January 8, 1999
If you subscribe to golf magazines for a long enough time, you’ll notice the repetition of some very basic lessons.
In part this is because the audience for these magazines is in a constant state of flux. Each year brings a new crop of devotees to the sport. They search for the magic bit of advice that will take them to the next level of performance.
In part, the repetition also occurs because some basic lessons should be repeated over and over again.
Golf instruction books also repeat some basic lessons. Some are less helpful than others. On the other hand, Ben Hogan’s Five Lessons has a reputation as a classic, and deserves it.
Five Lessons: The Modern Fundamentals of Golf was first published as a five part series in Sports Illustrated in the 1950’s.
The tremendous initial response to the articles, co-written with Herbert Warren Wind, led to their combined publication as a short but very popular book. Millions of copies have been sold.
As with golf magazines, good basic instruction is worth repeating, and Five Lessons’ audience is ever-changing. The book remains available in hardcover and paperback.
For those not fortunate enough to live where they can play golf year-round, this book is a useful means of preparing for the spring.
Each chapter covers a basic element of the golf swing: The Grip, Stance and Posture, Backswing, and Downswing.
The text is fairly simple, as befits the taciturn professional whose principles it describes so well. Personally, I found the chapter on the grip to be the most helpful, especially out on the course in early spring.
The last section of the book is a great summary of the elements Hogan wanted to stress, and it never hurts to remember these basics. No matter how long you’ve played golf, it always helps.
Sometimes people ignore the classics of golf instruction. They think the hot new instruction book must be better, just because it is new.
These golfers would be better off if they remembered that books like Five Lessons become classics because their value is ageless.