Anyone who has spent any time studying the swing of Ben Hogan knows about the “secret” that he allegedly came up with in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s that he suggested turned him from an erratic hooker of the ball into a ball-striking machine. The problem is that Hogan never really revealed exactly what he meant, and if you talk to 20 people who know a bit about the subject you will get 20 opinions as to what it might have been. Well, since he is my favorite golfer and I base much of my teaching (and playing) on what I believe to be the inner workings of his swing technique I figure I might as well have a go at it myself.
The first thing to remember is that Hogan was a super intelligent, highly motivated golfer who practiced relentlessly and always thought about what he was doing, which means he was constantly adding, subtracting, changing and experimenting, just like any other normal golfer with a bag of balls in front of him on the driving range. If Hogan had a “secret” it was going to be a combination of a number of things that he figured out over time, and since he left it a mystery we can only surmise based on the videos swings that we use here as evidence. Having the moving video is of utmost importance. Most of the work available that discusses the possibilities of what the “secret” entailed uses still pictures as the evidence upon which conclusions are drawn, while here I use detailed analysis of his actual swings over time to show what I believe to be his unique method.
In my mind Hogan’s “secret” involved a pivot movement that deepened the hips during the swing, lowered him against the ground, and created space for the right arm to move in front of the right hip in the forward swing, an arm movement that sent the arms outward away from the body in a side-arm throwing motion, and a distinct “laying back” of the club against the right index finger which momentarily flattened the shaft to a position far above the original shaft plane, which enabled Hogan to steepen the shaft for the vast majority of the downswing without the club ever moving “over the top”. I know this sounds complex (and it is), but I think if you watch the video you will get the idea.