When I think about what Mr. Hogan left behind, I’m reminded of the Greek myth about Theseus who entered the labyrinth to slay the Minotaur. Theseus faced a second challenge that was just as daunting: How would he find his way out of the maze if he succeeded in slaying the Minotaur? Well, it turns out all he needed was a spool of thread. He tied the thread to the entrance of the maze and unspooled it as he ventured into the darkness. Thus, he was able to accomplish his goal, and eventually find his way out of the labyrinth. Like Theseus in the labyrinth, Ben Hogan left us these books to help us on our way. All we have to do is follow the thread of the hero path.
As I look back over the past few years, I have to laugh because I’ve never been as good at golf as I wanted to be. I’m sure many people could say the same thing. I started playing when I was 8 years old, and today I’m 47. I was willing to work on my game and I spent a lot of money on clubs and lessons, but I did not get better. My average score was in the high 80s. I often shot in the 90s, and I sometimes shot in the 100s. The worst score I can recall was 126.
Then one fine day, I was in the checkout line at a golf store and saw Ben Hogan’s Five Lessons on a rack by the cash register. I bought that book, and it changed my life. Around the same time, I got a Flip video camera and I saw my swing for the first time in decades. Well, suffice to say, I didn’t look like Ben Hogan. I realized I needed to improve my swing, and Mr. Hogan’s books gave me a path to follow. Over the course of the next five years, I would undertake the challenge of trying learn how to swing like Ben Hogan. Along the way I started a YouTube channel, and began rebuilding my swing and sharing my work with the world. Today, I have more than 9 million views on my channel and I can even shoot under par.
Taking on the challenge of trying to rebuild my golf swing in the manner of Ben Hogan probably sounds a little crazy. At first, it seemed like a preposterous goal. I had been a martial arts champion and professional ballet dancer in my past, however, and it was by studying Bruce Lee and Mikhail Baryshnikov that I was able to achieve a respectable level of mastery in each of those fields of study. So, I thought “How hard can it be?” Well, it was the most complicated of all of my pursuits due to the counter-intuitive nature of the golf swing.
It didn’t take long before I could make golf swings that bore some of the hallmarks of the Hogan golf swing. The first year, I flattened my backswing plane and I learned to use my body well enough to create a good amount of lag. My scores quickly improved and I achieved my initial goal of being able to break 80. In fact, I did it 14 times that first year! To be honest, that was all I wanted from my game at the time. I just wanted to be able to shoot in the 70s, and not feel like a buffoon when I stood on the first tee box. But the goal of mastering the Ben Hogan golf swing began to fester in the back of my mind, and being in my mid-40s, it seemed like an age-appropriate pursuit since my days of combat and theater were far behind me.
After some initial successes, the greatest challenge I faced moving forward in regards to learning how to swing like Mr. Hogan was how to use my lower body correctly. Years of playing the game with my weight too far forward had caused me to develop some bad habits that seemed impossible to break. I’m right handed, and as soon as I started my downswing, my right heel would immediately pop off of the ground. This led to early extension of my hips and my spine angle would rise through impact. These are common maladies in the world of golf, and it took me years before I could get “over the hump.” Mr. Hogan said many times that what really separates world-class players from everyone else is the use of the lower body.
I would spend years trying to overcome my early extension, and sometimes I convinced myself that it was just how my body worked. But then I learned about a teacher named Gregg McHatton in my area. I began taking lessons with Gregg, who was known for being an expert on Ben Hogan’s swing. Once I arrived, Gregg pointed out something that many folks on YouTube had also noticed. He told me I resembled Mr. Hogan until just before I released the club head. At that point, I would lose my angles and I looked like an average Joe. The truth is my swing was really just a poor imitation of Mr. Hogan at that point. I had to tackle my impact and release.
Gregg first helped me to understand what a proper impact position actually looked like. The first time he asked me to demonstrate what I thought the impact position should be, I was flummoxed. I didn’t really know. He wanted me to keep more flex in my knees through impact, especially my front leg, with my hips open and forward shaft lean. Gregg has an interesting way of teaching. It seems to me that he prefers not spilling his guts about everything right away, but he rather enjoys leading students down a pathway that causes them to have their own epiphanies. At least that was the case with me.
Gregg and I enjoyed a number of conversations about Ben Hogan and baseball, and I like to practice swinging a bat to feel my hips leading on the downswing. I’ve always had a tendency to overpower the golf club with my hands and arms, but the weight of a bat makes this harder to do. But it was after I took a look at pitching that helped me to really understand how to use my feet and legs better. Once I started to imagine feeling my back foot against the rubber, I realized how inefficient it was to allow my right heel to pop off of the ground. I knew I needed to use my leverage against the ground. This caused my lower body to work in a much more efficient manner, and also helped to deepen my hips and to stop me from early extending. By mimicking a sidearm/underhand throwing motion like Mr. Hogan showed in his book, I really started to feel how the swing builds from the ground up. Today, I have a consistent move that allows me hit the ball farther than I ever have before and my consistency has vastly improved.
We all know there is only one Ben Hogan, and his swing was one of a kind. Mr. Hogan was so modest he didn’t even believe his swing was the perfect swing to copy. But he did say the ultimate judge of the golf swing is the ball itself. I do not believe I will ever perfectly match Mr. Hogan’s swing, but I have received so much enjoyment just from the pursuit, not to mention the benefit from my tremendously improved golf game. I certainly hope to keep improving at this wonderful game, but judging from my ball flight I can say that I made it much farther along than I ever thought possible.
I’ve slain the Minotaur and lived to tell the tale.
The 19th Hole: Bernhard Langer on his brilliant career, biggest regret, and Payne Stewart
Hall of Fame golfer Bernhard Langer, winner of the PGA Tour’s 2018 Payne Stewart Award, joins host Michael Williams on the 19th Hole for an exclusive one-on-one interview. Langer talks about his brilliant career, his friendship with Payne Stewart, and the thing that he regrets about his career. This episode also features Chip Beck, the second player to shoot a 59, on how that special round changed his life forever.
Check out the full podcast on SoundCloud below, or click here to listen on iTunes!
The 21 best golf podcasts you should be listening to in 2018
What’s the best golf podcast? Debating that may be as fruitless as the Jack vs. Tiger debate, because there are a bunch of darn good ones out there right now. You don’t have to be an astute observer of the media space to know podcasting has exploded in popularity in recent years. Indeed, it seems like everyone has a podcast these days, including your grandmother’s Scrabble enthusiast pod.
Returning to the original question: this is a subjective list that isn’t meant to be exhaustive. If there’s a podcast you enjoy that finds itself outside the ropes, feel free to mention it in the comments.
So grab your earbuds, Beats by Dre, or wireless headphones if you’re really cool, and take a look at some notable podcasts by category.
Obviously, I’m strongly biased towards the GolfWRX’s podular offerings, and since this is, you know, GolfWRX, we’ll start with our pods.
19th Hole: Michael Williams talks to luminaries of the game and interesting folks alike in his pod. Heck, Michael’s first guest was Bob Vokey! Williams is well-wired and well-traveled, and oh, he has by far the best radio voice of anyone on this list, so he’s got that going for him. Other guests include Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Greg Norman, Scott Van Pelt, Rees Jones and many other legends.
Gear Dive: I’ll avoid any play on his last name, but Johnny Wunder’s Gear Dive is an inquisitive look into, well, golf gear. Wunder has spoken with everyone from Charles Howell III, to Fred Couples, to the boys at Artisan Golf. If you love golf equipment, or consider yourself a gearhead, this is the podcast is a must.
Two Guys Talking Golf: Editor Andrew Tursky and resident equipment expert Brian Knudson are the golf buddies you wish you had. The pair discuss equipment, club building, happenings on the PGA Tour, and an abundance of random golf-related and tangentially golf-related topics. Most recently, TG2 answered 30+ AMA-style questions from the @tg2wrx Instagram page, and they’ve had guests on such as Billy Horschel, Ping’s Marty Jertson, Scotty Cameron, Bob Vokey, Aaron Dill, GolfWRX Forum members and many others.
Unlocking Your Golfing Potential: This instructional podcast series hosted by coach Will Robins teaches golfers how to improve their games without improving their technique. If you want to lower your scores, and change your outlook on the game of golf in general, I highly recommend this podcast.
DFS golf podcasts
Golf is one of the fastest growing and most popular DFS sports. Accordingly, every DFS site in the world and most major outlets have a fantasy-related podcast. These three are among the longest running and finest in the space, although Matthew Wiley of Golflandia deserves a special nod for his spectacular rambling ridiculousness and high entertainment value.
Pat Mayo: Mayo is an OG of the fantasy sports podcasting game in general and fantasy golf pods in particular. And honesty, he must have cloned himself sometime in the past because his output absolutely mind-boggling. Plus, he’s one of the few podcasts on this list that records video, so if you’re looking for a pod with a visual component, Mayo is your man. Listen here.
Fantasy Golf Degenerates: Brad and Kenny go together like, well, Brad and Kenny. These two have been grinding out a weekly fantasy golf podcast since PGA DFS was in diapers a few years back. Brad is the ownership god and Kenny’s course previews are second to none. Well worth a pre-tournament listen every week. Best enjoyed with Crown Royal. Listen here.
Tour Junkies: PGA DFS podcasting’s other dynamic duo, David and Pat, have similarly been ‘casting since the early days of the…hobby? Come for the weekly entertainment, but stay for their inside knowledge of Augusta National (where David was a caddie). The pair have branched out into interviews–Kevin Kisner, Bob Parsons, John Peterson–which are well worth checking out too. Listen here.
Now, let’s take a look at some of what the the PGA Tours and Golf Channels of the world have under their umbrellas, as well as the rest of the colorful bouquet of golf golf-related podcasts that focus on everything from the intersection of golf and science to the intersection of Barstool Sports and golf.
From longstanding outlets
Talk of the Tour: While Mark Immelman’s “On the Mark” is good, on “Talk of the Tour” John Swantek “visits with a variety of players, writers, broadcasters, industry leaders and insiders from throughout the world of golf,” as the official description indicates. Given the Tour’s access and reach, the results don’t disappoint. Listen here.
Golf Channel Podcast: Is the title creative? No it is not. Is the podcast good? Yes it is. Not only does the whole range of on-air GC talent appear on occasion–Brandel Chamblee’s recent appearance was excellent, as was Tiger Tracker’s. Listen here.
Golf Digest Podcast: The folks at GD get top-notch (to quote Judge Smails) guests and turn out quality takes from a strong team of writers. Listen here.
European Tour’s Race to Dubai: Yes, turning the season-long points race into the title of a podcast is odd, but Robert Lee’s (not the Civil War general) podcast “features exclusive interviews with star names, incisive analysis of the latest action, all the key news and a light-hearted look at life on tour,” per the description. Listen here.
Matty & The Caddie: ESPN’s Matt Barrie and former comedian/current ESPN golf analyst Michael Collins join forces to interview both athletes and celebrities, inside and outside the ropes. Lately, the list of big name guests includes Golden Tate, Nick Faldo, Chris Webber, Joe Theismann, Alfonso Ribiero, Brian Urlacher, Joe Carter, George Lopez, Jack Nicklaus and more. Listen here.
No Laying Up: From Twitterers with day jobs to an upstart media outlet, NLU’s podcast was the tool that led to the merch, the features, and Soly, Tron and company’s other efforts. If you’re unfamiliar, start with the most recent episode (Justin Thomas) and work your way backward. You won’t regret it.
The Fried Egg Golf: Andy Johnson has become a force and a voice in the world of golf media in a very short period of time. While he and his guests do good work in discussing the pro game, Andy’s forte is golf course architecture, and he cooks up architecture discussions better than anyone in the podcast universe right now. Listen here.
Fore Play: Honestly, the iTunes description for Barstool’s golf pod is pretty good: “Trent, Riggs and their wide variety of guests talk about everything golf like normal folks sitting at a bar watching coverage, venting about the game’s difficulties, and weighing in on pro gossip. Your classic golf addicts, the “Fore Play” crew brings a young, unique voice to the rapidly-evolving game, discussing freely and openly everything golf.” Pretty much sums it up. Listen here (warning: explicit).
The Clubhouse with Shane Bacon: Mr. Salt-Cured Pork has had something of a come up, hasn’t he? The Fox hosting duties and more are well earned, as Bacon is a strong voice, and his network affiliation ensures a quality roster of guests. Listen here.
ShackHouse: Geoff Shackelford joins forces with “podcast personality” per the iTunes description, Joe House to “break down the biggest golf stories, interview some of the biggest personalities in the game.” Really, this show is all about Shack’s singular perspective. Listen here.
Feherty: I mean, what can you say? If you like David Feherty and his show, you’ll love his podcast (I do), because it is essentially his show. And if you don’t, you won’t. Listen here.
The Erik Lang Show: Ah, the singular Mr. Lang, who, doing things his own way, wrote his show description in the first person: “Hi! I’m Erik Anders Lang. I’ve worn a bunch of hats in this life from waiting tables, photography, doc filmmaking, hosting Adventures In Golf (PGA TOUR / Skratch TV) and now – a PODCAST! The Erik Lang Show is me pontificating on life, golf and travel.” Listen here.
Callaway ShipShow: Far from a content marketing gimmick, Callaway’s content marketing is, well, really good content. Harry Arnett’s “ShipShow” is kind of like the younger, goofier brother of “Callaway Live.” Billed as discussion about “compelling people, culture, narratives, and current events in golf,” the ShipShow is always a swashbuckling good time. Listen here.
Golf Science Lab: Cordie Walker pulls back the curtain and cuts through the hooey of the “mythology” of golf instruction and the game in general. He says he’s “making a difference in the way golf is taught, learned, and practiced,” and honestly, he’s not wrong. If you’re an instruction and improvement enthusiast, this is your ‘cast. Listen here.
Do you know how to drop in 2019? Are you sure?
Starting January 1, 2019, golfers will have to get used to the new Rules of Golf. Many changes were made to create the new rules, but one of the most important changes without any doubt are the dropping rules. You might say: “Come on, it’s easy! We just have to drop from knee height, right?” Well, it’s not that simple. There are quite a few other things you need to know, which I will clarify below.
Q1. What is “knee height” exactly?
“Knee height” means the height from the ground to your knee when in a standing position.
Q2. So I cannot just kneel and thereby place the ball instead of dropping?
Good thinking… but no 🙂
Q3. What part of the knee do I have to drop from?
It’s not (at the moment) clarified which part of the knee is “the knee,” but there cannot be any doubt that you can drop from the whole knee.
FACTS: “CORRECT WAY TO DROP”
The 2019 Rules of Golf state that you are dropping the ball correctly if all these requirements are fulfilled:
- The player himself must drop the ball
- It must be dropped from knee height
- The player must not give it any spin, etc.
- Before the ball hits the ground, it must not touch any part of the player or the player’s equipment (e.g. his bag)
- It must be dropped in the relief area (the relief area is defined in the rule you are taking relief under), i.e. it must first touch the ground inside the relief area when dropped.
If just one of these requirements is not fulfilled, you are not considered to have dropped in a correct way. You must re-drop until you have dropped in a correct way (without any limit as to the number of re-drops).
If you play a ball not dropped in a correct way, you incur a one-stroke penalty — unless you played from outside the relief area, in which case you incur a two-stroke penalty in stroke play or lost hole in match play (see FACTS 2).
Q4. What is the penalty for not dropping from knee height?
You can and should correct your error before playing the ball. If you re-drop in a correct way, correcting your error, there is no penalty. If you don’t and make a stroke at the ball, you incur a one-stroke penalty (since you did not drop in a correct way). See “FACTS 1”.
Q5. What if I drop almost from knee height.
Well, as a starting point you have to drop from knee height. If you dont’t, you will have to correct your error by re-dropping correctly (see “FACTS 1″).
There is a “I-did-my-best-so-please-don’t-penalize-me-rule” saying that when finding a “location,” you are not penalized for finding a wrong location if you made a reasonable judgment. It is for now not certain if this rule also encompasses a situation in which you don’t drop exactly from knee height simply because you cannot see that spot with certainty when looking down.
On one hand, you could argue that this interpretation would be in accordance with the spirit of this rule (don’t penalize a player doing his best). On the other hand, it seems that the knee cannot be that hard to find (!) and that a “location” probably must be interpreted as “a location on the golf course.” My conclusion would be that there is no excuse for not to being able to drop exactly from knee height, and thus this rule did not apply in this situation.
There is also a “naked-eye rule” saying that if the fact (here: the ball was not dropped from knee height) could not reasonable have been seen with the naked eye, the player is not penalized even though video evidence shows something different (i.e. that it in fact was not dropped exactly from knee height). In my opinion, this naked-eye rules is not applicable here, since a player will be said to be able to find the knee with a reasonable effort.
So… in my opinion there is no excuse not to drop from knee height!
FACTS 2: RELIEF AREA.
A relief area is the area in which you have to drop (see “FACTS 1”) and in which your ball must end after a drop.
Example: If you deem your ball in the rough unplayable, you can for example choose with a one-stroke penalty to drop a ball within two club lengths from — and not nearer the hole than — the spot where the ball lay. This area is called the “relief area.”
If your ball ends outside the relief area in your drop, your required action depends on whether or not you dropped in a correct way (see “FACTS 1”).
- If you did not drop in a correct way: You must re-drop again (without penalty) without any limitations as to the number of re-drops until you have dropped in a correct way.
- If you did drop in a correct way: The player must re-drop (in a correct way!) a ball one time (without penalty). If the ball still ends outside the relief area, the player must then (without penalty) place a ball on the spot where the dropped ball first touched the ground in the re-drop. If he player does that, no penalty is incurred. If he does not but plays a ball from outside the relief area, he plays from a wrong place thereby incurring a two-stroke penalty in stroke play or a loss of hole in match play.
Q7. Who should drop the ball?
Only the player can drop the ball. Not the caddie, not other players, not anyone else! See “FACTS 1”.
Q8. What is the penalty if your ball strikes your bag or yourself in the drop?
The answer depends on when it happens (i.e. when it strikes you or your equipment):
- If it happens before the ball strikes the ground: There is no penalty presupposing that you re-drop before you play the ball. You have to re-drop no matter how many drops it takes for you not to strike your bag or yourself. If you don’t re-drop and play the ball, you incur a one-stroke penalty.
- If it happens after the ball has struck the ground: There is no penalty, and you shall not re-drop.
Q9. Where must I drop?
You must drop in the “relief area,” which is defined in the rule you are dropping under. If you declare your ball unplayable, for example, then one of the options is to drop within two club length – not nearer the hole – than where the ball lay. This area is the “relief area” in which:
- Your ball must land in the drop (see “FACTS 1”) and
- Must end (See “FACTS 2”)
Q10. What if I drop from shoulder height?
That probably will happen quite a few times in the beginning of 2019. In this case, you are not dropping in a correct way, and you must re-drop without penalty before you make the stroke. See “FACTS 1.”
Q11. When do I have to re-drop?
The re-dropping rules are simplified. Under the current rules, there are a lot of situations where you are required to re-drop, e.g. when the ball rolls closer to the hole than the nearest point of relief, when the ball rolls into a bunker (and stays there), when the ball rolls more than two club lengths from where it first struck the course, etc. These rules are quite difficult.
In 2019, it gets easier. You have to drop in a “relief area,” and the balls needs to end it that area. If you drop outside this area or if the ball rolls and stays outside this area, you are required to re-drop. See “FACTS 1” and “FACTS 2.”
Q12. Do I have to re-drop (as it is today) if the ball rolls more than two club lengths away from the spot that the ball first struck the course in the drop?
First of all, in 2019 there is not such a “two-club-length rule.” The re-dropping rules are explained in “FACTS 1” and in “FACTS 2” above.
- If you take relief (e.g. from a path) and must drop within one club length (of the nearest point of point of complete relief), you will always have to re-drop if it rolls more than 2 club lengths (since the relief area is exactly two club-lengths long measured from the two points farthest from each other).
- If you drop after a rule requiring you to drop within two club lengths, sometimes you must re-drop if the ball rolls more than two club lenths and sometimes not. The only thing that matters is that the ball must be dropped in the relief area (see “FACTS 1”) and must end in the relief area (see “FACTS 2”). Otherwise, it must be re-dropped.
Q13. I have a bad back and therefore I cannot take my arm down far enough to be able to drop from knee height. What do I do?
I don’t know. My guess would be this: A player who cannot drop from knee-height due to back-problems most likely cannot play golf at all. In other words, a player able to play golf will almost always be able to drop the ball from knee height.
In the extremely rare situations where a player cannot drop from knee height but can play a round of golf, there is a “do-what-is-fair-rule” stating that in situations not covered by the Rules of Golf, you should do what is fair. Maybe that would lead to the conclusion that it was OK for a player to drop from a place higher than knee height (e.g. just from the position the arm is when it is stretched and relaxed alongside the leg).
Q14. Is a taller player going to drop the ball from a higher place than a lower player?
Q15. Isn’t that unreasonable?!
Well, that’s for you to decide 🙂 Who said that the 2019-Rules of Golf where easy to understand?
Rules Mentioned in Article
- 14-3: Dropping the ball
- 20-2c: “Naked-eye-rule”
- 1.3b(2): “Reasonable-judgment-rule”
- 20.3: “Do-what-is-fair-rule (when the situation is not covered by the rules).
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