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"Five Lessons: The Modern Fundamentals of Golf" by Ben Hogan


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A few things you should know about this book. What he wrote and what he did were not always the same. For example, the elbows being as close together at address as you can get them is not how he addressed the ball. His were comfortably relaxed.

The hip turn on page 91 is not how it's supposed to work, and not what he did. And yes, you CAN turn your hips too fast. But then Hogan said turn them as fast as you can because he had a lightning fast swing. Watch the Hogan-Snead match on the Wonderful World of Golf tape to see what I mean.

Everybody knows by now that Hogan built his into his swing everything he could to prevent himself from hitting left. If you already hit to the right, much of what's in Five Lessons , you don't want to do, starting with his grip. Hogan admits on page 60 that people whose "build or muscular arrangement" (and his flexibility) are different from his will execute the fundamentals differently. But his fundamentals are still true. You have to modify their expression to suit your physical characteristics and tendencies.

I would suggest that readers also track down a copy of David Leadbetter's book, The Fundamentals of Hogan , in which he interprets Hogan's instruction for a varied set of golfers. You will be able to see Hogan's broader points more clearly, and not get stuck so much on his specifics. Not to mention there are wonderful photographs in it which were the basis for Anthony Ravelli's drawings for Five Lessons .
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What Hogan did not emphasize enough, and you cannot see in his swing because it is felt and not seen, is the tremendous tension he developed at the top. When you have that kind of tension between your left heel and left hand at the top you can explosively turn your hips to start the downswing. It totally automates your downswing - perfect sequence, maximum lag, peak speed at impact, proper weight shift and secondary axis tilt. It works because you are abandoning manipulation to the laws of physics.

In "Extraordinary Golf" Fred Shoemaker shows us that something like this occurs when you give a group of new golfers a few dozen attempts at throwing a club at a target without a ball. Amazingly, videos of their swings mimic the downswing of a PGA tour pro.
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Just picked up this book yesterday and started reading it one more time, its amazing how much it contains. Started focusing on my grip again and can't wait to get out on the range to try out a few minor changes. This book is a must for anyone who wants to focus on making their swing better should own this one.
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I just got my hands on this book and Ben Hogan's Power Golf. I have already seen improvement from the first chapter from Five Lesson's. My grip is a lot more consistent now. Plan to work on each item and then continue reading the next one.
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  • 3 weeks later...
I was referring to his illustration of the balls lined up with his left heel and just varying the width of his stance.

I'm interested in the setup illustration on page 125, in particular the position of the right foot, other instructors suggest toes of right and left foot level and in line with the target, however this suggests short irons should be played with right toe forward of the left and as clubs get longer the right foot moves back to the point where with a driver it is a few inches behind the left!!!

I cant find anything in the book that discusses the reasoning behind this setup, any thoughts?
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I am finding the Mark O'Meara training grip, mimics the Hogan grip. Mark O'Meara was an ardent student of Five Lessons. The training grip takes a lot of the guesswork out of the descriptions from the book, and then the book just reinforces what you feel with the grip.
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I'm interested in the setup illustration on page 125, in particular the position of the right foot, other instructors suggest toes of right and left foot level and in line with the target, however this suggests short irons should be played with right toe forward of the left and as clubs get longer the right foot moves back to the point where with a driver it is a few inches behind the left!!!

This instruction is quite common in books written by pros who were active in the 1930s and 1940s. Hogan explains himself in the two paragraphs above the diagram. Johnny Revolta goes into more detail in his book,

Short Cuts to Better Golf . He says the right foot forward with short irons because "the feet are relatively close together, the ball is played nearer the feet, and most of the work is done by the hands and arms." The right foot is back with longer clubs because "the feet will be farther apart. The pivot will be greater." The right foot back also encourages an inside-out swing that creates a slight draw, counteracting a slice. That's his reasoning.
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This instruction is quite common in books written by pros who were active in the 1930s and 1940s. Hogan explains himself in the two paragraphs above the diagram. Johnny Revolta goes into more detail in his book,

All interesting stuff, right foot back encourages draw is certainly correct, if I move my RF well back it results in a snap hook, oh to find the happy medium and be able to repeat it at will.

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Has anyone figured out Hogan's Secret to the golf swing?

Great question.

I have given up on most golf instruction and experiment to find dynamics that automate the swing. Dynamics determine positions not the other way around. Most golf instructors do not understand the body and how it works. They teach by feel. This is the reason why golfers don’t get better. Golf is taught with the instructors feel and the student does not produce the same feel. They keep searching for it but most never get it. Hogan's focus on tension in Five lessons is a natural way to separate the upper and lower body so critical to automating the downswing sequence and preventing deceleration of the clubhead prior to impact. The golfer learns this fundamental easily and produces there own feel that they can reference. This leads to improvement. When people like Hogan describe their own golf swing you hardly ever hear of, much less can you SEE, their exertions. You cannot see which muscles they exert, their sequence, how they are in balance within their body and its distribution of mass. Most of all you can't know their mental process that controls or drives or commands impulses to generate the instantaneous actions they make. So teaching, analyzing, describing golf swings in terms only of the visible is simply insufficient, since what must be LEARNED are the exertions, their amounts, their relative importance one to another, their sequence, and their controls. All of which gets back to the necessity to provide images and to use them to give the intuition something to grasp. We need to thank Hogan for his contributions, his images, his struggles to explain that which is inexplicable.
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Has anyone figured out Hogan's Secret to the golf swing?

IMO, this is the 'secret'. It has little to do with positions of the rear knee or swing plane, but leg/body/arm sequence.

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IMO, this is the 'secret'. It has little to do with positions of the rear knee or swing plane, but leg/body/arm sequence.

Yes and what creates correct sequence ?

Maximum separation between the upper/lower body during transition ! Hogan's 'tension' in Five Lessons - stretched muscles that pull the shoulders, arm and club through in a crescendo of increasing acceleration. This insures NO deceleration can occur prior to impact. No flipping. Maximum shaft flex, clubhead lag and ball compression. If you MUST define a Hogan secret, it is maximum separation.
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