Thank you very much for posting this.
If only more of today’s Tour Players were as thoughtful about the game and their place in it.
I think this is by far the most insightful interview Hogan ever gave. It is very detailed, and discusses very much the depth of articulation he took the game of golf to… for himself.
I have no doubt he would despise the direction the game has taken… he never hit metal woods, and took persimmons to his grave.
When I read this article… all I can think is that he was right about everything. He really was. Spot on.
Driving the ball straight should be the most important shot in golf. If the pros today had to play in his era, he would absolutely bury them.
Gosh, I’m sure I’ve read that before but the more I kept reading the more it seemed all new- and what a delightful read. I loved the part when he said “No, that’s bull.”
The simple fact is that he, his game, his methods, his thoughts, his approach were great beyond all others as far as I am concerned, and is why he holds such a lofty position in most minds as simply the best fricken ball striker who ever picked up a club and looked down at a ball upon the ground and said…“you’re mine, I own you.”
Thanks Lag for putting that up- a real treat.
John Huggan interviewed Lee Westword for a piece in the Scotsman yesterday and had this quote from Lee’s swing coach, Pete Cowan:
Not exactly working to Westwood’s advantage, however, is one of the least appealing aspects of modern golf at the top level. One of the finest drivers of this or any other generation, the 38-year-old Englishman’s edge is diminished hugely by the combination of large-headed metal clubs and a ball that all but refuses to move sideways in the air.
“The modern game actually hurts Lee in terms of his driving,” confirms Cowen. “You used to be able to win tournaments by driving it great like he does. Ian Woosnam did that. So did Nick Price. And Greg Norman. In comparison, the poor drivers couldn’t get round the courses. But the game at the top level isn’t like that any more. Because of the technology, everyone is a decent driver, almost to the point where the art of driving has been lost. So there is even more pressure on the putting.
“I’d love to see these guys out there with persimmon woods and balata balls. Not on 7,500-yard courses mind; no one would get round. But on a 7,000-yard course the superior driver would have the opportunity to separate himself from the rest. In those circumstances Lee would win far more often than he does now.”
Hmm, I see in his article a hint of the opposite. He says it is OK ball is going straighter and they hit it longer. “You still have to play 18” and then mentions also how once you can control the ball it is about course management. If you don’t improve your equipment (spoken from a manufacturer of golf stuff when he did this interview) then someone else will and put you out of business. Meaning improvement to technology is a evolution of the business model.
Didn’t Hogan once tell Moe that “hitting it straight was an accident”?
Also, that Pete Cowan stuff seniorgumby posted is the typical “cry me a river” , “my boy would win so much more if we all just went back to persimmon” - BS. Blame the game getting ‘too easy’ for everyone else while my purist student would win so much more IF ONLY the game played like it was 1980 for one area he excels in.
I have heard no account of Hogan in his later years succumbing to Metal Woods, or cavity back irons.
Barkow told me a story about how one of Hogan’s business advisers told him “We have to make a club to compete with Ping or we are going to have trouble staying in business” He was referring to “The Radial” iron, and Ben told him with his head down that “Yes I know, we have to offer something like this, but I just don’t want to see it”
The stuff Hogan had being played out on tour was very traditional. Various Apex releases, persimmon woods. Slight modifications like the Speed Slot or Vector shaft were attempts at only a slight subtle feel related change that had some change in flight characteristic, slightly lower, or better over all matched sets and so on. There was no attempt to move gear into what it has become today. He would despise what has happened.
I think Cowan is spot on.
The arguments can go on for decades, but the solution is to fraction the game into two games. Then everyone can have their own pile of sand to play in.
Monopolies have a terrible track record of acting responsibly.
The USGA needs to give the “US” part back to the proper values of the game, and keep the “GA” (golf argument) to themselves.
Where’s the part in there where Cowan references Westwood cashing over $50,000,000 worth of checks just from PING over the last the last 20 years? Let alone the ball manufacturers… Must have that oh so convenient “temporary amnesia” that’s going around. I love it.
I am not sure that Lee Westwood ever played with persimmon drivers so there is no guarantee that he would be a master with those unlike the other great drivers he mentioned who did demonstrate their prowess.
Also I think that Westwood has always used Ping cavity back irons…no criticism but obviously he still has the choice to use a blade but chooses not to, presumably because he is more comfortable with cavity backs.
Therefore, one could just as easily argue that its the game improvement drivers and irons that suited Westwood, and made him the eminent player that he is in this era.
I see no evidence that he would have conquered all with persimmon and blades.
there are interesting things to ponder in this Hogan interview. I suggest we stay on topic here?
I enjoyed the part on practice in which he felt there wasn’t enough time in the day to hit all the shots- high.low,fades, draws,bukers etc etc. Shotmakers all seem to have this creativity about them i think this is why he never saw too many straight shots he always felt the ball had to move a certain way. I think also this time consuming effort he put into ball striking is what hurt his putting.
How many players pro or amatuer would take there 7 iron out in favor of a 1 or 2 iron thats amazing in itself talk about confidence!!!
I was surprised to hear him say that he felt he was always in a slump. Thats amazing for a guy who was one of the most consistent ballstrikers ever, i guess it shows he had extremely high standards, because as good as his technique was i would be surprised if he had many stretches of poor ballstriking .
My favorite thing about Hogan is the way he responds to some of these questions:
Seitz: I understand you walked Carnoustie backwards
Hogan: No, that’s Bull…
Sometimes I wonder what it would have been like to take a Golf lesson from Hogan…probably something like taking a sales class from Alec Baldwin in Glengarry GlenRoss: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y-AXTx4PcKI
I just love everything about Ben Hogan. I love how he speaks, there’s a feeling of weight in everything he says. I love his 1950s US gentlemanly twang, his modesty, his rags to relative riches story through hard work, while sticking to his principles. I wish we had more interviews with him.
In this interview I took note of how he played every tournament like it was a major, because those days all tournaments were considered important because the field was always strong. He didn’t have a secret for coming good in majors - you couldn’t plan to win a major, you just had to do your best and hope that was good enough, even though the guy was apparently always in a slump!
The articulation of the tee shot. Working the ball into the correct part of the fairway and playing a golf course where you would then be required to use all the various irons in your bag for the approaches. A few long, mid, and short irons into 4 pars. Knudson talked about trying to hit every fairway and every green. That whole mindset is gone now.
No more long irons into 4 pars. Tee it high and swing as hard as you can. Figure half the drives will randomly find the fairway. The other half will be scattered around into light rough on courses with few or no trees, then hit a short iron from light or trampled down grass with a club that has oversized grooves and a milled face that will grip the ball so you can hold the green from off the fairway. If you miss a green, no big deal with a 60 degree lob wedge or even 64 degrees will allow you to recover from most situations. Putt the lights out on near perfect surfaces.
I think Hogan could have won this years Canadian Open where the golf course had a US Open set up, even using persimmon and blades. It was that kind of course where the technology just isn’t going to make much difference. The ball today flies much straighter, but I don’t see technology doing much in the clubs to help the players hit it straighter.
Hogan said: ’ As you get older you find yourself having to prove yourself over and over again and it eats at you.’ Jackie Burke recalls that Hogan willingly chose to operate in a circle of insecurity throughout his career. Said he could have, with all his accomplishments, resided in the circle of security, but wouldn’t let himself. After wins, Hogan was found the next Monday grinding balls on the range because of a few loose shots experienced the day before. Doesn’t seem that mindset is found much on Tour today. His standards were obviously so high the pressure must have been intense in his mind to stay at the level throughout his playing days. The wolf was always at Mr. Hogan’s door, it seems.
Hogan said: ‘I play better the more nervous I get. I’m tight as a banjo string.’ Hell, I’m nervous just reading this quote from him. The intensity and energy coming off him on that first tee must have been palpable, like a laser beam tightly focused and ready to fire. Sure seems at odds with today’s psychobabble to just relax and let it flow. Yes, easy to say, but perhaps better to embrace the fear within and channel it.
This made me laugh: What do you think of today’s seniors? ‘The older ones seem to have done away with the backswing and the follow-through.’
Could you ever imagine Hogan on that tour? No way, no how.
He was so dismissive of putting. 53 was still a bad year of putting. If you are not putting well, it’s not unreasonable to be giving 3 or more shots away to the field, per round. Really indicates how exquisite his tee to green game was.