Thursday, December 3, 2009

Ben Hogan Talks About Confidence

Ben Hogan is one of those golfers surrounded by a mystique. He reshaped the modern concept of the swing, and his book Five Lessons: The Modern Fundamentals of Golf still influences golfers today.

Hogan was known for "digging it out of the dirt" – that is, practicing for hours at a time to get his swing exactly right. So it might come as a surprise to read this in his best-known book (I'm only quoting part of the passage, because it's pretty long):
I see no reason, truly, why the average golfer, if he goes about it intelligently, shouldn't play in the 70s – and I mean by playing the type of shots a fine golfer plays. Somehow most average golfers get it into their head that they can't play a "long shot" correctly, that they haven't got the skill or coordination to execute a full swing. Putting or chipping, that's another story. The average golfer feels he can cope pretty successfully with those parts of the swing – all they require is a short swing. In my opinion, the average golfer underrates himself. He has all the physical equipment he needs to execute the full golf swing and hit full shots. A full swing is nothing more or less than an extension of the short swing. (p.15)
In my opinion, the average golfer underrates himself. This, from a man who described himself as "demanding," an opinion shared by the many players he intimidated both on and off the course. Perhaps this is part of the reason behind his apparent disdain for others:

Maybe Hogan just had no respect for people who didn't believe they were good enough to play the game.

Look again at that first sentence. He reiterated it in his book just a couple of pages later, this belief that almost any average golfer was capable of building a repeating swing and breaking 80. I love his logic! Almost any player can play short shots, and "long shots" are just longer short shots. I've said that the full swing is just a big version of the putting stroke, and that if you can putt, you can swing.

Ben Hogan agrees. He says the average golfer underrates himself. You don't have to make the same mistake.

It's time to believe in ourselves, people!

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