Mr. Hogan and Pitch Shots
Thank you all for the feedback and suggestions for topics I should write about. What came through clearly is that you all have an affinity for the Ben Hogan stories, which I'm always willing to share... both ways... telling and hearing them. But what you also said is you wanted more practical advice and input on how to hit better golf shots and get more out of your rounds. So today, I'm going to do both.
Hopefully, most of you have had a chance to spend time with the wonderful coffee-table book, The Hogan Mystique. This beautiful work features dozens of black-and-white photographs taken by Jules Alexander — at the 1959 U.S. Open, I believe. It includes several fine essays by the likes of Ben Crenshaw and Dan Jenkins, but to me, the 'secret' of the book is Ken Venturi's insightful analysis of Mr. Hogan's swing and approach to the game. I assure you that spending time studying these photos and Venturi's commentary is a great learning experience.
One that has totally engaged me is a shot of Mr. Hogan hitting a soft little pitch from the rough, with Venturi's simple comment:
"Hogan, like most low hands players, was an excellent pitcher of the ball."In the photo, Hogan is coming into impact and his hands are quite a bit lower than they would have been in a full swing. He was noted as an extraordinary wedge player, so much so that his opponents nicknamed his wedge "the equalizer," a name which made its way onto Ben Hogan Company pitching wedges when that company began making golf clubs in 1954.
What Venturi was referring to can be observed on television every weekend. Watch these players around the greens — you will see them flex their knees more and get their hands very low to the ground at address, keeping them right at that same position throughout the swing, especially as they come through impact. Most even set their wedge lie angles 1-to-2° flatter than their other irons, to help promote this "low hands" approach. I suggest you pay attention to this technique this weekend. If you watch some golf on TV, go out and practice this.
I assure you that Mr. Hogan was ahead of his time, but every great player's short game is characterized by "low hands" around the greens.
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Torleif Sorenson says:
It's nice to know that I'm not the only golfer who wants wedge lie angles just a little flatter-than-standard! It seems to be the best way.
Haaaa, just kidding.
Great timing on this subject. During my winter workout plan, I discovered that my chipping and half-pitch results were more consistent and successful when I keep my hands low. As I am coming through impact, I try to keep my left hand as low as my left knee as I'm "chasing the ball down the line." After impact, I rotate my knees and hips a little to clear them out and it feels like I'm pulling my hands across my left knee. This has helped me to stop shanking and sculling the ball. Now, I need to work on not hitting too far behind the ball every now and then.
I can't say that I've noticed it, but it makes sense to me. Does anyone else have a chip/pitch that involves zero follow-through? I've done it since I was a kid, and not for every chip, maybe 5%, but when I hit it right they end up really good.
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