The Final Missing Piece of Ben Hogan’s Secret Puzzle by V.J. Trolia and Dave Hamilton www.thefinalmissingpiece.com
$29.95 It has captivated golf professionals, swing theorists and self-professed students of the game for more than half a century – the tantalizing prospect of a secret key to golf’s most analyzed, critiqued and deconstructed swing.
It’s hard to believe that more than 50 years after Ben Hogan’s heyday, the game’s swing intelligentsia are still mystified by golf’s own version of the Da Vinci Code: what hitch of the hips or twist of the wrist transformed this sullen, hook-saddled young journeyman into one of the game’s greatest ballstrikers?
OK, so maybe they’re not about to turn this one into a Tom Hanks movie, but Mississippi teaching pro V.J. Trolio and
math-minded engineer Dave Hamilton, together the inventors of the Putting Arc training aid, do manage to breathe new life
into an age-old conspiracy theory in the not-so-subtly titled The Final Missing Piece of Ben Hogan’s Secret Puzzle ($29.95 US, VJE LLC, 2007).
Trolio and Hamilton – with an editing assist from Canadian golf writer and PR man Tim O’Connor, author of The Feeling of
Greatness: The Moe Norman Story – are convinced they’ve discovered the key to the Hogan swing that the man himself went to some pains to hide, or at the very least camouflage, from public view.
It is, for instance, conspicuously absent from a 1955 article by Hogan in Life magazine – the genesis of his seminal book, Five
Lessons:TheModern Fundamentals ofGolf, long considered themost popular sports instruction book ever
“Ihave a secret,”Hoganwrote inthe article.“It is easy to see, if I tell you where to look.” He never did, according to Trolio. “Most of the sequence shots of (Hogan’s) swing were not taken while he competed or when he was preparing for competition,” he writes. “In my analysis of the limited available video footage ofHogan, it appeared that the post-accident Hogan showed a different swing to the camera than the swing he employed while competing. The missing piece is most clearly visible in footage of Hogan's competitive swings.”
Trolio, of course, doesn’t pull his punches the way Hogan did – the “secret” is on page 24, in bold, underlined, all-caps text tomake sure you don’t miss it.
If you want to know what it is, you’ll have to buy the book – or at least thumb through it the next time you’re trolling the sports section at your local bookstore.
The Final Missing Piece is, first and foremost, a book for those with an appetite for swing theory and at least a rudimentary understanding of FiveLessons. The book goes into a level of detail that only Hogan himself could have appreciated.
And while the book is unlikely to hold much mass appeal for readers with only passing interest in Hogan and his game; for
those over whom the Hawk still holds sway, it’s a treasure trove of new perspectives.
This much is clear: Hogan’s backswing motion had a subtle but definable hitch in the swings that mattered the most to him.
Trolio’s passion for his pursuit shines through a convincing, well-supported argument that lays out precisely howthemove fit
into Hogan’s overall ball-striking strategy.
Doubtless, The FinalMissing Piece will facilitate a better and clearer understanding of one of the game’s most analyzed swings and its brooding, mercurial architect. It gives new clarity to the seminal ideas in FiveLessons, and provides another fresh look at one of the game’smost compelling personalities.
But the notion of a Hogan secret remains one of the most enduring and charming legacies of golf’s golden age, one that by now has grown too powerful to be eclipsed even by an argument as convincing as Trolio’s.