Grade: A qualified “A”
Teacher’s Comments: Those who found Ben Hogan’s Magical Device useful also will like this volume.
Ben Hogan’s Short Game Simplified is the followup to the 2009 volume, Ben Hogan’s Magical Device (reviewed here). In short, author Ted Hunt is convinced that the Ben Hogan’s legendary “secret” was in maintaining the hands, arms and shoulders in a triangle that moves as a single unit.
Hunt is not a professional golfer, and freely admits as much. He does, however, have 50 years of golfing experience, two degrees in physical education and a doctorate in history. Hunt believes that by reading the literature, studying photos and film and interviewing Hogan contemporaries, he has been able to get to the heart of the matter. In some sense, I think that the fact that Hunt isn’t a pro works to his advantage. Pros—and especially teaching pros—tend to subscribe to particular swing theories and have their own language to describe things. An amateur investigating the swing and working from a point of tabula rasa may be able to see and explain things through an unfiltered lens.
I don’t know whether Hunt has found Hogan’s secret. But I have enjoyed his two Hogan volumes because of their high degree of practicality. Hunt argues that a simple triangle-maintaining putting motion can be extended through the chip to the full swing. That’s how I taught beginning girl golfers when I coached High School golf. If I could get them to putt, then they could chip with the same motion. A pitch was just a longer putt, and a full swing was a putt that you took all the way back and through. It worked well enough that I could field a team of absolute beginners who could within a week swing, pitch and putt their way to a double bogey on any hole.
While Hunt covered the basics of the short game in Ben Hogan’s Magical Device, the Short Game Simplified volume focuses on putting, chipping, wedges and specialty shots. Hunt is a good technical writer, for his explanations are clear and concise. Each section is accompanied by ample photographs, prescriptions and drills.
In the end, I give this book a qualified recommendation. If you found Ben Hogan’s Magical Device of use, then this is required reading.