Ben Hogan’s Three Right Hands

There’s a guy I play golf with occasionally who is in his 50s and new to the game. He’s small, but strong. His swing is, wind up the upper body and swing through as hard as you can with your shoulders and arms. When he connects, it’s really impressive. The other ninety percent of the time, it’s not.

He told me once that he read Ben Hogan’s book (Five Lessons) and mentioned the part where Hogan said he wished he had three right hands. Having read that book so much I almost have it memorized, I agreed that Hogan did say that.

I think my friend interpreted that as a green light to hit the ball as hard as he could with his right hand. That sure looks like what he’s trying to do.

What I didn’t say, because I don’t give unsolicited advice on the golf course, is my friend needed to read the whole sentence rather than just that part.
 Hogan at that point (p. 101) was talking about the left wrist. I won’t give you the entire quote, but he said,

“…the left hand will not check or interrupt the speed with which your clubhead is traveling. There’s no danger either that the right hand will overpower the left and twist the club over. It can’t. As far as applying power goes, I wish I had three right hands!”

That’s it. You can hit as hard as you want to with your right hand IF THE LEFT WRIST IS IN THE PROPER POSITION (illustration below).

Hogan-left-wrist-action

Hogan was not saying to hit the ball as if you had three right hands, period. There is a catch, and the catch is the shape of the left wrist.

The right hand turning over the left was my problem exactly for many years. I solved it by changing my grip and by giving my hands less responsibility through impact.

What I have is a flat left wrist at impact. Having that wrist bend outward like Hogan showed is beyond my ability. If you can get your left wrist flat (Hogan) and facing the target (Trevino) at impact, you’re way ahead of the game.

But back to the book. Hitting hard only makes sense if you are sure you can keep the clubface aligned while you’re doing it. Hogan showed you in Five Lessons how he did it.

A shorter way of saying it is, square first, hard second.

4 thoughts on “Ben Hogan’s Three Right Hands”

  1. thats a great article, of course hogan also said that he turns his lower body out of the way to start his downswing , your friend has missed the point, with reference to the illustration i am always a little bit confused by the after impact positions any thoughts on theses, cheers andy

    1. Andy — I have no comments on the after-impact positions other than to repeat what Hogan said: “…don’t try to force yourself into these positions. They are part and parcel of the chain reaction.”

  2. There’s only one way to ensure your left wrist is in the supinating position at impact is to grip the shaft with the left thumb directly on top. There were more pro’s during Hogan’s time that advocated placing the left thumb slightly to the right of center. Hogan’s left hand grip is called a weak grip. A strong grip moves the left thumb well to the right. Hogan did this to ensure he wouldn’t hook the ball. Hogan believed if he started with this weak grip, he could hit the ball as hard as he wanted to with the right hand and forearm and he wouldn’t hook it. It’s extremely difficult, if not almost impossible to hook a ball with a weak left hand grip.
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    1. Rick,
      The weak grip makes it easier to pronate the left wrist, but that is not the whole story. Hogan said you have to hit hard with BOTH hands. If you hit with your right hand only, it will easily overpower the left and turn the clubface over. Please go back to Five Lessons and read page 99. I can speak from personal experience on this matter. I tried a weak grip and still hooked until I learned how to reign in my right hand.

      Thanks for being a reader.

      Bob.

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