I was born in 1957 , the same year that Ben Hogan published his seminal instructional book The Modern Fundamentals of Golf. For five decades, the work and teachings of Hogan have loomed large wherever golf is taught. What Hogan discovered in his pursuit of perfection has left a precious legacy to students of the game and golf teachers everywhere.
Hogan's career as a tournament professional is well documented; the record books declare his mastery of the golf ball, his swing and the courses he played. More importantly, he learned to control himself. His steely resolve and will of iron set him apart from his peers, and it was that same determination that enabled him to recover from a near fatal car accident.
At one point, Hogan's doctors doubted his survival, let alone the hope that he would one day walk or be able to play golf again. As we all know, he overcame his injuries and fought his way back to the very peak of the game.
Everything that Hogan achieved was through hard work and perseverance, and we are fortunate that he recorded his findings so carefully and thoroughly. If you haven't yet read Hogan's masterpiece I strongly urge you to do so. Serious students of the swing will find his writing fascinating and stimulating, and his technical analysis of the fundamentals that govern a biomecanically correct golf swing is as relevant today as it has ever been.
In fact, it will help you - the reader - to have a copy of The Modern Fundamentals of Golf at hand for reference as you study this, the first in a series of five articles for Golf International in which I intend to explore and re-visit the teachings of Ben Hogan. My objective is to re-examine Hogan's fundamentals and set them in the context of the 21st century, or the "Tiger" era if you prefer!
My goals are as follows:
1. To ensure that the significance of Ben Hogan's writing on the Fundamentals of the game is not "lost" in the modern era - with specific reference to the importance of the Overlapping or 'Vardon' grip.
2. To respectfully correct and clarify minor details of Hogan's teaching on the 'Swing Plane' and 'Plane Shift' and to re-affirm their validity and relevance. [Despite tiny inaccuracies, Hogan's explanations still serve us better than most of today's muddled doctrines.]
3. To recover Fundamentals that have been 'lost' by being misconstrued or distorted through the passage of time - such as those concerning the Ball Position
4. To reveal 'Lost Fundamentals' that I believe Hogan used instinctively without realising their significance - i.e. Shaft Alignment.
5. To name or re-name according to their function certain principles that I believe are key to a correct golf swing - such as the 'Parallel Left Thumb', the 'Optimum Biomechanical Swing Plane', 'Shaft Alignment' and the 'Radial Ball Position'.