Swing Analysis: More Observations on Ben Hogan from the Face-On View

By Wayne | Videos: Swing Analysis

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(19) comments

Steve May 24, 2014

Thanks Wayne. This was cool to watch.

Michael May 24, 2014

Thanks for this Wayne. what an amazing swing.
I think that the reason you want the left wrist cupped at the top of the swing is because you can create more lag angle with a cupped wrist. That’s a simple experiment to prove – hold the club just in your left hand with normal grip and lay your arm on a table so you can measure the range of movement with wrist pronation and supernation by measuring the angle between left arm and club shaft.

The minimum angles that I can create between my straight left arm and the club shaft are:
Wrist bowed = 86 degrees
Wrist flat = 83 degrees
wrist cupped = 75 degrees – just a bit of cupping gives the better lag angle you don’t need to go max on the cupping

We can talk about ‘preferences’ but there are also bio-mechanical reasons for the success of a swing like Hogan’s. The smallest players creating the most power probably have the best biomechanics. Dustin Johnston has a bowed wrist at the top of his backswing. He’d probably hit the ball further with a cupped wrist but he is bigger and more athletic than most and he may not be able to find his ball if hits it further.

Cheers Mike

russ aragon May 25, 2014

Wayne what I find interesting is that your breakdown of,in this case, Hogans swing is spot on. The question is what it takes to put the pieces in place for ones swing, it’s seems to me the one thing what it would take to achieve the sequencing would be tempo. I would think it takes time for these actions to happen so for a player to try and sequence it would seem that the longer, or slower the backswing or coiling or gathering within reason, the better chance a player might have to achieve the flow of the golf swing. Unless a gifted player has a very fast reaction level. You may have addressed this already, if so please point me/ us there. If not can you go into depth of how great tempo is achieved for the great players so the sequencing is so consistent and powerful.

Thanks Russ

george layne May 25, 2014

I wonder why he had such a wide stance? Was it to increase the overall width of his swing or for balance or power or maybe all the above. That right foot slide is way cool. in Five Lessons he said he had wide stance because it freed his shoulders up and helped with balance but it sure doesn’t work that way for me.

Mark May 26, 2014

The weight transfer will differ in a stop and go vs.full-swing. I know what you mean though Russ. At first it feels like all your weight is being supported by the ball of you left foot. I’m a heal lifter…

John Neeson May 27, 2014

To Mike’s point, I believe that Hogan’s cupping of the left wrist and fanning open the clubface on the backswing was a feel and timing move which may not be of any use to others. What I have never understood is how he thought this was an anti-hook move, when he went from a cupped position at the top and in transition – to a supinated position at impact. This seems to be moving the clubface, (in relation to the swing path), from relatively open to more closed. How did this prevent him hooking?

When he talked about ‘shortening’ his backswing, I think he was referring to the amount of shoulder turn and arm run-off he probably had as a younger man. Just look at any skinny 15 yo swing who has not been coached. When younger, he was whippet-thin and I am guessing his shoulder turn was beyond 90 deg. If you look at this clip he is only at 90 deg of shoulder turn while appearing to flog the driver at full power. His arm swing is in synch and there is minimal run-off. The length of his backswing, (read clubhead position), is mainly coming from the flexibility and cup of his wrists.

Therefore, I posit that Hogan tightened his swing length and shoulder turn to gain control and compensated by developing the cupped wrist in order to maintain feel and timing. When he put these two together, he found a great combination of control and timing which enabled him to play more consistently. As one who has tried to shorten a naturally long swing, I always struggled to time the ball even though I could consciously swing shorter. (Having said that, Hogan swung on plane, whereas I was guilty of lifting my arms).

Now this might be just a load of bollocks but there it is…my latest theory was that Hogan adopted this cupped position to maintain his timing of a shortened arm swing. It had nothing to do with hooking or not hooking. He could hit it both ways at will.

Mark May 27, 2014

Russ. Hogan stated that heal lift (I said heal) was largely irrelevant (bellow an inch). However, he also remarked how important it was to maintain the level of the knees, something that is very difficult for most people to do without lifting the heal. Have you seen Wayne’s video on the lost art of the heal lift?

Hogan believed there would be huge advances (he compared it to medical advances) in our understanding of the golf swing. Personally, I think he was being a bit over optimistic. 60 years on and we’re still studying cheap PDF’s for an answer.

John Neeson May 28, 2014

Interesting – but not a patch on that other famous PDF – Encyclopedia Texarkana – which is probably the greatest piece of golf instruction never published.

Jack May 28, 2014

Call me a simpleton, but I see no reason to engage in great debate here. How about just a “thank you” to Wayne for posting this?

The grid behind Hogan here really helps a lot. Also important, for me, is Wayne pointing out how bent his right arm is at impact and even after the ball is away – not completely straightening until into the follow through. That’s something I can say I have never experienced in any attempt at a golf swing that I have ever made. This makes me realize that I’ve been flipping at the ball my whole life. Wow. Double wow.

This helps illuminate for me “how” the clubhead and clubshaft are getting around to the left after impact rather than scooping out to the right or “chasing” down the ball target line – again flaws that I’ve been engaging in my whole life. But then, that’s what I get for reading too many commentaries about how great players “keep the clubhead going down the target line longer” than the rest of us. Hogan turns that on its head.

Lots more to think about, but first and foremost, thanks again Wayne!

John Neeson May 28, 2014

Good point and illustrates how the upper body needs to be more open and over the ball at impact compared to address, otherwise it would be difficult to strike the ball will a bent and packed right arm.

    Jack May 29, 2014

    Now if only I could get my club to go left like that and not hit the ball with a glancing blow on the toe.

John Neeson May 30, 2014

Spot on WD. This is a fairly arcane area of discussion but goes to the heart of the two release types. The standup, back out, stall and flip release, versus the hard rotation, swing left, hands in clubhead out release. I recently saw a wonderful video with some rare DTL footage of many great ballstrikers: Hogan, Snead, Venturi, Souchak, Burke, etc and they all had this second kind of release. They were compared to Tommy Aaron who had a stand-up and flip release. (Almost a carbon copy of those exaggerated poses which Hardy does in his Plane Truth book to make two-planers look like freaks).
Very compelling stuff to convince one that the body release / swing left action is the one to aspire to. (Jack, you might want to look at where your head is…from DTL, you may well be backing out of your posture and standing up, which almost universally common in 2-planers).

    Jack May 30, 2014

    John N., your intuition is correct. Initial video shows my head moves away from the ball and upward on the backswing, and then moves away from the ball still more on the through swing. Hitting it on the toe is the fairly obvious result of my belt buckle moving toward the ball and upper body/head backing away from the ball – hands much higher (more vertical) at impact than compared to address. The poor backing out body move practically forces me to flip at it (and really reach out/extend my hands to the ball in the release) because of the fear that I’m going to hit it on the toe. And then I hit it on the toe anyway!

    Disgusting to watch it on video.

    Part of the problem is mental. My brain keeps equating swinging to the left as making it MORE likely that I’ll hit it on the toe, when probably the opposite is true. Probably need to do about a thousand punch drills to get my brain to stop thinking that.

    Perhaps I should also let my left heel come up quite a bit more in the pivot as well, as that seems to be at least one way that allows my head to stay toward the ball in the backswing.

    My task will then be how to keep my head in the box in the 45 drive-left-move long enough so that I don’t back out of it prior to impact.

    Now that I understand that it’s good to keep the right elbow bent when striking the ball, perhaps that will get me over the hump of my mental block.

    Another thought is that the bent right elbow at impact will take away the fear of hitting it fat while maintaing/gaining posture in the first half of the through swing. I’m starting to feel like that is a bit of an epiphany. My attempts to maintain/gain posture in the through swing have often resulted in massively fat shots in the past. Is that because I’ve been throwing/flipping the club head via right elbow straightening (due to the habit formed by my old swing)?

    Neural networks sure are difficult to unwire and reprogram.

John Neeson June 2, 2014

Sounds like we’ve both had similar patterns. I too have experienced fat shots when consciously trying to maintain my posture or ‘overness’ at the strike. I am pretty sure in my case, this is because my legacy release pattern was / is the familiar throw release + swing DTL + early extension + consciously rolling the wrists. These all go together although it is sometimes difficult to know the cart from the horse.
WD has good drills for this but I stumbled upon a similar thing called a 9 to 3 drill. This entails hitting wedge only using fully cocked position when left arm is at 09:00 o’clock and swinging through to right arm at 03:00. The key is to maintain the right wrist set and try to hold it on through without ‘releasing’ it. The only way you can hit the ball at all is by rotating the core aggressively and turing the right shoulder right through without stalling. I filmed myself doing this and the results are amazing. It is the only time in 30 yrs where my swing has looked noticably different. I swing more to the left, my shoulders are open at the strike and I even ‘plane’ the shaft at impact, compared to my normal high approach. The next challenge is to transfer this to a fuller swing with longer clubs. Then I will be ready to send WD my latest swing. This is a long and hard road but I am determined to have a few years of pure ball striking before I hang up my niblick.

russ aragon June 2, 2014

WD it amazes me how much Hogans right shoulder is inside his right foot at address. This seems to be the only way to keep the weight on the inside of his right foot without the right knee swaying to the outside of his right foot.

John Neeson June 2, 2014

This is where faith and discipline comes in. If you can’t hit 100 sand wedges in a row perfectly with such a drill, there is no point in even attempting to hit a five iron, let alone a driver. Like you, I tend to be a stubborn and impatient type and I am always trying the longer clubs but the physical effort needed to hit a longer club will always force your body back into the old patterns. The brain’s number one priority is balance.
All I am trying to do is perfect the action in the ‘impact zone’ and then build it out from there. But it’s a long process, but I am starting to sense the correct actions and feels seeping into my long game. I too was skeptical about using drills but I do believe they work providing (a) you find the right ones – or one, to correct your key faults (not always easy) and (b) you dedicate yourself to stick with it until it is embedded. Could be months just hitting half wedges every day. There are no shortcuts or quick fixes.

george layne June 3, 2014

I mentioned the wide stance and why Hogan did it. I think you are on to something when you brought up the idea of his right foot being outside his right shoulder. It makes it easier to right load while keeping weight on inside of right foot. Maintains that good right leg angle that is set up at address.

george layne July 8, 2014

That is good stuff about getting the aim and ball position settled first and then position the right leg. Wide is good because I can post up on the right leg better without drifting my weight outside my right foot. A better pivot. My swing is kind of short anyway because I’m not too flexible so it feels like the time spent on my right pivot is brief compared with the sudden weight shift to the left foot and leg. My tempo and rhythm is much better doing it this way and my power, accuracy and consistency of solid shots is way, way up.

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