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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Hogan's Waggle

Ramzi left me a couple of questions in the comments to my "hot and sticky" post a couple of days ago after he went to watch the final round of the CIMB Classic. (Yes, Ramzi lives in Malaysia.) One of those questions concerned Jason Dufner's waggle, and I said I'd just do a post so I could cover it properly.

Here was his comment about Jason:
I also saw Dufner and saw the famous waggle - but major question here is the swing supposed to be wristy like his waggle? It takes a lot of confidence to start the swing after the waggle, I must say.
Lots of instructors talk about "liking the waggle" but they don't talk much about the details of how to do it. And make no mistake, Ben Hogan liked details. First, here's what I wrote in the comments about the waggle, since it will save us some time:
First, the swing should NOT be wristy like the waggle. Hogan was pretty clear in his book Five Lessons: The hands and arms shouldn't do anything during the swing but hang on to the club. The trick with a Hogan-style waggle as described on pages 66 and 67 of my copy -- and this isn't made clear most of the time -- is that the waggle is a specific set of moves, but it isn't identical each time. I'll do a post about it for Tuesday.
The waggle, according to Hogan, is a bridge between address and the actual swing. It's not just about loosening up, but about practicing (1) the path back, (2) squaring up the club face at contact, and (3) visualizing the shot. But the waggle is very different from the actual swing you're going to make in several ways. Hogan mentions that there is no shoulder turn; that in itself keeps the waggle from being exactly like your backswing.

But there's a specific technique to Hogan's waggle. Most people just twist their forearms, but not Hogan. The upper arms stay connected to the chest, as in a one-piece takeaway, but the lead elbow moves a couple of inches straight away from your body while the trailing elbow moves closer to your side... then they move back to their start position. The hands stay relaxed and just keep hold of the club. This isn't forearm twisting!

The bending of the elbows of what causes the apparent rotation of the forearms; the real rotation actually happens at the lead shoulder. I know that sounds kinda weird, but remember that your upper arms are touching your chest lightly. Hogan was very specific about this:
During the waggle, the upper part of the arms remain rooted against the sides of the chest. As we stated earlier, there should be no turning of the shoulders. (Five Lessons, p67)
If you do your waggle the way Hogan says, your upper arm actually rolls up the side of your chest. If you try it, you'll see it makes perfect sense.

This means that the waggle is actually an upper arm movement, not a wrist movement. The hands and wrists stay relaxed. And it assumes you're using Hogan's concept of connection in your swing. If you aren't, the Hogan-style waggle has questionable effectiveness.

As for Ramzi's comment that "it takes a lot of confidence to start the swing after the waggle," there's more truth to that than you might think. Hogan specifically says, in all caps, "DON'T GROOVE YOUR WAGGLE" (p67). Modern players try to create a ritual that repeats exactly the same way on every shot. You may remember that Dufner received some criticism for not waggling the same way every time. (In fact, Jason said he just waggles until he feels ready to swing.) But that's exactly how Hogan said to do it. And if every waggle feels a little different, you won't feel the same way each time... although Hogan says that, after his waggle, he often felt that he had rehearsed the swing exactly the way he wanted to play it.

If you're really interested in learning a Hogan-style waggle, the thing to do is get a copy of Hogan's Five Lessons: The Modern Fundamentals of Golf. For what it's worth, it's a fairly small paperback that retails for around 13 bucks. (You can probably find it cheaper online.) But Hogan is the expert when it comes to the waggle; in my opinion, if you want to learn how to do it right, you should go to the source.

And there you have it -- the basics of Hogan-style waggling. Simply put, if you want to swing like Jason Dufner, you may want to incorporate it into your swing. If you don't swing like Jason, it's not critical to making a good swing.


  1. Thanks Mike. Great info.

    I might be wrong but seeing Dufner's waggle in person, it sure looks wristy to my untrained eyes.

    I have 'Five Lessons' but I find Nicklaus' 'Golf My Way' more interesting, combine that with the iPhone app its really great!

  2. It's possible that Dufner is using his wrists. I'm just saying that he isn't if he's doing it the Hogan way. If he cocks his wrists (to help relax his wrists) and then moves his elbows the way Hogan says, it'll look wristy.

    Of course, Five Lessons and Golf My Way have probably been used by more golfers than any other golf books in history. One is best for flatter swings, the other for more upright swings. Can't go wrong with those!

  3. So for big sized golfer like me, which is a better book as a major reference?

  4. I don't think it matters, Ramzi. Jack was called "Fat Jack" for quite a while, and you're not as big as he was back then. But Lee Westwood -- a fairly big guy himself -- has more of a Hogan move. Plenty of players use both. Choose the swing that you feel best making.