Hogan’s Fundamentals

ultimate judge of your swing“Practice doesn’t make perfect.  Perfect Practice makes perfect!”

Hogan believed that a solid, repeatable golf swing involved only a few essential elements, which, when performed correctly and in sequence, were the essence of the swing. 

Hogan BookHis book, Five Lessons: The Modern Fundamentals of Golf is perhaps the most widely read golf tutorial ever written, and the principles therein are still taught today.  In his book, Hogan breaks down the swing into four parts:  The Fundamentals, The Grip, Stance and Posture, the first part of the swing – the one-piece takeaway, and the second part of the swing – downswing.

Swing to IMPACT.

“The Fundamentals”

Hogan explains that the average golfer underestimates himself.  He believes that beginners place too much emphasis on the long game.  If you have a correct, powerful and repeating swing, then you can shoot in the 70s. “The average golfer is entirely capable of building a repeating swing and breaking 80.”[7]  Through years of trial and error, Ben has developed techniques that have proved themselves under various types of pressure.

“The Grip”

Hogan says, “Good golf begins with a good grip.”[7] Without a good grip, one cannot play to his or her potential.  The grip is important because it is the only direct physical contact you have ball via your golf club.  A bad grip can cause dipping of the hands at the top of the swing and a decrease in club head speed.  This can cause a loss of power and accuracy.  Also, the overlapping grip is the best technique because it allows the hands to act as one unit.

The following describes the perfect golf grip in the eyes of Mr. Hogan:

ben-hogan-left-hand-grip“With the back of your left hand facing the target, place the club in the left hand so that, 1) The shaft is pressed up under the muscular pad at the inside heel of the palm, and 2) The shaft also lies directly across the top joint of the forefinger”.[7]

“Crook the forefinger around the shaft and you will discover that you can lift the club and maintain a fairly firm grip on it by supporting it just with the muscles of that finger and the muscles of the pad of the palm.”[7]

“Now just close the left hand-close the fingers before you close the thumb-and the club will be just where it should be.”[7]

“To gain a real acquaintance with this preparatory guide to correct gripping, I would suggest practicing it five or 10 minutes a day for a week until it begins to become second nature.”[7]

Hogan grip right hand“To obtain the proper grip with the right hand, hold it somewhat extended, with the palm facing your target. Now-your left hand is already correctly affixed-place the club in your right hand so that the shaft lies across the top joint of the four finders and definitely below the palm.”[7]

“The right hand is a finger grip. The two fingers which should apply most of the pressure are the two middle fingers.”[7]

“Now with the club held firmly on the fingers of your right hand, simply fold your right hand over your left thumb.”[7]

“Stance and Posture”

The right stance not only allows for proper alignment, but also for a balanced swing, prepared usage of the proper muscles, and the maximum strength and control over your swing.  We align our body to the target only after we have aligned the club head to the target.

Hogan stance and posture

Hogan’s Ball Positioning and Stance depending on the club selection.

A proper stance starts with your feet being aligned at the target, followed by your knees, hips and shoulders.  Your feet should be shoulder width apart, your front foot should be slightly opened towards the target and your back foot should be perpendicular to the target.  As you increase in club, your stance should widen for further stability.  Your shoulders will be naturally open to the target line because your arms are not at equal length while holding the club.  Make sure to close your shoulders slightly to stay aligned with the target line.  The proper stance effects how controlled the backswing is, governs the amount of hip turn in the backswing, and allows for the hips to clear through the downswing.  Your front arm should be extended at all times to allow the club to travel in its maximum arc.

“The elbows should be tucked in, not stuck out from the body.  At address, the left elbow should point directly at the left hipbone and the right elbow should point directly at the right hipbone. Furthermore, there should be a sense of fixed jointness between the two forearms and the wrists, and it should be maintained throughout the swing.”[7]

“You should bend your knees from the thighs down.  As your knees bend, the upper part of the trunk remains normally erect, just as it does when you sit down in a chair. In golf, the sit-down motion is more like lowering yourself onto a spectator-sports-stick.  Think of the seat of the stick as being about two inches or so below your buttocks.”[7]

address position


“The first part of the Swing”

“The one-piece takeaway backswing”

Mr. Hogan advocates to use of a waggle not only because it helps you loosen your muscles, but also because it allows for your hands and arms to remember where to go for the first part of your backswing.  The angle of the swing should feel like you are swinging under a slanting plane of glass.  The “glass” has a hole for your head while it rests on your shoulders and touches the ground on top of your ball.  Also, the backswing should be slightly steeper than the downswing.  At the top of your backswing, your back should be facing the target.

Hogan one piece takeaway


The Hogan Backswing comparing the angle of the hips to the angle of the shoulders.  From left to right – the waggle, address, one-piece takeaway, toe up, at the “L”, and top of backswing.  Note: the takeaway is a coordinated one-piece-motion of the hands, wrists, arms and shoulders.

“On the backswing, the order of movement goes like this: hands, arms, shoulders, hips.”[7]

“Actually, the hands start the club head back a split second before the arms start back.  And the arms begin their movement a split second before the shoulders begin to turn.”[7]

“Just before your hands reach hip level, the shoulders, as they turn, automatically start pulling the hips around. As the hips begin to turn, they pull the left leg in to the right.”[7]

“When you have turned your shoulders all the way, your back should ace squarely toward your target.”[7]

When you finish your backswing, your chin should be hitting against the top of your left shoulder.”[7]

“As you begin the backswing, your must restrain your hips from moving until the turning of the shoulders starts to pull the hips around…It is this increased tension that unwinds the upper part of the body.  It unwinds the shoulder, the arms and the hands in that order, the correct order. It helps the swing so much it makes it almost automatic.”[7]

“If he executes his backswing properly, as his arms are approaching hip level, they should be parallel with the plane and they should remain parallel with the plane, just beneath the glass, till they reach the top of the backswing. At the top of his backswing, his left arm should be extended at the exact same angle (to the ball) as the glass.”[7]

“The Downswing”

Ben believes the second part of the swing, the downswing, is initiated by the hips starting to turn.  A baseball player throws a ball by transfers his weight and rotates his hips.  Then his shoulders and arm follow after.  Mr. Hogan thinks that the downswing is very similar to this action.  The downswing is at a slightly shallower angle and therefore the arms and hands should come from the inside-out on the downswing. The club head reaches its maximum speed, not at impact, but right after, when both arms are fully extended.


“At impact the back of the left hand faces toward your target.  The wrist bone is definitely raised.  It points to the target and, at the moment the ball is contacted, it is out in front, nearer to the target than any part of the hand.”[7]

Impact position“At impact the right arm is still bent slightly.”[7]

“At that point just beyond impact where both arms are straight and extended the club head reaches its maximum speed.”[7]

“The hips lead the shoulders all the way on the downswing.”[7]

The Five Lessons were initially released as a five-part series in Sports Illustrated magazine, beginning with the issue of March 11, 1957.[8]  It was compiled and printed in book form later that year and is currently in its 64th printing.  Even today it continues to maintain a place at or near the top of the Amazon.com golf book sales rankings. The book was co-authored by Herbert Warren Wind, and illustrated by artist Anthony Ravielli.

Copied from:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ben_Hogan

Ben Hogans’ Swing Sequence