Book Review:Ben Hogan’s Five Lessons

 Ben Hogan, arguably the best ball striker ever to have played the game wrote this book to create a systematic method by which golfers could follow to help them improve. At the time I am sure he never thought this book would still be selling as well as it is in 2010.

This book really was the birth of the one plane golf swing (a method used by so many top players today) and OK, some of the concepts in this book have been found to be slightly technically incorrect, and what Hogan has written is different to his actual swing, but this book really will give you an clear and concise understanding of the most efficient way to swing the golf club.

I would recommend this book to anyone who has just started the game and wants to improve their knowledge of the basics of the golf swing. It is comforting for anyone to know that this book was written such a long time ago but it is still comfortably out-sells them all!

I would also recommend the book to anyone who is hooking the ball! Hogan’s bad shot was always a hook. He wrote this book from his personal experiences, many of the concepts in this book are slanting towards what he did with his swing to help cure his hook. If you are slicing the ball, it is probably best to stay away from this for the time being as some of the techniques discussed will not help to cure your slice. As Hank Haney (Tigers ex coach) said in his book “essentials of the swing”, Ben Hogan’s Five Lessons should have been called “How not to hook”.

The Five lessons that make up the book are as follows:

  1. The Grip
  2. Stance and Posture
  3. The First Part of the Swing
  4. The Second Part of the Swing
  5. Summary and Review

What Technical Issues in this Book have been questioned by modern day coaches?

There are a number of issues which are now seen to be technically incorrect that you should bare in mind when reading this book. It must be remembered that he wrote this book based on ‘feel’ and if you have ever seen your swing on video before, you are probably aware the ‘feel’ does not mean ‘real’! The introduction of swing analysis technology has made it far easier to see what is happening in the golf swing; Hogan didn’t have this luxury when writing this book, so he had to rely on putting what he ‘felt’ down onto paper as opposed to using cameras.

His description of the stance (opening for shorter clubs) is absolutely right; many pro’s have questioned this, but they are wrong. We will discuss the reasons behind this in a future post discussing swing plane and ball position. It is quite a complex subject, so I will write a separate post on this subject.

His description of the grip is great if you are hooking the ball, but if you are slicing it and adopt this grip, it will most probably get even worse! I like to see my students have their left hand grip (right handed golfer) a little bit more in the fingers and a little bit stronger (at least until they start to hook the ball).

From a golf fitness perspective, the one plane swing that Hogan used can be very difficult for many amateur golfers to learn due to the greater flexibility and athletic ability required to carry it out. So before attempting a one plane swing, bare this in mind. For more information on whether a one plane swing will suit you, I suggest you read “The Plane Truth For Golfers”.

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