Golfer Ben Hogan, demonstrating his golf drive. (Photo by J. R. Eyerman/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)
Joe Plecker is the chief swing officer of Swing AI, a company part-owned by GOLF's parent company, 8am GOLF. To get your Swing Index, sign up and download the app today!
Ben Hogan's ball striking was legendary, perhaps the best the game has ever seen. But even his motion had good years and bad, and he’d spend hours on the range trying to, as he famously quipped, “dig answers out of the dirt.” In fact, it took Hogan a decade to notch his first professional solo win — his early game was plagued by a hook, the result of an overly strong lead-hand grip and insufficient body rotation. Weakening his hold after a “series of trial-and-error experiments” was a key step that eventually transformed Hogan’s swing into the one we admire today.
So, to better understand how his swing evolved from this point, I assigned Hogan a Swing Index with the help of the same AI technology powering our Swing Index App.
The scores you see are graded relative to Hogan’s potential, miss tendency (a hook, in this case) and body type. No two “10s” are equal— the “perfect” swing depends on who’s motoring the club. It took Hogan a few years, but eventually, he found his. - Joe Plecker
Look at Hogan’s upper body — he’s fully rotated and his levers are all set. The club is past parallel, but his lead arm path and the shaft are dead on plane. I love the strain in his right leg and the way he’s pressuring the inside of his right foot. This is rock- solid stuff. Only a few dinks for some alignment and grip issues at address.
With a stronger left-hand grip and less body rotation, Hogan’s clubface in his earlier days was often closed at impact. When Hogan changed his lead-hand grip while also incorporating more lower-body lateral movement and rotation, it helped him square up his body and build a very stable clubface at impact. It’s how he perfected that now-legendary Hogan fade.
I really like how Hogan turns his right shoulder ahead of his left hip to end his swing. It’s evidence of just how aggressively Hogan moved and rotated through the ball and into his follow-through. His weight has released onto his left side, but there’s no imbalance. Yep, this is a 10.
Editors note: The "current" were Hogan's swing scores at the start of his career. The "potential" were Hogan's swing scores at the height of his career.
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