SHOULD POINT DIRECTLY AT THE LEFT HIPBONE AND THE RIGHT ELBOW SHOULD POINT DIRECTLY AT THE RIGHT HIPBONE. THIS POSITION SHOULD BE MAINTAINED THROUGHOUT THE SWING. 

   

 

 One should be very consious of their elbows and the elbows positioning, towards the hips. This action puts your arms in a favorable position. Also, this may feel awkward, but with time and practice, this should be automatic, swing after swing, with no variation, repeating the same action, like a machine. You know you are making progress with it seems like the arms and club are one functioning unit. One word to describe this relationship should be "relaxed". One other area of the body that deserves mention is the legs. And especially the knees, which set the tone for the rest of the body. 

SWING THOUGHT: KNEES MUST BE PROPERLY FLEXED. THE LEGS MUST BE SUPPLE BUT AT THE SAME TIME THEY MUST HAVE THIS LIVE TENSION.

In the proper sitting-like postion, your body should feel in balance both laterally and back-to-front. You should weight should be slightly more on the heels than on the balls of your feet, such that if you wanted to, you could retract your toes under your feet. The back stays in the same posture as when you walk down the fairway. DO NOT crouch shoulders, instead bend your head down only by bending your neck, NOT the back or shoulders. Main swing thoughts:

The first part of the swing-

If the golfer executes his backswing correctly, at the top of his backswing his legs, hips, shoulders, arms and hands will be properly poised and interrelated to move with power and coordination into that climatic part of the golf swing, the downswing. Use good shots as evidence for what your working on, in the swing, to tell you if you are executing it correctly. That is the truth test of the swing. Keep in mind that what you do at the range, isn't necessarily how you will preform in the course. There are a lot of mental factors that come into play. The correct swing, Hogan postulates, should get BETTER under conditions of more pressure. He did win 64 PGA tour events, and 9 majors.

The bridge between the address and the actual start of the backswing is "the waggle". While the word waggle sounds like an aimless and random movement of the golf club and therefore not mean anything. It is used to create feeling in certain muscle groups to prepare for the execution of a solid well timed swing. And to promote a fluid and relaxed swing. 

EACH TIME YOU WAGGLE THE CLUB THE CLUB BACK, THE RIGHT ELBOW SHOULD HIT THE FRONT PART OF YOUR RIGHT HIP, JUST ABOUT WHERE YOUR WATCH POCKET IS. WHEN THIS TAKES PLACE, THE LEFT ELBOW, AS IT MUST, COMES OUT SLIGHTLY, THE LOWER PART OF YOUR ARM FROM THE ELBOW DOWN ROTATES A LITTLE, AND THE LEFT HAND MOVES THREE INCHES OR SO PAST THE BALL TOWARD THE TARGET. AS THE HANDS MOVE BACK TO THE BALL ON THE FORWARD WAGGLE, THE LEFT HAND ALSO MOVES AN INCH OR TWO PAST THE BALL TOWARD THE TARGET. Make your waggle purposeful, but don't groove your waggle. It takes instinct to plan and play a golf shot, and your preparations for each shot must be done instinctively. During the waggle the shoulders do not turn, on the actual swing they do. The hands, arms, and the shoulders start to move almost simultaneously on the backswing. Cater your waggle to what the proceeding next shot demands. Keep the tempo the same between the waggle and the live shot. 

The order of the muscle groups from address to the top of the backswing is:

  1. Hands
  2. Arms
  3. Shoulders
  4. Hips

(The order is reversed on the down-swing) 

ACTUALLY, THE HANDS START THE CLUBHEAD BACK A SPLIT SECOND BEFORE THE ARMS START BACK. AND THE ARMS BEGIN THEIR MOVEMENT A SPLIT SECOND BEFORE THE SHOULDERS BEGIN TO TURN. AS A GOLFER AQUIRES FEEL AND RYTHEM THROUGH PRACTICE, THE HANDS, ARMS, AND SHOULDERS WILL INSTINCTIVELY TIE IN ON THIS SPLIT-SECOND SCHEDULE. 

JUST BEFORE YOUR HANDS REACH HIP LEVEL, THE SHOULDERS, AS THEY TURN, AUTOMATICALLY, START PULLING THE HIPS AROUND. AS THE HIPS BEGIN TO TURN, THEY PULL THE LEFT LEG INTO THE RIGHT.

 

SHOULDERS: You want to rotate the shoulders as far back as they will go, as long as you maintain a stationary head. You can check by the way your back will square to the target. As a rule, the more you can turn your head, the better. To bend your left elbow, is to forfeit precious power, reducing the backswing by half! Check to see if your shoulders are rotating the proper amount by noticing your chin position relative to the top of your left shoulder.

HIPS: The number one error made in turning the hips is they turn too soon. The optimal time to start the rotation of the hips is when the turning of the shoulders starts to pull the hips around. Hogan warns against taking the hips too far back due largely to the lack of tension in the muscles between the hips and the shoulders. This tension is valuable because of the role it plays in the downswing. With the build-up tension between the hips and the shoulders, you have something with which you can begin the downswing. Also beneficial is also beneficial to pull you down to the ball. 

IT IS THIS INCREASED TENSION THAT UNWINDS THE UPPER PART OF THEH BODY. IT UNWINDS THE SHOULDERS, THE ARMS AND THE HANDS IN THAT ORDER, THE CORRECT ORDER. IT HELPS THE SWING. SO MUCH IT MAKES IT ALMOST AUTOMATIC.

LEGS: The left knee breaks in to the right, the left foot rolls in to the right on the inside part of the sole, and what weight there is on the left leg rides on the inside ball of the foot. A few words of caution here is not to lift the left heel too high off the ground on the backswing. If the heel stays on the ground-fine. If it comes up an inch off the ground-fine...no higher than that though. Balance is a higher ordered aspect in the broader swing context. The movement you cause in the feet during the turning of the body and the legs is normal, let them move. As for the right leg, it should maintain the same position it had at address. Check right leg stability by marking its angle at address with club, then noting if angle of the club changes when he practices the backswing motion. 

To introduce Hogan's emphasis on thinking of the swing as a plane, rather than an arc, visualize the backswing as a large plane of glass that rests on the shoulders as it inclines upward from the ball. As the arms approach hip level on the backswing, they should be moving parallel with the plane and should reamin parallel with the plane, or just below the glass, to the top of the backswing. It would be ideal if the arms could be swung back parallel to the plane from the very start of the swing, but because of the way we humna beings are constructed, a man gripping a club can't get his arms onto the plane until they are nearly hip high. The warning here is if you thrust your arms up above the plane so that they would shatter the plane of glass. The is most common at the top of the backswing. As a consequence they try to right themselves on the downswing, fail, and miss-hit the ball. 

If you can devote 30 minutes of swing practice a day for one week, you will begin to piece together the correct movements more than you may think. And try to dedicate 10 minutes a day to practicing the waggle. Devoting some time to strength and conditioning training your body certainly doesn't hurt either. Start with the whole body workouts, then devote time to specific muscle groups. The heart is a muscle too. The effect of working out is to exaggerate a fundamental feeling you want to have about the full golf swing: THE ACTION OF THE ARMS IS MOTIVATED BY THE MOVEMENTS OF THE BODY, AND THE HANDS CONSCIOUSLY DO NOTHING BUT MAINTAIN A FIRM GRIP ON THE CLUB. Practicing also if nothing else, is time spend perusing something that makes them happy, and gives them something to spend time outside in the fresh air, and occasionally gives them something to think about on the ride home. 

 

The Second Part of The Swing-

The feeling we get from catching one solid and watching it sail for the flag. Keep practicing and you will feel this one day, don't give up! In this part of Mr. Hogan's book we will go through the part of the swing that impact the ball, and sends it sailing, the start of the down-swing to the follow through.

SWING THOUGHT: As one starts their downswing feel the hips turn to the left. The shoulders, arms, and hands - in that order - then release their power. The speed from this alone carries the golfer through impact and all the way around the the follow through. 

On the downswing, a golfer swings on a slightly different plane than on the backswing. THE PLANE FOR THE DOWNSWING IS LESS STEEPLY INCLINED AND IS ORIENTED WITH THE BALL QUITE DIFFRENTLY FROM THE BACKSWING PLANE. This second plane comes automatically from turning ones hips back to the left and automatically lowers the right shoulder. Hogan notes that when the golfer is on this correct downswing plane, he has to hit from the inside out. If the golfer starts their downswing incorrectly with his shoulders or hands and not with their hips, they cannot get onto the proper plane or hit from the inside out. However, if the golfer correctly by turning their hips, he's all set. Imagine that, at address, one end of an elastic strip is fastened to a wall directly behind your left hip and that the other end is fastened to your left hipbone. As the shoulders turn the hips on the backswing, the elastic is stretched turning the hips to the left, the elastic will snap back to the left with tremendous speed. 

The hips initiate the downswing. So to begin the downswing Hogan says, one should turn their hips back to the left. There must be enough lateral motion forward to transfer the weight to the left foot. The surest way to complicate the downswing is to initiate the downswing with the arms instead of the hips. The result most of the time is the notorious slice.

SWING THOUGHT: The main thing for the golfer is to keep consciousness of hand action out of their swing. The correct swing is founded on chain action ,and if you use the hands when you shouldn't, you prevent this chain action.

The next logical step is to ask, "what do the hands do?" The answer is they do nothing active until after the arms have moved on the downswing to a position just above the level of the hips. The arms get carried down by the movement of the hips. 

In its general character, the correct motion of the right arm and hand in th eimpact area resembles the motion an infielder makes when he throws half sidearm, half underhand to first after fielding a ground ball. As the right arm swings forward, the right elbow is very close to the right hip and "leads" the arm - it is part of the arm nearest the target as he begins to make the throw. On a full swing shot, you want to hit the ball as hard as you can with your right hand but there is more: HIT THE BALL AS HARD AS YOU CAN WITH BOTH HANDS. Hit as hard with your left hand, as your right. 

AT IMPACT THE BACK OF THE LEFT HAND FACES TOWARD YOUR TARGET. THE WRIST BONE IS DEFINITELY RAISED. IT POINTS TO THE TARGET AND, AT THE MOMENT THE BALL IS CONTACTED, IT IS OUT IN FRONT, NEARER TO THE TARGET THAN ANY PART OF THE HAND.

By promoting his left wrist just before impact, a golfer expends his clubhead speed before they strike the ball, restricts the arc of their swing, opens himself to numerous errors.  

Hogan notes here that chips, pitches, trap shots and other shots near the green, the hands should function the same as they do on a full swing. At impact the right arm is still bent slightly. 

Summary and Review-

In sharing his 25 years of experience at the time of this book, Hogan wishes that in sharing these fundamentals the golfer will take away, a great increase the average players enjoyment of the game by enabling him to become a real golfer with a sound, powerful, repeating swing. And also, serve in the body of knowledge and understanding of the golf swing. He likens this body of knowledge advancing like we see in other fields, like technology and medicine. He reiterates the importance of practicing with a purpose, and then jotting down swing thoughts after each session of practice. As a way to practice and grow at a greater efficiency. Do you think of golf swing errors in terms of cause and effect? And not in terms of what the end result is? Hogan illustrates this by the following example: say two people are at the driving range, and one of the golfers picks his head up and mis-hits the ball. And the other golfer suggests that they need to keep their head down, as if this were the cause of the mis-hit. While it is true the the golfer picked his head up, the real cause is that the shoulders, or hands at the top of the swing, and not his hips.

 

 

If your waiting to hear about putting in this book, your not going to find it. Mr. Hogan excluded it in his book.

I hope this was interesting, and maybe even helpful. Be a student of the game. And that in the process you will have fun. Please feel free to ask any questions you may have here or to the shop email: customshop@primegolflab.com


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