Do You Think You're Better Than Ben Hogan?
I figured that would get your attention this morning, but my premise is that almost all golfers apparently think they are better at precision shotmaking that Ben Hogan was. Stay with me here, because I really do have a point with this.

We are doing a lot of demo events for SCOR Golf and so we are talking with golfers about their scoring clubs, more particularly the lofts and selection they are equipping themselves with. As we talk with young guns who hit the ball a mile, the conversation gets really interesting. Here’s a case study.

In Corpus Christi, Texas last Saturday, I’m visiting with an aspiring developmental tour professional who is trying to make it playing professionally. In our discussion about his set make-up, he told me he carries 54 and 60 degree wedges, in addition to his set-match ‘P-club’. Moving along, he tells me he hits 7-iron 180 yards, and 9-iron 155-160. Wow. That’s long. So here was my point to him.

In Ben Hogan’s first book, Power Golf, which was published in 1948, Hogan dedicates a chapter to equipment. In that chapter he lists all his yardages with his clubs. What’s really interesting is that for each club, Hogan listed “Regular”, “Maximum” and “Minimum” yardages for each. His driver, he explained, “regularly” is 265, but he shows a maximum of 300, and a minimum of 235. To complement the driver, he then goes on to list 3- and 4-woods, and irons numbered one through nine, plus a pitching wedge and sand wedge. Hogan would remove a couple of those clubs for each tournament, depending on the course.

Where it gets interesting is that Hogan’s “regular” distance with his 5-iron is listed as 155 yards. Before you get all cranked up, realize that the loft and length of Hogan’s 5-iron in 1948 was very close to what most of today’s 7-irons are. But Hogan lists his “maximum” with his 5-iron at 180! In other words, he could add 25 yards to his “regular” 5-iron shots anytime he wanted to. Do you think that guy I just described could do that? Can he hit that 7-iron 205 if he wants? Or can any of you do that? That is, just crank up any of your irons to add 20-25 yards when you need it? Or do you pretty much consider a “regular” 7-iron to be what your maximum really is?

But it gets better, and this is where I’m going with the title of today’s post.

Hogan played courses of 6,500-7,000 yards in his day, and he had 7 clubs that he could use inside 155 yards. This aspiring tour player I was visiting with had THREE! His PW, 54 and 58. Hogan had 10-yard gaps in between his clubs – this guy (and most of his peers) have gaps of 20-25 yards in between their scoring clubs. Therefore, if they are going to score as well as Hogan did in that prime scoring range, they would have to be much more adept than he thought he would be at dissecting those gaps, wouldn’t they?

Well, they aren’t . . . nobody is. The point is that as golfers have gotten stronger, and equipment has gotten jacked up, and the ball has gotten hotter . . . your short range scoring has suffered because the between-club gaps are too big. But too many golfers are hung up on how many “wedges” they should carry. Don’t go there. It’s all about how precise you can be in your distance control when you are in prime scoring range.

If you can stay within 30-50 feet long or short at the long end of the set, that’s fine. But to score, you need pinpoint distance control at the short end. Hogan and all his peers knew that. So they throttled back their power with their irons, and put their sets together so that their “built-in” gaps would be manageable to 10-12 yards between clubs.

Unless you a better ball-striker than Ben Hogan, maybe you should do the same.
The Wedge Guy is sponsored by SCOR Golf, where Terry Koehler is President/CEO. He encourages you to submit your questions or topics to be considered for his columns on Tuesdays and Fridays. Each submission automatically enters you to win a SCOR4161 wedge to be given away monthly. Click the button below to submit your question or topic today.

[ comments ]
ally1957 says:
the guy that can put the ball anywhere on the fairway 240 260 yards will always have the advantage over the struggle for 200 yds golfer like myself. My course has a 600 yds par five with a large puddle in the middle its 2 hits to the ladies tee and the last half is cilmb uphill of about 200 feet I dream of reaching the the green in 7. a long hitter can reach it in 5. Accuracy round the greens may enable you to claw some of it back but that takes patience and then skill. the number of golfers that don't know how far the green is away and when asked can be as much as 30 yards off. whats that 2 shorts irons off? I'm getting better at it mainly due to my skycaddie. bit more practice needed I think but I'm getting there. But distance is still a quick way to low scores DISCUSS
srrave3golfer says:
nice sell! i built a green that is 104 yards myfavorite shots are with an 8 iron that checks after the hop. the touch is a feeling of sweetness. i hit my 61 degree wedge 100 yrds on a three quarter wedge shot when i am grooved into it. when i am off it always pays to club up and swing smoother and teach my self the proper back swing plane and clubface angle. shure a full swing would be longer but its easy to fall into bad habits that way it pays in satisfaction to be creative with your distance and shot selection. dogbonehills practice facility scottsdale AZ
el_pato_real says:
I will admit that I can fall into the habit of trying to hit my clubs to their max distance rather than my easy swing distance. The next time I play, I'm totally going to hit the range and get a feel for my "normal" distances with my irons. Then I'll try to see how that translates to the course. Good stuff, Terry!
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Terry Koehler is "The Wedge Guy" and President of SCOR Golf- The Short Game Company.

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