Ben Hogan’s classic title The Modern Fundamentals of Golf was originally published with the cover pictured at left in the March issue of Sports Illustrated magazine. It was the first part of five segments, so it actually took the public four months before they had actually been able to read the entire work. And everyone had a month to practice the tips within each installment.
The Five Lessons was an instant success. It quickly became the largest selling issue in Sports Illustrated history. The 1989 Golf Digest edition of Five Lessons includes an excerpt from an interview with Ben Hogan. Hogan stated that at the time the initial Sports Illustrated article came out, he was playing at a PGA tournament. When he went to the practice range, he saw multiple copies of the magazine being put into use by the other PGA pros at the event. Some were being being read and studied, and some pros actually laid out the magazine so that the illustrations could be seen and emulated. Hogan stated that at that point he new he had something special on his hands.
The Five Lessons was quickly released in hardcover form later in 1957 by the AS Barnes publishing house. It showed the same Ravielli image as on the cover of Sports Illustrated, with some minor changes to the text size and color. The Five Lessons in book form has become the best selling book in golf history. It has been reported that sales of the work in hardcover and paperback may have exceeded 10 million copies. It is consistently at or near the top of the golf best seller list despite the fact that it is now 53 years old.
The sales figures and performance of this classic work can clearly show that millions of people purchased and read the book. They can not show how many millions more learned the game from teachers who were influenced by Hogan’s lessons. Many of the principles in the Five Lessons are still commonly taught, re-taught, interpreted, and discussed by the today’s top golf instructors. A classic work that has stood the test of time for over half a century.