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Lest we forget, golf has long been a shotmaker’s game.  The era of perfect putting surfaces, solid core distance balls, and 46 inch 460cc clubheads is still in its infancy. The greater annals of golfing history are filled with men and women who distinguished themselves through the quality of their striking, breadth of imagination, and mental fortitude to physically create what once existed only in the mind’s eye.   The ability to work the ball – left, right, high, low, off sidehills and downslopes, tight lies and hardpan, different grass types and in varying weather conditions – was of paramount importance to championship caliber golf.  Classic courses of the persimmon age demanded it.  Shotmaking Corner will serve, I hope, to preserve a few bits and pieces of the once great body of knowledge of the great shotmakers should the next generation express a desire to  direct the game back towards a more traditional form.


The Right Thumb Drop-Off Fade by Ben Hogan via Mike Maves

I probably don’t give the guys over at Secret in the Dirt enough credit.  Elkington, Maves and friends have done a great job of building a social network that connects golfers and it’s done within a framework that promotes and honors traditional forms of golf.  But before Mike Maves ever became the face of “Golf’s Greatest Social Network”, he was releasing YouTube videos under the monicker ” Sevam1″.  Rich in content if not production quality, Sevam was dishing out choice nuggets of swing insight – all rooted in respect and appreciation for the master practitioners of the persimmon and hickory age.

One of my favorite videos from Sevam is the “Right Thumb Drop-Off”, shown below. Within, Maves describes the subtle differences between hand attitudes from the backswing into the downswing and further on to impact.  Demonstrating the options for what Hogan coined the “swing wreckers” (right thumb and index finger), Maves takes us through the move and its intentions, the resulting ballflight, and even the theoretical motivations for the timing of the move. 

Of course, the discerning golfer will know to be wary of observation based learning as it relates the golf swing.  Feel vs. real, intentions vs. vapor trails, etc.  Agendas and bias remain ever-present in the ridiculous world of internet golf analysis (even I am not immune! :) ).  Even so, let’s check the tape to see if there is any supporting evidence for the Drop-Off Fade.  Here are some Hogan stills in which the right hand is visible.  Of course we have no idea if Hogan would have been using the fade for the captured shot…we’ll need to do a few to have a chance to catch it.


Nothing to see here – he’s got those fingers tight, 5-Lessons style.


Blurry but it doesn’t seem to have dropped off…


It’s possible but it might just be the angle of the shot…


Have we found the right thumb dropoff?! I see some space here – quite a bit different from the first image up top and both were struck with an iron!


I think we have a winner! Is this the drop-off fade as described by Maves?  I don’t know but much like Agent Mulder of the X Files, I WANT TO BELIEVE.


One Response to “Shotmaking Corner – Ben Hogan’s “Right Thumb Drop-Off Fade””

  1. Avatar of In the Dirt In the Dirt says:

    I know one guy who dropped his thumb off but he kept it off start to finish and he was a pretty decent player who was known to hit a nice little butter fade.

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