Ben Hogan's Biomechanics
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continual series of books offering "Hogan's Secret." It seems each new book claims to have deciphered to mystery
of Hogan's real secret. I believe people in general want to believe that there was just one secret, one simple
secret, that made Hogan's success possible. It is a nice story and would mean that each and everyone of us can
find that simple secret. It also means we could all share in his success. Wow, what a dream if it was just that
simple!! The fact is it took Hogan over 15 years of hard work to develop his game. He had 10 straight losing
years. Each year he was financially supported so that he could continue the journey. So, I suggest that there is
much more to it than just one secret.
Hogan said that he found his answers in the dirt. He also said that all the answers were in Five Lessons The
Modern Fundamentals of Golf. I believe he did find the answers in the dirt. And I believe he thought he had all the
physical answers in Five Lessons, at least at the time he wrote it. Nevertheless many people say that Hogan held
something back, and that something is the real secret. The argue he kept it secret because it game him the
competitive edge while he played in competitions. If he kept it for competitiveness then there would be a good
probability that he would have revealed more of this secret after his career. Of course, you can argue that he had
other reasons to keep it a secret. Then one might wonder, why he would take the secret to his grave. It seems
doing so would be very selfish and would hurt the game of golf. Revealing it would exceptionally help the game.
Now, it can be argued that sharing such a secret to a population of golfers that are generally lazy and looking for
the quick fix and quick answer would be a waste of time. Maybe the secret takes time and energy to bring it to life.
Maybe the secret is that a lot of things need to come together in order to make the whole thing system work its'
magic. Maybe only those that are willing to commit the time and effort it takes apply the secret desire the secret.
On top of all that, maybe there are a set of secrets as compared to one secret!
In Focus On Golf - Creating the Golfer's Edge I wrote, "In golf, people often like to talk about Hogan’s Secret. They
talk about it as if Ben Hogan had one little piece of knowledge that was the secret to the game. If he had one piece
of knowledge it was that he knew he needed the whole package, and he set out to satisfy that package in much the
same way as I’ve described “Creating The Golfer’s Edge.” So, if you want to leave your own modest legacy to the
game, if you want to experience a type of mastery that other golfers look up too, or if you simply want to
consistently play your best golf, then I suggest you get committed whole-heartedly to the process of Focusing On
Golf in such a way that you “Create The Golfer’s Edge.”
Indeed, I believe Hogan had a total package. This package involved physical, mental, and inner attributes. I
contend that one of the things that brought his physical game into full form was the fact that the swing he
eventually settled on fit his unique body mechanics. Additionally, He discovered applications that enabled him to
execute his skills in a manner that satisfied his concept of the best way to plan the game. I believe that part of what
made Hogan's package so effective is that Hogan found, in the dirt, by chance, or by design, components that fit
his body type. This means he eventually develop a biomechanical package that was customized for his unique
body type. In Five Lessons Hogan describes aspects of the swing that he believes are ideal. For example, Hogan
described the imaginary plane, depicted by the sheet of glass, as being the perfect swing plane. However, he
determined that swinging under that plane during the backstroke and even more shallow in the down stroke was
the best swing plane pattern for his needs. A few times in the book Hogan describes how makes personal
adjustments away from the ideal. At one point in the Five Lessons he writes, "I regard both of these changes as
personal modifications or adjustments. That is, they were beneficial for me and I would advocate them as sound
measures for golfers with the same natural swing pattern and hitting action as myself. Let me make it clear,
though, that I took upon them only as adjustments and not as fundamentals. The truly fortunate golfer is the player
who needs to make the smallest number of adjustments.” This gives us some insight into the mind of Hogan. With
this in mind I believe Hogan was striving to provide a general picture of the fundamentals so that the golf
community as a whole would benefit from his book. It is clear that he recognized that the swings of other great
golfers worked for their purposes, and it is clear that Hogan wrote to golfers he believe would benefit from his
knowledge. Therefore he organized it only for those that fit the model he was presenting. He recognized that there
were other valid models and he recognized that even those that fit the model he was presenting might have to
customize the final package they develop. In his words, they may need to make "personal modifications or
adjustments." In this light, he secret, or secrets, would only be valid for those that fit the model.
I have organized the Power-of-Three Golf Biomechanics information specifically for customizing the components of
the swing to each individual's unique needs. In doing so that provide the Secrets of Owning Your Swing to each
and every golfer. A series of Power-of-Three Golf books are being published to explain these secrets in detail. In
the stage three section of this website you will find these secrets outlined. In the first Power-of-Three golf book a
whole chapter is dedicated to Ben Hogan's swing and its' biomechanical make-up. At the bottom of this page you
will be able to click on links that will briefly touch upon some of the concepts introduced in that chapter.
For now I would like you to consider that Hogan truly did own a package, and that package included certain
biomechanical features that fit his body type. Since thorough biomehcanical information was lacking as Hogan
developed his game he found his "answers in the dirt." This may seem like a novel idea, however, more and more
golf enthusiasts are starting to believe it. A book was recently published called The Final Missing Piece of Ben
Hogan's Secret Puzzle, by V.J. Trolio. The fact the title uses the term Secret Puzzle suggests that there are a set
of pieces to the puzzle. The book suggests that Hogan described all the pieces of the puzzle in Five Lessons,
however, the manner in which Hogan's pivot developed is missing piece of the secret. Hogan spent consider time
describing the pivot action, and I believe he did so in a way that had general application as compared to
customized application. In this light, Hogan made personal modifications to his pivot that were adjustments from his
perceived ideal. In Hogan's case, he made a personal modification that allowed him to customized his pivot for his
unique biomechanical needs.
For over 20 years I have been teaching golfers the value of body mechanics. And I have organized a
biomechanical model with 12 features, each of which have 3 options. These features are explained in the Stage
Three section of this website. One of the 12 biomechanical features is what I call the golfers "SWING ANCHOR."
There are 3 swing anchor options and they are Front Anchor, Center Anchor, and Rear Anchor. For the right
handed golfer the Front Anchor option involves pivoting around the left leg and hip joint. For over 20 years I have
been encouraging golfers that own Left Anchor attributes to use a Left Anchor pivot point, and I have been using
Hogan's Swing as a model that confirms the validity of Left Anchor golf. In The Final Missing Piece of Ben Hogan's
Secret Puzzle, V.J. Trolio makes an argument that can be viewed as confirming these considerations. The book
introduces a story I have heard many times. The story tells how Hogan had a dream while laying in his hospital bed
and the dream involved seeing the swing of an old Scottish Pro who rotated around his left-side. Hogan believed
this to be an fundamentally acceptable pivot action and set out to employ it once he recovered from his accident.
V.J. Trolio's book describes this attribute of Hogan's swing as the final missing piece. I agree it was an integral
piece of Hogan's biomechanical package, and being so was one of the secrets to Hogan's swing. However, is it a
secret that all golfers can use. I believe not. In my opinion it will only be only of your secrets if your body is built to
use a left anchor technique more efficiently than both the center anchor and rear anchor options. With over twenty
years of experience helping golfers customize their swings with regard to the unique body mechanics that make up
their body type I have seen golfer after golfer fail to try and incorporate the pieces of Hogan's secret puzzle. Only
those golfers that are built to use it truly benefit from Hogan's model.
In my experience only 33% of the golfing population benefit from incorporating left anchor techniques, 33% benefit
technique successfully (winning The Masters with it) and then switched to a front anchor technique and has
struggled with it significantly. Conversely, David Duval, Chip Beck, and Justin Leonard are all left anchor golfers
who switched to rear anchor techniques and struggled significant. Justin Leonard has since switched back to a left
anchor technique and once again won on the PGA Tour. David Duval is working on getting back to his old swing
with his old coach and is seeing some success once again (finishing 2nd in the 2009 US Open). Chip Beck is
continuing to use right anchor techniques and he continues to struggle.
So, the secrets of Hogan's total package are completely brought to light, the only thing we know about them is that
they worked for Hogan's unique needs. Others can benefit from them they have similar attributes to Hogan.
Remember how Hogan put it, "That is, they were beneficial for me and I would advocate them as sound measures
for golfers with the same natural swing pattern and hitting action as myself." Hogan clearly understood that he had
unique attributes that made his adjustments valid for his needs and for the needs of golfers with similar attributes.
The question becomes, "How do I determine if my attributes are similar to Hogan's or very different than Hogan's?"
This is where Power-of-Three Golf comes into play. The Power-of-Three Golf approach has organized methods of
testing each golfers body mechanics so they can determine which options fit their particular needs. if you are
interested in discovering more about this process study the Stage Three section of this website, purchase one of
the Power-of-Three Golf books, or sign-up for a Power-of-Three Golf workshop.
One last note about Hogan's action I want to cover is that Hogan used what I call a throw-swing action. In short,
golf action fall into 3 categories - Hitting, Throwing, and Swinging. I generally encourage golfers to use a swinging
action unless there are some physical limitations restricting them from doing so. If a golfer using an action besides
a pure swinging action I recommend they at least use the swinging action to deliver the stroke. What this means is
that the golfer employs a rotary action to delivery the swing through the impact interval. Hitting actions use thrust,
Throwing action use lateral weight shift, and Swinging action use rotation as their primary source. Once Hogan
committed to and implemented the concept of rotating around his left side he employed it during the forward
motion. Hogan set-up to the ball in what can be described as a neutral balance, then he used a lateral bump to his
right to start his swing. Once the lateral bump was completed Hogan rotated to the top of his backstroke while
recovering into a left anchor alignment. Recovering involved rectifying the lateral bump as well as achieve a top-
set position that was left of the neutral set-up. This recovery process has often been described as a reverse pivot,
and has also been used as proof that Hogan's action was a throwing action since it used lateral motion. However,
once Hogan achieves his left anchor alignments he simple posts up on his left leg and rotates around the left
anchor alignments. This means Hogan delivered his swing with a rotary, or swinging, action. With a lateral action
to start the swing and a rotary action to deliver the swing Hogan's action became a throw-swing action.
Before Hogan made these changes he had experimented and played with both throwing action and swing-throw
actions. It is critical when arguing Hogan techniques to understand when footage of his swing was taken. It is clear
that the older he got the closer he got to perfecting the action. Ken Venturi one mentioned that Hogan had the
type of swing that got better as Hogan got older. I believe this is true, and I believe it is true because the longer
you stay with your biomechanical secrets the more confidently you perform them.
Another consideration when studying Hogan footage is understand what he was trying to accomplish while the
footage was being taken. It is clear to me that when Hogan demonstrated what he thought golfers ought to do in
general he demonstrated variations that were different than his personal modifications. However when playing
shots in tournaments or for his own personal satisfaction Hogan performed his personal modifications. So keep an
open mind as you study Hogan footage.
As we continue to study Hogan's swing, his tendencies, and his secrets keep these observations in mind. Below
you I will write additional observations with regard to the Hogan Mystique. Simply click on the topics as they
become available. Please keep in mind this website is a work in progress, so I ask you to be patient. The topics
will be uploaded as soon as I can finish them.
Founder of the New Horizons Golf Approach
The following observation about Ben Hogan, his career, swing, and Mystique are written By EA Tischler.
Copyright 2009, all rights reserved.
Hogan Topic Three: Biomechanics of Power
Hogan Topic One: Biomechanical Overview
Hogan Topic Four: Biomechanics of Good Feel
Hogan Topic Two: Biomechanics of Accuracy
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