Hogan’s Alley

History of “Hogan’s Alley” from Wikipedia

Color hogan company     In 1948 alone, Ben Hogan won 10 tournaments, including the U.S. Open at Riviera Country Club, a course known as “Hogan’s Alley” because of his success there. His 8-under par score in the 1948 U.S. Open set a tournament record that was matched only by Jack Nicklaus in 1980, Hale Irwin in 1990, and Lee Janzen in 1993. It was not broken until Tiger Woods shot 12-under par in the tournament in 2000 (Jim Furyk also shot 8-under par in the 2003 U.S. Open, and Rory McIlroy set the current U.S. Open record with 16-under par in 2011).

     Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, a modern PGA Tour tournament venue, is also known as “Hogan’s Alley” and may have the better claim to the nickname as it was his home course after his retirement, and he was an active member of Colonial as well for many years.  The sixth hole at Carnoustie, a par five from the tee of which Hogan took a famously difficult line off during each of his rounds in the 1953 Open Championship, has also recently been renamed Hogan’s Alley.

The basic setup illustrated

address position

Ben Hogan at Impact

The illustration below of Ben Hogan at Impact can be found in his book entitled “BEN HOGAN’S FIVE LESSONS: The Modern Fundamentals of Golf.   The Impact Position is also known as “the moment of truth”.   It is the point at which the sequence of movements, from address to the finish produce the desired result.

Impact position

Ben Hogans’ Swing Sequence

The Hold Shot

TheHoldShotKen Venturi said this image was one of his favorites, when asked to provide commentary for the wonderful coffee table book, “The Hogan Mystique.” Venturi said this image showed him that Ben Hogan had just hit a “hold shot,” where he selected a club and a swing that would allow him to exactly fit the shot to the situation.

You can see a relaxed follow-through position. Mr. Hogan applied a precise “measurement” to the amount of force he wanted to apply to the shot to get exactly the trajectory and landing performance he determined the situation called for.

ExcerptFromPowerGolfBen Hogan revealed much about the way he played the game – particularly his iron shots – in his 1948 book, Power Golf.  In Chapter 2 of that classic, Mr. Hogan shared his yardage chart, from driver to sand wedge.

One of the things that stands out the most is that he showed his “regular” yardage with each iron as a distance that was 25 yards shorter than his “maximum.”

That measured and controlled approach to the game is probably why he achieved a legendary status for his greens-in-regulation performance.  In the 1960 U.S. Open at Cherry Hills Country Club in Denver, CO, Ben Hogan hit the first 34 greens in regulation on the Saturday 36-hole final, and had his wedge approach on the 35th hole not spun back off the green, he might well have hit all 36.

In the 1967 Masters, on Saturday . . . at the age of 56 . . . Ben Hogan shot 66, with a record-tying 30 on the back nine. What is remarkable about that round of golf is that he did it with 33 putts! In other words, Ben Hogan “beat the golf course” by three shots from tee to green. Probably the most amazing round of ball control in the history of the game.

Contrast that approach to the game with the power-first, all-out manner by which most modern players go at the ball and you can see one reason why today’s tour players average about 13 greens-in-regulation per round, a number that would probably have driven Ben Hogan back to the practice range for weeks.

The “hold shot” is a skill we should all try to achieve in our golf. It will lead to better ball-striking, more consistent distance control and lower scores. It sure worked for Ben Hogan.