Ben Hogan’s Secret and How it Will Help You

This past year we recognized Rory McIlroy as one of the best golfers in the world. He won a test open to thousands of entrants but with just over 100 actually qualifying to be called the best, the winner of the United States Open, this year played at Congressional outside Washington, DC.  Based on Ben Hogan’s legendary US Open performances especially in 1950 after an absence of 16 months to recuperate from a near-fatal bus/car crash to win the Open at Merion; he is my choice as best ball-striker ever.

He built his career on a single minded determination to master the game.  He overcame the worst of childhood memories, his father’s suicide. He mended from an automobile – Greyhound bus collision, living with the constant reminder each time he soaked and then bandaged his body to take on all comers in a 72 hole battle that must be accomplished walking. As if that wasn’t enough, he served in WWII, overcame a duck hook, and went from flat broke to comfortably wealthy.

Arguably he best golfing performance occurred in 1953; winning the Masters, the US Open, and the British Open at Carnouste. It earned him the New York ticker tape parade through the City’s corridor of champions. Many believed that he had a “secret” that enabled him to actually make a golf ball behave in public. He revealed his “secret” in the August 8, 1955 issue of Life Magazine. Since that time there have been hundreds of opinions that this really wasn’t Hogan’s secret and my only comment is you have to think that either Hogan was lying or he was ignorant, neither makes any sense.

I don’t believe that Ben Hogan didn’t know what he did or that he made up a story about his secret. He said in that Life Magazine article he found that by cupping his left wrist he could essentially open the clubface to the point that he couldn’t close the face fast enough to hit a hook. He Double Cocked his left wrist.

Perhaps we can all learn from Hogan and his “secret.” Opening the clubface enables the golfer to axially rotate the shaft through impact which maximizes the release and this ensures straightness under public pressure. Hogan did this to perfection in 1953 on the par 5 sixth hole at Carnouste. He drove the ball all four days between the out of bounds and the sand bunker (an area no wider than 30 feet). He won this British Open, the only one he ever entered, earning him a reverent Scottish nickname, “the wee iceman.”

Some of today’s touring professionals will open the clubface on the backswing. Some do it at the top like Hogan by cupping the left wrist. Some do it while starting the club down and some erroneously don’t do it at all.

If it was good enough for Hogan, it just might be good enough for you and me!

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