Some Thoughts About Distance and Control
As you know, I am a huge fan of the way Mr. Ben Hogan played the game. I grew up learning from his books Power Golf and Five Lessons – The Modern Fundamentals of Golf. And of course, now I am the man responsible for the effort to bring the Ben Hogan legacy back to the golf equipment industry. It is both an honor and a great responsibility to be able to lead this team to that end.
One of the most fascinating things to me about the way Mr. Hogan played the game was the way he outlined his club distance chart in Power Golf. Now, bear in mind that the ball and equipment were quite primitive to what we have today. For example, his irons were a full inch shorter than the modern 'standard,' and his lofts were 5° to 7° weaker at the short end, but only 1° to 2° weaker at the long end of the set... but that's another equipment story.
In Power Golf, Mr. Hogan shared his own personal distances, and as you would expect, his 'regular' distance with each club was considerably shorter than even most recreational golfers today would report. For example, he listed a 'regular' five-iron to be 155 yards. Again, as you process this, understand that the loft and length of his 5-iron was about the same as your 7-iron — or even weaker than that, depending on what brand of irons you play.
But here's the amazing part: For each club in this chart, Mr. Hogan also listed his 'minimum' and 'maximum' distance. The former was 10 yards shorter than his 'regular' distance, but his 'maximum' was 25 yards further! So, he played the game with a full 25 yards in the tank as a reserve for every club in the bag.
Who plays the game that way anymore?
Even more remarkable: For his driver, Mr. Hogan listed the 'regular' at 265 yards and the 'maximum' at 300 yards. Think about hitting driver 300 yards with circa-1948 clubs and ball!
But maybe, just maybe, that was why he was noted for just dominating a golf course from tee to green. When you are swinging every iron approach shot like it was a nice soft wedge distance — and even your driver that far below your capability — your ball-striking consistency just has to improve, right?
Maybe there is something to be learned from this exercise in analysis of Mr. Hogan's approach to distance. He was one of the longer hitters on tour, but held back that power most of the time, only calling on it when it was absolutely necessary. The old political adage of Teddy Roosevelt comes to mind:
"Speak softly and carry a big stick."Mr. Hogan certainly did both.
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