The Big 4 On Golf: Analyzing the All-Time Greats
Our top teachers; Hank Haney, Butch Harmon, David Leadbetter and Jim McLean analyze the all-time greats.
Released on 5/20/2010
[Narrator] Butch Harmon.
[Butch] You're in the fairway bunker at
six-iron distance, hit the five.
[Narrator] David Leadbetter.
[David] Just make sure that is on top of your right leg.
[Narrator] Hank Haney.
[Hank] I think the biggest contributor in golf
to somebody's potential is speed.
[Narrator] Jim McClain.
[Jim] Part of being a good chipper,
is being able to read the situation.
[Narrator] Individually they are the
top four minds in golf instruction.
Together they represent an unprecedented
meeting of the minds.
Golf Digest presents, the Big 4.
[Interviewer] First on behalf of Golf Digest,
I want to welcome you and thank you
for being here today.
This is an exciting opportunity,
and we're really happy to get the four of you together.
By way of introduction, on my left
we have Butch Harmon and Jim McClain.
On my right we have David Leadbetter and Hank Haney.
To have the Big 4, as we like to call you,
back in the office together at one table like this,
is really a special opportunity,
and I'm sure our session here today will show just that.
When we asked the readers of Golf Digest
what they want more of in the magazine,
they tell us two things.
They say they want more instruction
over and above anything else, Give me more instruction,
is what they say.
The second thing they tell us is
they want that instruction from one of the four
of you sitting at this table.
Thank you for being here,
and let's get right to the discussion.
Golf Digest has been at it for 60 years.
We started publishing in 1950,
and in that time we've seen an evolution
in golf instruction and in the golf swing itself.
We'd like to look at that evolution
in terms of the start players of their eras.
My first question is for Butch.
In 1950, Ben Hogan was the king.
What is it about Hogan's technique, the way he played
the game, that has left a legacy for golfers that follow?
[Butch] I think he left a legacy that's both good and bad.
The good part would be he was probably the most
consistent and phenomenal ball striker
of any player any of us have ever seen.
The way he controlled his ball through the air
I think was the biggest key.
The negative part was, everyone who played golf
tried to copy Hogan, and unless you had his body type
or the speed of his body and his hands,
it was pretty hard to play from such a flat position
unless you had the rotational speed that he had.
For me, watching him strike the ball,
I don't think I've ever seen anybody who could control
a golf ball through the air like Ben Hogan could.
[Narrator] Anybody else on Hogan?
[Jim] I think he left a phenomenal
legacy with his book.
I would say all of us have probably read
Hogan's writings more than anyone probably.
He was way ahead of his time on a lot of things.
He had the Hogan mystique also.
He's going to be remembered forever
for his game, and just the overall Hogan mystique,
As Butch said, the control of the golf ball,
and his ideas on playing the game.
[David] I think also the fact that when you look at his
book it was the first anatomical approach to golf.
You can actually see it's almost if you look at today
the way mechanics have been used to study the golf swing,
it was the first approach, shall we say, on that line.
When you look at the muscularity, the skeletal drawings,
it was phenomenal and I think it broke the swing down
to such an extent, so not only from a player's standpoint,
but from an instructor standpoint.
I agree with Butch, I think he messed up a lot of people
certainly with the grip itself.
Remembering that Hogan in his early years
was a huge hooker of the ball.
He did everything in his power not to hook it,
but I think the legacy that he's left,
the fact that he thought about the golf swing
more than anybody else probably before or since.
[Narrator] Specifically about his grip.
A weak grip, weak in the left hand?
[David] Let's see, if you look at his grip
in his latter days, it was very much a palmy grip,
a very, very weak grip.
I remember experimenting for three or four months,
I just couldn't hit anything but right shots.
There are people who just look to that grip.
It looks great, the way his hand,
the position on the club, it was just amazing.
They just were molded to the club.
The ability that he had, the flexibility that he had
to be able to sit the club, most players who stuck it up
that high in the palm found it very difficult to
actually get the club sit.
Take a Nick Price who has these solid wrists,
the ability to cock the club having it that high
in the palm was impossible.
I think from that standpoint, that weak grip,
I think it developed a world of slicers.
Not necessarily a nation of slicers.
[Butch] The interesting thing about that, David,
was the reason he went to that and the way he swung
was because he hooked the ball so badly.
He was doing everything in his power
to keep from hooking the ball.
Unfortunately, 80% of the people
that played, sliced the ball.
When they tried to copy Mr. Hogan's motion,
number one without that body rotation
and the speed that he had, it was tough,
it was tough for them to do it.
There isn't one of us sitting here at the table,
because we all admire Ben Hogan,
that tried to copy what he did
because we did go out and try it.
I know we did as kids.