Golf Books Worth Reading - Ben Hogan’s Five Lessons: The Modern Fundamentals of Golf
Ben Hogan’s “Five Lessons: The Modern Fundamentals of Golf” is one of golf’s most influential books. Hogan details the skills that help golfers of any level play better on the course.
Since it was originally published in 1957, Hogan’s “Five Lessons” has sold over a million copies, evidence of Hogan’s intent for his book to stand the test of time. Even decades later, golfers still acknowledge this best-seller as a must-read for players learning the game.
Hogan is widely regarded as one of the greatest golfers of all time with his 64 PGA Tour wins and nine major titles. He’s one of just five golfers that completed the career grand slam.
Review of Ben Hogan’s “Five Lessons”
In “Five Lessons”, Hogan takes the reader through each step of the golf swing. His instruction simplifies the process so even the newest golfer can grasp it. That simplicity is one of the reasons why his book has stood the test of time and is considered one of the most important golf instruction books.
As the title suggests, the book is broken down into five lessons: the grip, stance and posture, the first part of the swing, the second part of the swing, and a review. In each chapter, Hogan speaks to the reader in first person, giving tips, anecdotes, and emphasizing important points with all caps.
In one of the best quotes from the book, Hogan finished the book by saying, “Reverse every natural instinct and do the opposite of what you are inclined to do, and you will probably come very close to having a perfect golf swing.”
That quote in itself is another reason “Five Lessons” has stood the test of time. It reads cleanly, and there is no long-winded, technical talk – it’s simply Hogan giving a lesson. Hogan was an efficient man, and this book’s tone mimics his personality.
Tips From Hogan’s “Five Lessons”
One of the biggest takeaways from Hogan’s “Five Lessons” is practice. In each chapter, Hogan gives examples of how long a golfer should practice a certain aspect of the game before moving onto the next. Following his prescription will help create an efficient, repeatable golf swing.
Golfers who read “Five Lessons” should consider that the book isn’t an attempt to teach Hogan’s golf swing, but teach readers how to take their own golf swing and perfect it by learning the fundamentals.
Hogan’s “Five Lessons” is filled with illustrations that accompany his advice. Taking advantage of these is paramount in getting the most from the book as you can. The sketches are detailed and allow readers to visualize Hogan’s lessons.
One of the predominant takeaways Hogan emphasizes is the importance of executing the little things. The best golfers work their tails off on the course, a result of hard work and a lot of practice. Doing the simple things well, like using the correct grip, posture and stance, backswing and downswing, gives golfers the foundation they need to enjoy the game.
Is “Five Lessons” Still Relevant?
After six decades, some question whether or not Ben Hogan’s “Five Lessons” remains relevant. The answer is resoundingly yes, it in fact does remain relevant to modern golf.
Even though modern shafts, composite club materials, 460cc-sized driver heads, hybrids and countless other advancements have changed the game since Hogan published “Five Lessons”, the book remains relevant because the fundamentals and physics of the golf swing remain the same.
Every successful professional golfer has secrets they’re unwilling to share, and Hogan is no different. Critics who expected Hogan to teach exactly how he swung a club should have known better. Hogan even states, “If you were teaching a child how to open a door, you wouldn’t open the door for him and then describe at length how the door looked when it was open. No, you would teach him how to turn the doorknob so that he could open the door himself.”
Image: Jay L. Clendenin/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images