by Ted Hunt
Teachers’ Comments: There’s no way to know if this is REALLY Ben Hogan’s “secret,” but it’s got lots of good golf advice.
There’s a popular image of Ben Hogan as a humorless golfing automaton, whose only comment to opponents on the course was “You’re Away.” But I’ve always thought that Hogan must have had a sly sense of humor, for in 1954, after a series of golf lessons he wrote for Life magazine, he suggested that he had a “secret” that he wouldn’t let out. And even after releasing his Five Lessons: The Modern Fundamentals of Golf, he kept that secret to himself, saying only that “it’s easy to see if I tell you where to look.”
Hogan’s tease has kept a lot of people busy for a very long time looking for the “secret.” I’ve read a lot of those books and articles and was never convinced. I’ve always thought that the secret was “practice” and that what was “easy to see” was Hogan on the range.
But Ted Hunt, a golfer with 50 years experience to go along with two degrees in Physical Education and a Doctorate in History may be on to something with “Ben Hogan’s Magical Device.” Hunt has read the literature, studied the photos, and interviewed Hogan contemporaries. His knowledge and research led him to a theory, and testing has convinced him that he’s on the right track.
Without giving too much away, Hunt thinks that Hogan’s magical device has to do with maintaining hands, arms and shoulders in a triangle that moves as a single unit. The concept is very well explained, fully illustrated and eminently sensible.
One reason I like the book so much is that it verifies the method I used to teach beginning girl golfers on my High School team. I always started them off with a simple putting motion, then taught them that you could chip with the same motion—slightly longer—and a different club. A pitch was just a longer chip; and a full swing was just a putt that you took all the way back and then through. We were always short of players on the team, so my goal was to get them out playing passable golf as soon as possible. It worked with any reasonably athletic player. They could pitch and chip their way to a snowman on any hole in a week.
In Ben Hogan’s Magical Device, Hunt does the same thing, explaining how you can start learning to use Ben Hogan’s Magical Device by putting. The same principles apply to the short game and through to the full swing.
Even if Hunt hasn’t found the “secret,” it’s still a useful book. The advice is sound, and surely will improve a lot of players.
Hunt’s an entertaining writer, and there are a number of fun anecdotes about Hogan and a good short summary of his life (for those who don’t already know the dark details of his childhood), good stories about other professionals (particularly Moe Norman and Stan Leonard), and some other entertaining bits. Hunt also was able to get his friend Sean Connery to write a forward.
Taken as a whole, this book is a nice little package.