Golf Swing Drill: Learn to Keep Your Head Still From Ben Hogan

Posted by GolfTipEditor | | , ,

Symptom:  You hit a bad shot and then say to yourself, "I didn't keep my head still and watch the ball that time," but you don't really know if that was the problem.  Come to think of it, you don't really know what it means to keep your head still and watch the ball, since you've never known when you've done it right, only when you (might have) done it wrong...

Overview:  Hold a golf tee in your lips.  At address, point the tee at the ball, and keep it pointed at the ball throughout your backswing, on the downswing, and through impact.

Why it works:  "Keep your head still" and "Watch the ball" are some of the most widely heard pieces of golfing advice on the planet.  The trouble, of course, is that they are usually uttered after a bad shot has been hit!  What use is this?  Almost none.  Wouldn't it be great if you could know, without the help of a coach, if your head really was still, and if you really were watching the ball as you execute your swing?  Wouldn't it be great to know how it feels to do it right, so you can duplicate that feeling on the course?

There is a simple way.

Ben Hogan golf Chesterfield cigarette advertisement
Hogan with Cigarette and Driver

Let's have the great Ben Hogan demonstrate for us.  Ben was a smoker, and he had a Chesterfield in his lips as he was hitting balls on the range back in 1956 when this video was shot.  (At least I assume it's a Chesterfield -- Ben was a pitch man for Chesterfield in those days, see picture at right.)  His smoking habit is fortunate for us, because his cigarette points where he is looking throughout his swing.  The cigarette acts as a marker for where his eyes are pointing, providing insight to us that we wouldn't otherwise have.

Watch the start of this video, especially the slow motion footage of Hogan hitting a short iron between (0:28) and (0:46).  The rest of the video is good too, of course (who doesn't like watching the great Hogan swing?)

Here are three pictures of Hogan just after the takeaway, at the top of the backswing, and just after impact.  The cigarette just keeps pointing at the ball!  To do this, he first looks straight down (address), then over his left shoulder (top of backswing), and then over his right shoulder (impact).

Ben Hogan golf swing sequence head still cigarette in mouth
Hogan points his cigarette at the ball at address, on the takeaway, on the backswing, on the downswing, and just after impact.

This is what is meant by "keep your head still".  The head and neck swivel as needed to keep the eyes fixed on the ball.  Indeed, it would be more accurate to say "allow your head to swivel relative to your rotating shoulders such that your eyes and head remain fixed on and pointed at the ball through impact".  This doesn't exactly roll off the tongue, but it's much closer to the truth.

Which brings us back to the Golf Drill at hand.  Simply put a tee in your lips as you hit balls, point it at the ball, and be conscious of exactly where the tee points as you swing.  At first you will be surprised to find that even though you "think" you are keeping your head still, the tee sticking out of your mouth doesn't lie.  You may be swaying off the ball on the backswing, or jerking your head around and casting on the downswing, or whatever.  Make the necessary adjustments in your swing to keep the tee in your lips aimed at the ball and you'll soon find that you are making more solid contact.

More importantly, you will get immediate feedback before you hit the ball, while you are swinging, on how it feels to keep your head still.  This is the true payoff of this drill.  This is knowledge you can internalize, build upon, and take with you to the course.

And if you think you are straying a bit during your round, you can simply put a tee in your mouth and find out for sure!

Did you like this article? Several people I have shown this Drill to have refused to spit out the tee once they see what a difference it makes!  If you are one too, then please tell your friends!  Like, Share, Tweet, Email, or +1 Below!

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