Position & Pivot – Hogan’s Liquid Move

There was one thing, way back even before I began my swing research, that was particularly fascinating about Ben Hogan’s swing.

There was a liquid smoothness to his irons that you just don’t see nowadays, and it was only after years of looking at swings of every sort that I realized what it was – it was the effortless swing action that is produced by position and the pivot, and by position, I mean the address.

When you swing, there are halves sides to the body (right & left), and most people neglect one half side for the other, but even a dominant-arm swinger has another half to the body that must be positioned properly.

If you watch Hogan swing in the below clip, you’ll see what I’m talking about.


As amazing as it may be that the Hogan description of the swing may have led to the modern golf swing stuff that is wrecking games and bodies the world over, you can see clearly in the clip that Hogan used his body (especially the hips and legs) to hit the ball, even with irons.

I think, if it came from Hogan, it was because he said “restrict” with regards to the right leg and hip, but that is a very inaccurate word, as I firmly believe (and you can see for yourself) that he likely meant “prevent lateral slide” when talking about the hips.

You don’t want the hips moving laterally on the back swing, as they are supposed to “barrel-turn” and they only move laterally toward the target with the weight transfer to the leading foot to begin the down swing.

The clip contains swings from a 1956 practice and tournament in Mexico, which would have made it three years after he won the Masters, U.S. Open and Open Championship (he didn’t play in the PGA Championship because the schedule conflicted with the Open Championship and, being match-play, was impossible for him with his damaged body after the near-fatal car wreck a few years before).

So, even when Hogan could only play in a half-dozen tournaments per year due to his legs, you can see that he was indeed using those legs and turning those hips on the pivot.

This is where true power lies – in the legs, where the strongest muscles reside.

If you’re not going to use your hips and legs on the back swing, you’re creating that much more work for yourself and also raising the risk of injury.

I’m not Ben Hogan, but having studied his pivot action and implemented it as part of the MCS swing motion, you can see that anyone can swing with that floating head and seeming lack of effort through the ball, as the hips and legs are providing all of the required power:


So, this will be a recurring theme in the upcoming “E = MCS” video – how important the hips and legs are, and how with proper address positioning within the MCS model, you can turn the swing into one of effortless power production with very little visible effort.

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17 thoughts on “Position & Pivot – Hogan’s Liquid Move

  1. David

    The amount of lag he had with that soft transition even in the wedge is remarkable. Couple that with the leg movement was truly a dance. The floating pivot was evident when we could see the feet as I believe you meant to say in the last paragraph.(not floating head, I have that :)) The date is actually 1956 listed at the end of the clip. Great stuff DJ.

    1. D Watts Post author

      Thanks DK – I’ve made an edit to the 1956 date and funny, I saw that video years ago and when I read “1953” in the Youtube description, I thought initially, “Hmm, I could have sworn I saw ’56 the first time around…”

      Fixed!

      PS – No, I meant to write “floating head” there, because that’s why I call this style of pivot the “floating pivot” – because the head floats in place beneath the swinging body rather than moving around.

      Hope that clears it up. 🙂

      DJ

  2. Laser

    “When you swing, there are two halves to the body.”

    –I kind of liked the old DJ better. “You don’t ‘separate’ the body.” This is because the body is connected with itself. What the two-half people don’t realize is that your abdominal muscles are connected to your pelvic bone (hip bone). Therefore, if you use your whole body to swing your arms, that leg-hip power is transmitted upward in ways that aren’t visible (as long as golfers don’t do something to inhibit it).

    Yes, your hips are even connected with your ribs. (If you don’t believe me, ask Rory, or Snedeker.)

    Golfers do NOT have to learn anatomy–but they might have to un-learn the two-half theory. Just to get a taste of what I’m talking about, someone could go to an Internet search engine, search for images, and type “external oblique muscle.” It’s a straight shot, hips-to-ribs. And, that’s not all there is to it…by a longshot.

    1. D Watts Post author

      You’re correct, Laser – most people do not need to hear or read “two halves when thinking of the swing. I’ve edited it to “two sides,” of which there certainly are, when you’re swinging.

      And the better you can sync both sides properly to swing, the smoother and more aesthetically pleasing your swing action will be.

  3. Zorik

    Hi DJ,

    Wasn’t really sure where to post this.

    But one question I have after watching all of your videos is: Should the backswing feel like its going inside right away, in the kinesiology video where you use the bucket drill it seems like the club would be starting inside and not in a straight back line away from the ball like modern golf teaching, is this correct?

    I have played around with this and have had some success. But my swing feels a little bit like I’m sucking the club straight behind my back leg with a large shoulder turn right away to start the backswing, is this a correct feeling?

    Thanks for all your work!

    Zorik

    1. D Watts Post author

      Hi Zorik!

      This is the thing – you will hear for ages about the perils and evils of the “inside takeaway,” as if this is somewhere the club shouldn’t be.

      However, you will hear the same people tell everyone that for the proper down swing, one must “drop” the arms and club “into the slot,” which I’m sure everyone here has heard and read.

      My answer to them is, if you didn’t take the arms and club out of the proper down swing slot to begin with, you wouldn’t have to do anything to manipulate the club and arms on the way down.

      If you took the club out of your hands, you’d see a very clear arc created with the hands on the takeaway, so I don’t see a reason to do anything differently with the club in your hands.

      Another example – if you open a door, what happens to the door edge as it leaves the frame and swings open? Does it not track inward? Of course it does, because the door is the same width open or closed, so it will transcribe an arc going back and again when you close it.

      I toyed briefly with the concept of a more outside takeaway last year, but I would say now that it’s not necessary and any OTT move or hooking action that results in a swing is not because of having taken it inside on the back swing.

      With a proper pivot, you shouldn’t have to manipulate the club head going back to create any line or arc other than what the shoulders make the arms make the club do.

      I’m talking here about the simplest possible actions for both the take away and the down swing.

      Others will disagree, but others don’t teach nor perform the MCS swing. 😉

      Hope that helps!

  4. Lance

    Hi DJ- getting back to swinging after a terrible hamstring tear playing softball. I just rewatched Dropping the Hammer pt.1 and I have a question about what you said about starting the backswing pivot.

    You mentioned one way to start is by twisting toes into ground. Do you have that thought? If so, is it a clockwise twist of both right and left foot? I’m wondering if this thought would replace the thought of moving right knee back over heel? Your thoughts?
    Thanks!

    1. D Watts Post author

      Hi Lance!

      That is one possible concept to aid people to perform the floating pivot initially – if you think of having weight only on the ball of the left foot (for right-handers) and twisting the foot clockwise, you’ll likely find that the rest of the pivot falls into place.

      That’s the one foot, not the right or supporting foot, as you don’t want any motion in the supporting foot at all on the back swing pivot – and this is a concept.

      You can describe the right leg action in many ways – moving the knee back over the foot, pushing the right hip behind oneself, etc… you’re getting the same action, but if a visual works, it’s not important which one it is.

      Hope that helps!

  5. Laser

    “Think of having weight only on the ball of the left foot (for right-handers) and twisting the foot clockwise, you’ll likely find that the rest of the pivot falls into place.” ~ DJW

    –Just my opinion, but I think you put the other half of it here:

    “When I’m ready to swing, there is perhaps one swing thought, if at all, deep right hip…” ~ DJW

    –“Deep right hip” might be the result…but for someone who’s into anatomy (hopefully not many) maybe the “feel” is actually closer to a right hip-leg combination, turning above & below the ball-joint of the right leg-hip (which is below what we might think of the hip bone). The difference would be eliminating the idea of getting that deep right hip by trying to use torso muscles.

    So, your unified concept would be:

    1) LEFT leg, pivot on the ball of the left foot, combined with
    2) RIGHT hip-leg combo, below the level of the hip bone.

    The only other thing that sounds good to me is not to visualize anything having to do with the front of your body. You’ve mentioned C7 vertebra (back), and Tom Watson said, “Turn your back to the target.” Maybe you guys could reach a compromise.

    1. D Watts Post author

      If someone can truly grasp the concept of the truth that the MCS swing is built to swing beneath a stable C7 (and therefore a relatively stable head), then the battle is more than half-won.

      I’ve said since the “MCS – Ultimate Leverage” video that a proper pivot to someone who has been used to restricting their hips will feel like a reverse pivot, because of the sensation of a free pivot turn versus their usual straining effort.

      So, I definitely agree with Tom Watson there – as long as the head doesn’t shift back towards the target, that’s exactly what you do.

      Problem, one would ask Tom, would be, How does one do that?”

      And the simple answer is, “Using the hips and legs.”

  6. Zorik

    Hi DJ,

    One other question, I was at the range practicing and one thing came up was how much tilt to the right, in the video you advocate that the right arm hangs down and you reach for your knee while your left hip moves toward the target, I think maybe my arms are not that long so when I reach for my knee I feel like I have an extreme tilt like I’m over doing it, is there another feel for proper amount of tilt. Also once I tilt should I feel more weight on the right foot or left foot or should it be even?

    Thanks again!

    Zorik

    1. D Watts Post author

      Hi Zorik – I would bet you that your arm length is fine and that you just have never had the proper spine tilt for a truly mechanically-correct swing. I had a visit last month from a Wax Member who couldn’t believe how much more he had to tilt his spine to get into position.

      There’s no exact formula because of difference in body types, but if you look down at address, you should find yourself looking at a spot just to the left of your right foot.

      The 2nd part of your question actually ties into the spine tilt as well – you should feel balanced because if you watch “5 Minutes of MCS” again, you’ll see where I demonstrate that you don’t just bend to the right, but also that the hips will move left, keeping the body in balance.

      So, you should feel pretty balanced in the feet because even though you’ve moved your head to the right, the hips have moved to the left.

      Hope that helps!

      DJ

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