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"Ben Hogan's Magical Device" by Ted Hunt

post #1 of 28
Thread Starter 

Discuss "Ben Hogan's Magical Device" by Ted Hunt here.

post #2 of 28

Thank you for posting this iacas!  I want to first introduce myself.  I just started playing golf in March.  I was a baseball player and blew out my shoulder and at 28 I needed something to be competitive about.  My friends have played for 15 years and one is a 6 handicap, which stinks for me because as you know friends are very competitive.


Long story short I went from not being able to hit a golf ball in March to having my best score from the blues of 92.  Btw I want to point out that playing with my friends that means no mulligans and if you accidently hit the ball you have to count it, so I think a 92 is pretty good.


Anyway, I never could figure out what the term wrist release meant so I bought Hogan's 5 lessons and while it helped there were things I could not figure out that he was saying.  One of them is when he talks about supinating the wrist to create the "bulge" going toward the target.  Never could figure it out. 


I bought the book "Ben Hogan's Magical Device" in August and that is when I started getting better.  He explains alot of what Hogan was talking about.  For instance supination was a miss spoken explination for what Hogan meant as Palmer Flexion, which if you see it helps you feel your wrist Palmer Flex.


I recommend this book to anyone who has Hogan's five lessons.  They really should be used together.

post #3 of 28

It's a supplement to 5 Lessons, but it doesn't add a whole lot aside from explaining a few things better. Half the book is really a biography of Hogan, with half being swing related. The bio parts were cool, the swing advice was interesting but not up to the level of 5 Lessons. 


Personally, I think people analyze Hogan's swing way too much and don't do a good job. There's a difference between how he swung and how he told people to swing, so people try to claim he had some crazy secret. The secret was, he was tough as nails mentally and he practiced like there was no tomorrow. Also, any claim that he had a secret referred to his ability to consistently not snap hook despite having a swing which has a lot of potential for that miss. He gives a great overview of the swing, most of his metaphors are good, and his grip and stance advice are standard. 


I have to point out to everyone who will listen, however, that 5 lessons alone isn't enough to learn to swing optimally. There are a lot of flaws with that book, some of the advice is outdated, and much is poorly phrased, and people reinterpreting it usually doesn't help. This book mainly explains a few things better, and has the biographical info. In all, there are a million different ways to phrase the same piece of advice, and Hogan's images were not always the best for everyone. (An example is that, in 5 lessons, lag is not mentioned at all, but Hogan strongly advises using it by different names and by setting you up to produce it.)

post #4 of 28

Exactly!  Very well put.  This book is definately a supplement to 5 Lessons.  This book actually makes 5 Lessons a better book because it helps to explain what Hogan was really trying to say.  That's why for anyone who has read Hogans 5 Lessons I would definately recommend this book because in some ways it will open your eyes to some of Hogan's advice.

post #5 of 28

The next book of Ted Hunt's is "Ben Hogan's Short Game Simplified". It expands Hogan's short game with more photos (most not of Hogan), some drills and a lot less biography then "Magical Device". Another worthwhile addition to 5 Lessons and the under appreciated "Power Golf".


When it does come down to books I'll take "The Eight-Step Swing" by Jim McLean. While not a "Hogan book" the influence is there and it's not written to make the reader a Hogan Clone. (I excommunicated myself from the First Church of Hogan for heresy, but still attend.)


However, I prefer watching repetitive slow motion video on the DVD "The Ben Hogan Collection" (again Jim McLean) over any of the books, including Hogan's.  (Most of this DVD reminds me of a cake named "Death by Chocolate." A few bites are wonderful and too much is too much.)



Edited by The Tin Man - 12/12/11 at 5:11pm
post #6 of 28

PS: The "Magical Device" is Hogans connection between shoulders and arms.  The "secret"  is the way he moved his left hand. 

post #7 of 28

Bingo!  It's in the Palmar flexion.  Very well put!

post #8 of 28
Has anyone used this particular method for putting? I remember a couple years ago I tried it and was making lots of short putts but leaving long ones short. I'm in a putting slump right now, and was going to try it again for short putts and use a diff method for my lag putts.
post #9 of 28

Old thread so perhaps no one cares, but I'll add my 2 cents as an anatomist. As others have said, the two books by this author together make a nice appendix to 5 Lessons. In a few paragraphs, Hunt is able to better flesh out and emphasize two important points Hogan hinted at in 5 Lessons but did not clearly describe. Unfortunately, to find those important paragraphs explaining The Magical Device and The Secret one has to wade through a lot of extraneous and sometimes anatomically incorrect information. Still enjoyable reading, but one cannot merely flip through the book to get the point. This is probably why there are so many bad reviews on the internet.


I gather from reading reviews of this book that many people found the idea of palmar flexion (The Secret) to be very helpful in correcting 5 Lesson's description of supination. However, anatomically Hogan's supination was actually correct and palmar flexion is incorrect. Supination refers to an action and NOT a position. As such it cannot be shown in a single drawing. If you grab a door handle with your left hand and attempt to palmar flex using wrist flexors nothing will happen. If instead you twist the handle counterclockwise using forearm supination not only does the handle rotate BUT more importantly the wrist ends up in palmar flexion. So yes the wrist ends up in a position of palmar flexion as shown in that famous drawing in 5 Lessons, but the muscles and movements that achieved this position were supinator muscles and supination of the forearm. This is a very important distinction. ( Unfortunately Hunt mistakenly talks about facing "the dimple" at the elbow outward as "supination" when in fact this is only achieved through shoulder joint external rotation.)


Now take a golf club and swing down to the point where the shaft is at 9:00 and the arms nearly point to the ball. Have the wrists in extension (cupped) as Hogan called his "secret." In this position, actively palmar flex the wrist (flex the palm towards the forearm) and watch what happens. Do not twist  the forearm (supinate) but only flex the wrist into a bow. The wrist is now bowed but continues to face 90 degrees to the target line and upwards. This was palmar flexing. Now repeat the 9:00 position but instead supinate the forearm by rotating the forearm/wrist counterclockwise along the long axis of the forearm and club shaft. Don't let the clubhead leave the spot it is in but just rotate. Note that this rotation of the forearm also results passively in a palmar flexed (bowed) wrist BUT with the back of the wrist pointing down, towards the ball and down the line. This is the position we always see in stop action of Hogan at this position. The back of the wrist  the back of the elbow are in plane, which by definition is a fully supinated forearm, which it was not a split second before. So, yes the still photo position is palmar flexion of the wrist, but the movement Hogan is actively doing is supination using supinator muscles NOT palmar flexors to arrive at this position.


This is a brilliant move because it manages simultaneously to square the clubface, de-loft the club and place the wrist into a strong impact position all with a single micro-movement that takes very little effort or timing. On the other hand, palmar flexing the wrist only bows the wrist but does not square up the clubface. You can see how the release will be completely different. The golfer is now still faced with a violent unpredictable rotating lash at the ball with the right hand to bring the club around 90 degrees to square up the club face. Depending on the timing, this results either in "getting stuck" and push fading the shot or snap hooking. With Hogan's supination, one is only left with releasing the clubface down and straight through the ball.

post #10 of 28
I assume you are talking about twisting the lead wrist, correct?
post #11 of 28

Hi, Apologies as this will be a little long, and I'll likely get laughed at. "Twist" can mean different things to different people, but in answer to your question, it could be called a twist in the sense that forearm rotation is used to twist the grip without changing the direction it points, just like turning a door knob. Ted Hunt gets his anatomical details a bit wrong as is indicated by his description of palmar flexion in Ben Hogan's Short Game Simplified on page 10. He shows two pictures going from dorsiflexion (broken back) of the wrist to palmar flexion (bowed). This is correct, however he is also doing supination at the same time so the sequence does NOT show pure palmar flexion. How do I know this? The back of the wrist points in a different direction in the two photos, almost 90 degrees different. This cannot be achieved by palmar and dorsiflexion of the wrist but requires forearm rotation (supination or pronation). Mr Hunt instinctively does the right golf movements but doesn't realize he is doing them. He is instructing his body to do one thing but carrying out a completely different motion. Usually this confusion ends up in the type of "golf tip" that works one day and not the next. I hear people in this thread attempting the same thing Mr. Hunt is claiming to do, not what he is actually doing. Whether or not they unconsciously stumble onto the correct movement is anyone's guess. Maybe one day they do and the next they don't because what we really want to actually happen is not what they are instructing their body to do. A lot of tips work this way by tricking you into to doing something else unconsciously. So it works for a little while until your body stops being tricked into the unconscious movement.


What I am trying to say here is that forearm rotation (supination) results in a bowed palmar flexed wrist and the emphasis should be on the forearm rotation. If you truly only palmar flex you'll get a bowed wrist, but unfortunately the club face will still be wide open coming into the ball. Then you'll be forced to do a rapid rolling release which is what most people think of when you say "forearm rotation" (Phil Mickelson, Rory Mcilro and Rickie Fowler). If you use forearm supination early at P3, the clubface has now aligned to the path of the clubhead early AND the wrist is bowed. Now you have options. You can release flat, or with a slight closed intention or even with a slight square to open intention for a power fade. Because you are set before impact all of these releases are just micro adjustments, more of a feel than anything. This is nothing like a Phil, Rory and Rickie trying to time a huge rolling release to get a fade or draw. I only see this move in Hogan's later years post accident. It is very clear in that nice driver swing color video he made during the Shell match with Snead. The clubface is still 2 feet from the ball when the club face aligns to the path and the back of the wrist faces the ball. Now its all just rotate the body hard and release the hands flat with no roll.


For anyone still not clear on what I am saying, make a simulated golf grip with your left hand only (no club). Now point the back of your wrist facing up and away from you and place the tip of your thumb on the corner of the table. Keeping the thumb glued to that spot, rotate your forearm so the back of the wrist points to your left. Don't swing your arm; just rotate your forearm so your thumb tip spins on the table's corner. What you have just done is supination, but your wrist will now also be bowed (palmar flexed) and facing the target. Now do it again, but keep the back of your wrist pointed up and away while you merely bow the wrist. This is pure palmar flexion and is NOT what you want to do.


One other thing I would add is that, if you look at pictures of Hogan's impact position any time during his successful years, you will see the back of the left elbow facing the target. This is a left shoulder/upper arm in full internal rotation. This is another issue where Mr. Hunt is completely wrong as he talks about the elbow "dimple pointing" up when in every Hogan picture the dimple points dead right away from the target. If you simulate this full shoulder internal rotation and keep the back of elbow facing the target, you can now rotate the forearm (supination) as far as anatomically possible and never be able point the the back of the left wrist left of square. In other words, with a weak grip, you can supinate as hard and as far as you like, but you'll never go left unless you let your shoulder rotate too. I've never seen an impact photo of Hogan where his shoulder wasn't in full internal rotation with the back of the elbow facing the target and the dimple facing right. Hogan said he couldn't hit it left with his swing. True. From an upper arm held in that position, its physically impossible to rotate the left forearm beyond square. A snap hook is physically impossible.


I teach my students to stand at address with the left arm out pretending to grip an imaginary club at address, left wrist slightly cupped like Hogan. Now bring the left arm to the right across the body and rotate the whole arm and forearm clockwise as fra as you can. The left arm should now point at the right foot and the back of the left elbow towards the target. Now reach over with your right hand and grip your left elbow so it can't de-rotate. Tuck your right elbow into your extreme right belly (forming the magic triangle.) Now do the twist move that supinates the forearm and bows the wrist as discussed above. That left thumb stays in one spot during the move. I tell students merely to turn the inside of the wrist until it faces up as much as physically possible. You can also think of turning the back of the wrist down. Do NOT allow the left elbow to de-rotate. Once you have that move down, all that is left is do it while keeping the left bicep glued to the chest and rotating the whole torso towards the target. There is no timing in this move. You do all of it before impact until everything is locked out, then just keep turning the torso hard and let the club release fully through the ball. A little "intention" to lead with the toe or heel post-impact will get you a fade or draw.


OK now you can laugh at me for writing a book when all you wanted was a concise post.

post #12 of 28
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by Kinesiogolfer View Post

What I am trying to say here is that forearm rotation (supination) results in a bowed palmar flexed wrist and the emphasis should be on the forearm rotation. If you truly only palmar flex you'll get a bowed wrist, but unfortunately the club face will still be wide open coming into the ball. 


I disagree. I think that in saying you "truly only palmar flex" you're also forced to throw your hands out.


Quick video to show what I mean (will be uploading for a few minutes):

post #13 of 28

If you just palmar flex then you're not at impact (like @iacas demonstrated), the shaft is close to parallel to the ground and well inside the hands. Face would be closed to the path, not open.

post #14 of 28

Hmm, an interesting therad bump.


I still think Hogan misused the word "supinate" in his book.  Yes, forearm supination occurs as well, but it occurs naturally throughout the downswing.  If it didn't occur, the butt of the club would still be pointing down the target line until shortly before impact.  Hogan clearly supinates the left forarm so that the butt of the club is pointing nearer to his left hip as the hands approach the ball. 


So if you look at what the book actually said "The left wrist begins to supinate at impact. The raised wrist bone points to the target."  He can't be only talking about forearm supination there.  Clealy he means that this is when the bowing of the wrist occurs. The forearm supination has already been going on.


Now I would agree that this bowing is actually caused (at least partly) by the continued supination of the forearm. What happens at this point is that the right hand arm and grip naturally begin to provide resistance at this point.  If the right elbow is tucked in near the chest, you will find that continued left forearm supination actually causes pressure precisely on the pressure points Hogan describes on the right hand "the two middle fingers apply most of the pressure" (with the illustration indicating the bottom of the fingers near the palm). 


If the right arm just went along with continued left forearm supination, and released too early, the clubhead would no longer be on plane, it would point too much downward and to the left, and the right hand would lose both power potential and control of the club.  If the right hand holds this resisance too long, the release doesn't occur, you lose power, and you put more strain on the left wrist. The natural thing for the right hand to do is to release the tension that has been created by firing through impact.  I think the feel for the golfer is of keeping the right arm relatively passive until late (creating this tension), then firing it through impact. 


Also not sure there isn't a bit of left wrist turn as well, in addition to that caused by forearm supination, just to allow for a smoother release. Only a very small amount is possible, but it's there.  Maybe this is what Hogan meant by wrist supination, but I still don't think that's quite correct, as you could do this even with the wrist cupped. I think he clearly meant it was important that it bowed.

post #15 of 28

This is a great discussion. Several points about the video. My entries were partially trying to get at this very point: whether you palmar flex or not has nothing to do with club face alignment-at least if you have a very weak grip with the face and the back of the wrist aligned. The club face will continue to face the direction of the back of the wrist no matter what manipulation you do. If you perform palmar flexion in various ways you may get different face alignment but this is because you are also causing either the forearm to pronate/supinate or are allowing the shoulder joint/upper arm to rotate. If the club face changes the direction it faces, then by definition so did the back of the wrist. And if the back of the wrist changed the direction it faces then one either supinated/pronated, rotated the humerus at the shoulder joint, or rotated the whole body. These are the only ways you have for changing the direction your wrist faces. For instance, when you palmar flex by also pushing the grip forward and away as you do in the video, this automatically causes internally rotation at the shoulder or pronation or both. The way to tell is if the dimple of the elbow points in a different direction or if the alignment/relationship between the wrist and the elbow changes. If either of these happens then that is the cause of the club face change.


My point was that there ARE several ways to palmar flex (just as you said), and BUT each of these different ways combines some other movement with it. You can palmar flex and supinate, you can palmar flex and internally rotate the shoulder joint/upper arm (as you do in a demo), you can palmar flex and supinate and externally rotate the arm together (which many pros do-Phil, Rory and Rickie) or you can even palmar flex and pronate (which it looks like you do in one of the demos). If you follow what happens to the elbow dimple, the inside face of the wrist and the relationship between the two then it is possible to determine what is really happening. If the elbow dimple changes where it points then you have rotated at the shoulder joint and this will also effect where the wrist and club face now face. If you look at the relationship of the elbow dimple and the inside wrist face and if the angle between them changes during movement, then you have either supinated or pronated by definition. What happens in most swings is that the elbow dimple and inside wrist face are about 90 degrees out of plane coming into P3 delivery. This is mid-range between supinated and pronated. Then by impact, at least in Hogans' case, the elbow dimple and the wrist face are now almost in the same plane. This is fully supinated.


I'd like to see your video again but with the elbow fully visible as well as the wrist. I think you are totally correct though. HOW you palmar flex has everything to do with where the club face points. When I say "how," I mean what other movements one is doing without being aware of it. Its my experience that actually knowing clearly what these other movements are is important if you really want to "Own Your Swing" and have it be consistent. I think one reason golf is so difficult to play and to teach is because until recently no one has been very precise about describing movements. Different students will all do the same movement a teacher asks for, but each one will add in on their own some other movements that were not asked for. Teachers say ridiculous things like "rotate your wrist into impact." Do they mean externally rotate the shoulder? Supinate the forearm? Both? Do they mean actually try to create rotational motion at the wrist which has almost range of motion to do that? And does that teacher even know the difference and can he recognize the different ways that different students are carrying out his instruction?


Also, by knowing what motions are really happening it can sometimes be possible to figure out which is the chicken or the egg. For instance, the muscles that palmar flex don't really have much power to supinate. However, the muscles that supinate when exerted against club shaft resistance do bring about palmar flexion secondarily. Who knows what Hogan really did, but it seems to me that if you want the wrist to face the target and you want a palmar flexed wrist to occur with it, then using the muscles that supinate will get you there while using muscles to palmar flex will not.


By being clear about anatomy and kinesiology it is very possible to describe the movements and their order in Hogan's swing. I'll admit though that this still will not tell us exactly how he got it done...which movements were intentional and which were mere vapor trails, secondary things that happened as a result of something else.


As to the whole supination thing in 5 Lessons, clearly it is messed up. Some of the drawings show a rolling release that Hogan obviously did not do, and as Acerimusdux pointed out, on video he clearly starts supination long before impact but then says its at impact. Is he mixing up terms? Is he talking about intent rather than what actually happened? Did Ravielli just not get it right? Did Hogan not clearly know everything he was doing? Was he telling us what he thought would work best for his readers? What he purposely misleading? Perhaps like his Ed Sullivan demo, his swing thoughts were really simple and most of the motions we analyze just happened secondarily to a few basic key movements. I like this idea that Acerimusdux has that there is a dynamic at play. There are intentional forces, opposing forces within the body between right and left hands and then of course the body acting on a club that resists our efforts.


Sorry way to long again!

post #16 of 28
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by Kinesiogolfer View Post

I'd like to see your video again but with the elbow fully visible as well as the wrist. I think you are totally correct though. HOW you palmar flex has everything to do with where the club face points.


I'll admit to seeing a wall of text and skimming it, and only really seeing this.


When I "only palmar flex" the clubhead moves well back because ONLY my wrist is moving. That's what you said, and why I disagreed with your earlier post. Palmar flexion alone - without lifting the arm at the shoulder joint or doing anything else, but JUST palmar flexion, moves the clubhead well back of impact.

post #17 of 28

Originally Posted by Kinesiogolfer View Post


Is he mixing up terms? Is he talking about intent rather than what actually happened? Did Ravielli just not get it right? Did Hogan not clearly know everything he was doing? Was he telling us what he thought would work best for his readers? What he purposely misleading? Perhaps like his Ed Sullivan demo, his swing thoughts were really simple and most of the motions we analyze just happened secondarily to a few basic key movements.



I'm convinced he was trying to describe what he really does in his actual swing, and in general I think he did a very good job of that.  Possibly some of the illustrations aren't exact, but they look pretty close to me.  As for "supination", I think like a lot of people he probably wouldn't know the technically correct medical term there. He clearly is making a distinction though between supination of the forearm, and supination of the wrist.  It seems apparent to me that his understanding of "pronation" was that the back of the hand points upward, and "supination" that  the back of the hand points downward.  In context, from both the text and the illustrations, I think that it is clear that this is all he meant by "supination of the wrist" before impact (and that "palmar flexion" might have been the more anatomically correct term to use").  


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 other part of the hand.  When the left wrist is in this position, the left hand will not check or interrupt the speed with which your clubhead is traveling. There's no danger either that the right hand will overpower the left and twist the club over. I't can't. As far as applying power goes, I wish I had three right hands!


Every good golfer has his left wrist in this supinating position at impact. Every poor golfer does the exact reverse. As his club comes into the ball, he starts to pronate the left wrist--to turn it so that the palm will be facing down.  


  When a golfer's left wrist begins to pronate just before impact, it changes his arc: it shortens it drastically and makes the pitch of his upswing altogether too steep and constricted. At the very point in his swing where he should be increasing the speed of his hands, by pronating he slows them down. Intead of accelerating and picking up speed on the way down and having great speed at impact, he has expended all of his speed before he hits the ball...     




Supinating, on the other hand, sets up a number of extremely desirable actions. It helps the player to develop a properly wide forward arc.  It puts him in a position where his arms are well extended at impact and will be fully extended just after impact as they swing out toward his objective. The wider his arc, the more room he has in which to build up clubhead speed, the prime factor behind distance.


Supination builds disatance and accuracy in other ways. For one thing, it helps you to strike the ball absolutely clean, before the club takes turf.  (This is why when you see a good pro hit a ball, there is a real sweet crack at contact and the ball takes off like a bullet. If you first contact the ball right, then almost automatically you'll take turf right, past the ball.)  Second, since this slight supination action places the hands a shade ahead of the clubhead at contact, some loft is subtacted from the face of the club...  


Accompanying these decriptions is an illustration showing first the incorrect position (wrist cupped just before impact) and the correct position (wrist bowed just before impact).  He's not talking about the forearm here, he's talking about the position of the wrist and hand.

post #18 of 28

Well, I have to say after re-reading all of this that he is misusing the term supination to refer to palmar flexion. I have always wanted to argue that there was some truth to his use of "supination" since supination can lead to the palmar flexed wrist if done in a certain way as discussed in my overly verbose texts before. However it is clear that in his mind he thought of a bowed wrist as "supination." Thanks for taking the time to write all of those quotes out.


I'll admit that some of the advantages he claims for the bowed wrist I still can't understand...such as the added width and especially the idea that this position prevents the right hand from twisting the club over. If I could understand that, I think it would be key to understanding his ideas about how he is creating and using bowed left wrist.


One thing I find interesting is looking at some of the video out there of Hogan doing slow motion swings, not slowed down video, but him imitating his swing in slow motion  (the Coleman footage and the Cano footage of a clinic I think.) One thing that has always struck me is how this bowed wrist idea is not very apparent, certainly not to the extent that he shows in the book. This really puzzles me. If it is as big a deal as he points out in 5 Lessons, why do his slow motion swings not emphasize it at all? Is it because it was something he "let happen" in a dynamic swing but not something he actually forced to happen?


There are a lot of beautiful things seen in his real swing that don't come out in his slow motion swing. He uses his hips and legs very differently for one. The hand and wrist motion is different. It makes me think a lot of what he did came unconsciously. Perhaps he couldn't accurately imitate his own swing because he didn't really know what he was doing. I know everyone is in awe that he really "owned his swing" and was a genius when it came to understanding the swing. Maybe this really wasn't as true as people have built it up to be? True, a lot of things will happen differently in a high force dynamic swing, but still if you really know what you are doing you can mimic the positions in slow motion practice. He clearly doesn't.

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