Another Set of Eyes
Ever since the publication of Ben Hogan's second book, "Five Lessons – The Modern Fundamentals of Golf", there has been a running dialog about "Hogans' secret". Teachers and coaches and literary analysts have all weighed in with their opinions and "insight" into just what was the secret that Hogan supposedly took to his grave. If you enjoy a deep dive into the golf swing, and its pieces and parts, you can spend tons of hours reading almost 600,000 results from a Google search for "Hogan's Secret".

I've been a life-long fan of Mr. Hogan. His life, his accomplishments, his style, demeanor, his teachings on the game. And of course, the equipment that bore his name, especially that which was made before the company moved out of Fort Worth and broke the bond of having that fascinating, irascible man heavily involved in each and everything that bore his name.

But this is about Hogan's "secret", if there even was one. Here's my take, and I believe there were several keys to his success and prowess striking a golf ball.
  1. Mental tenacity. He experienced a childhood and young adulthood that was tough. And Hogan became equally tough because of it. I don't think anyone ever kept mental focus like "the Hawk".

  2. Work Ethic. Hogan practically invented the concept of practice. He was notorious for beating hundreds, thousands, of balls to work on a single little thing. He didn't quit until he had it perfected. And it is said that Hogan never attempted to hit a shot in competition that he hadn't practiced relentlessly on the range.

  3. Equipment. If you read about Hogan deeply, you'll learn that he was a headache for MacGregor and any other equipment company he represented. He demanded perfection from himself and would accept nothing less from his tools. The people that worked with him in those early years say he could feel things in a golf club they could hardly measure. And one anecdote has him in the locker room before an event examining a box of new balls with a magnifying glass. As he tossed a significant number of them away, he remarked to a questioner, "there's too much paint in some of the dimples on those." Wow.

  4. The left side pivot. Look up "Hogan's pivot" on YouTube and prepare to learn something about the golf swing. There are a number of videos that dive into this, but Hogan rotated his swing around his entire left side, NOT his sternum, as it so commonly taught today. It's pretty enlightening stuff.

  5. Release of the hands. Get a copy of "Five Lessons" and study, study, study the sequence of illustrations on page 102 of how the left hand rotates through impact. Then refer to the images on pages 98-99 on the release. Examine them until you are sure that you really understand this. Then learn his training exercise on pages 82-83. If you do this, and practice that drill, you WILL improve your ball striking immensely. And you can learn this in your home – no range or golf ball required.
So, did Hogan have a secret? Or a whole bunch of them? He shared with us everything he knew about the golf swing in his book, in my opinion. But you have to read between the lines, practice what he is talking about, and learn from there. The golf swing cannot be reduced to 125 pages, but this is a darn good foundation from which you can learn a better way to strike a golf ball.

Oh, and that secret? I think it was that he knew there were no shortcuts, no quick fixes. I like the explanation that he gave often:
"The secret is in the dirt, and every golfer has to dig it out for himself."
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.

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Terry Koehler is "The Wedge Guy" and President of SCOR Golf- The Short Game Company.

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