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Ben Hogan’s first (and most comprehensive) swing key

March 16, 2020

Are you looking to become a sensationally good golfer? As far as Ben Hogan’s concerned, your ability begins (and ends) with sensation.

Hogan’s first instruction article for Esquire in 1943 (adapted by ThinkingAboutGolf.com) shares his swing advice for high-handicappers to start swinging like the pros. The primary takeaway? Focus on feel.

“You can learn good golf if you use the sense of feel,” Hogan said. “The chances are that you now don’t recognize the sensation of a swing.”

In Hogan’s eyes, learning how to get the right sensation for a swing is as much mental as it is physical.

“When pros talk together about their instruction problems, almost invariably they refer to the first and most important step in teaching as that of getting the pupil to relax,” he said. “When you’re relaxed you believe that you’ll feel too acutely. Delicacy of feeling is what we want in golf; hence the high valuation pros place on relaxation.”

So now that you’ve relaxed yourself, what do you do next? Grab two belts.

“My method, amazingly effective with pupils I have supervised, is simply a method of buckling two belts,” Hogan said. “One around the pupils arms just above the elbows, and the other around the pupil’s legs just above the knees.”

From here, start swinging with the belts wrapped around your body. The key is to use the belts to help restrict the golf swing into the proper linear motion. The belts should train yourself the right sensation throughout the swing so when it comes to swinging without them, you’ve developed muscle memory.

“Your muscles are directed by these belts to perform until the body and arms reach the top of the backswing — the moment of ultimate tension, or the limit of the rubber-band stretch — and a change in direction must take place.” Hogan said. “Your muscles get the sensation of firmly setting you to hit the ball with freedom, speed, force and smoothness.”

So there you have it. How two belts, a few deep breaths and a couple of swings can get you swinging, as Hogan says, “Sensation-ally good.”

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