Ben Hogan is among the greatest golfers ever. “The Hawk”, as he was called, is known for his fierce determination and an iron will to win. He won 63 tournaments as a professional—despite serving in World War II and experiencing a near fatal automobile accident. He also completed golf’s grand slam in 1953—winning the Masters, U. S. Open, British Open, and PGA championship tournaments. Among the best ball-strikers ever, he is said to have had a “secret” to swinging a golf club with astonishing consistency.
Hogan left a different golf legacy besides his record. His book, Ben Hogan’s Five Lessons, The Modern Fundamentals of Golf, is among the game’s best instruction books. In it, Hogan offers golf tips on the game’s basics—golf tips that will help you lower your golf handicap. The book also provides one of the most memorable illustrations in golf instruction. The pane of glass image used by Hogan simplifies the complex motion of swinging a golf club. Many teaching pros still use the image in golf instruction sessions.
Below are five golf lessons from Hogan’s book. These short lessons use the plane of glass image to help make their points.
Down The Middle
The best ballstrikers have the club on plane going back, so they don’t have to make adjustments before impact. It’s called maintaining your swing plane. To check your swing plane, imagine two planes of glass: one fitted around your mid-section and the other around your shoulders. The space between those two panes of glass creates a slot. To make solid contact, avoid breaking either of the panes of glass on the way to the golf ball.
Hit It Low
Hogan liked to bring the ball in low to back pins. To do that, imagine a pane of glass wrapped around your body just below your shoulders. To keep it low, swing the club back and through while staying under the plane of glass. As you swing, you should have the feeling that you’re swinging around your body, not up and down. This shallow angel of attack produces a low, penetrating ball flight that’s good for reaching pins positioned toward the back of the green.
Hit It High
For pins placed at the green’s front, Hogan liked to hit it high. To do that, use the same pane of glass image we used above. The top of the backswing and finish needs to stay above the plane of glass as you move from the swing’s top and forward. This creates a steeper angle of attack. It enables you to hit down sharply on the ball and send it higher in the air.
Fix A Slice
It’s hard sometimes for golfers to feel what it’s like to swing a golf club around one’s body. We see players struggle with this in our golf instruction sessions. To get this feel, imagine you have a pane of glass wrapped around your stomach. Place your arms and the clubshaft above the pane of glass. Now swing your club around your body. Try to feel the palm of your right hand facing up as you complete the backswing and down as you finish the through swing.
Catch It Flush
If you’re hitting the ball flat or thin or just not striking it solidly, you may be changing your posture during your swing. In other words, you may not be maintaining the distance between your body and the ball established at address. To rectify this, imagine that there’s a pane of glass touching your backside as you address the ball. When you take the club back, try to stay in contact with the pane of glass with your right glute. (left glute for left-handers) When you swing through, maintain contact with your left glute. Try not to slide up or down or push the glass away.
These simple golf lessons using the pane of glass imagery won’t turn you into a Ben Hogan over night. You still must work hard ingrain your swing. But following the tips will help you achieve more consistency. That in turn should help you chip away at your golf handicap. Use Hogan’s pane of glass imagery to help you hit them long and straight.