Inside the Ben Hogan Golf Swing: Is It Truly the Greatest?

By Todd Mrowice

Ben Hogan swings club at Masters

The term “GOAT” gets thrown around in every sport today. Standing for: Greatest Of All Time. In golf, there’s plenty of debate around who’s the greatest player of all time. Tiger, Jack, Bobby Jones, and the list goes on. A somewhat lightly debated golf “GOAT” conversation has to do with the greatest golf swing of all time. One name that will always come up is Ben Hogan. Is “The Hawk” truly the greatest golf swing?

Hogan's Golf Swing

If you have ever watched Ben Hogan's golf swing you instantly know that you’re watching poetry in motion. From anyone who has ever attempted to swing a golf club, to the top touring professionals in the world, Hogan’s swing is viewed as masterful.


Address

Before Hogan even pulls the club back, it’s magic.

At address, Hogan looks supremely confident. This was consistent among every shot he hit.

His ball position set the standard in his day and is still widely used as a point of reference.

Hogan's perfect posture before he swings is carried throughout the entire golf swing, but it starts before the club is taken back even a single inch.

Takeaway

It’s amazing to watch in every video of Hogan’s swing that his first move is always hip turn, never hands. His club stays low until it has to rise and accommodate a massive hip turn.

Top Position

Freeze frame the top of any Ben Hogan golf swing. It might as well be a poster hanging on a wall.

His left arm is fully extended, full torqued, and ready to be the lead arm through the golf ball. Meanwhile, his right arm is tight to his body, supporting a golf club that is perfectly parallel to the ground.

Hogan hinged both wrists at the top, which is commonly referred to as "loading up" at the top. This position, paired with Hogan's hip movement, creates his power.

Downswing

Hogan's downswing is triggered by his hips firing through the shot, leading incredibly strong forearms, while maintaining a perfectly still head.

Impact

Hogan's impact position is smooth and crushing, whether he was hitting a wedge or a persimmon driver.

Notice how Hogan's head stays still and behind the golf ball at impact. This ensures that he's not getting ahead of the ball with any part of his body.

His commitment to impact and follow through is unwavering. Deceleration is a common cause of poor amateur golf shots. Instead, model your game after Hogan's commitment to each swing.

Finish

The finish is arguably the hallmark of the Ben Hogan golf swing. If you’ve seen it once, you’ll know it forever.

After all of the work his hips have done in taking the club back and following through, they finish strong with his belt buckle pointing directly at his target.

His right shoulder finishes under his chin with his chest, like his belt buckle, pointed firmly at his target.

Lastly, look at his amazing balance. Both feet are firmly planted allowing the rest of his body to stay strong and balanced going through the golf ball and finishing tall.

The End Result

It’s important to note that Ben Hogan was only 5-feet-9 inches tall, and weighed around 145 pounds. The mechanics of his golf swing, while viewed as nearly perfect, also helped him achieve impact and distance that someone of his stature didn’t have naturally.

Some of the most impressive accomplishments of Ben Hogan's playing career include:

  • 64 PGA Tour victories

  • 9 Major Championships

  • Member of World Golf Hall of Fame

  • PGA Tour Player of the Year: 1948, 1950, 1951, 1953

While the debate of the greatest golf swing of all time is purely subjective, it’s fun to look at some other examples.

Sam Snead

Quite possibly the biggest competition to the Ben Hogan golf swing is Sam Snead. If you watch Snead hit the golf ball you’ll find some equally as impressive traits in his golf swing. It was often reported that Snead would hit 300 yard drives over and over, many times without missing a single fairway. Considering Snead's prime was in the mid-1900s, this skill was unique to the time period.

Some Sam Snead career statistics:

  • 82 PGA Tour victories

  • 7 Major Championships

  • Member of World Golf Hall of Fame

  • PGA Tour Player of the Year: 1949

Tiger Woods

It’s hard to come across a golf-related list of anything great that does not include Tiger Woods. The fact that Tiger’s career is recent memory and many golfers today did not watch Snead, let alone Hogan, swing a golf club, many will hand over the award for greatest swing to Woods.

Tiger’s run in 2000-2001 is considered one of the most impressive stretches of golf ever played. This is when Tiger won the “Tiger Slam” when won four consecutive majors and held all four simultaneously. The run began with the 2000 U.S. Open, and encompassed the 2000 British Open, and PGA Championship, along with the 2001 Masters.

Tiger's swing at that time was the most aggressive and powerful swing adaptation from Woods that has been seen.

Mickey Wright

“She had the finest swing I ever saw.” Ben Hogan said this of LPGA legend Mickey Wright.

Mickey Wright with golf bag

While much of the debate revolves around the men listed above, Mickey Wright has quite the endorsement from Hogan.

When you watch Wright's swing, it’s apparent that she could keep up with anyone. Her swing incorporated shades of Hogan’s move along with some additional leg drive to overpower her competition and make her swing beyond impressive.

Mickey Wright’s career accomplishments include:

  • 82 LPGA victories

  • 13 Major Championships

  • Member of World Golf Hall of Fame

  • Only LPGA player to hold all four major titles at once

The Verdict

The easy answer to the greatest golf swing of all time is Ben Hogan. It’s also not wrong, necessarily. However, everyone’s eyes can catch a golf swing in a different way, so it’s nice to have comparisons. Snead, Woods, and Wright are all worthy of consideration.

About the Author

Todd Mrowice is a Staff Writer for GolfLink. He has been writing about golf for over 10 years including a long tenure at GOLFChicago Magazine. Todd has covered all aspects of the game including travel, products, business, and professional tours.