Tim Mahoney Golf Blog

Tim Mahoney Golf Blog


Tim Mahoney Golf Blog

Megan Thompson
Megan Thompson
Megan Thompson's Blog

Find your distance potential

“Find your distance potential”

By Tim Mahoney


One of the keys to playing golf in this era is to hit the ball long.  As golf courses continue to be designed longer and more difficult, hitting the ball with power allows players the best chance to score.  Although Tiger Woods has possibly the greatest short game in the history of the game, it is also a huge advantage the he has been consistently ranked among the longest hitters during his career.  How can you hit it longer?


Quite simply, there are two keys to hitting it long:  solid contact and speed.  Hitting the ball in the center of the face with maximum speed will allow you to hit it as far as you can.  This combined with the latest in club and ball technology can help you find your true distance potential.


The first thing you should determine is if you hit the ball solidly with your current swing.  The easiest test is to use face tape that can be found at most golf shops.  Place a piece of tape on your club and hit a shot.  The ball will make a mark on the tape which will show you your contact point.  Hopefully you will find you are consistently finding the center of the clubface.  Make sure you test both woods and irons as you want solid contact with all clubs.


If you find that your contact is not as solid as you would like, look at two things to improve your swing.  Make sure your posture at set up and throughout your swing is in an athletic position that you maintain during your swing.  Good posture will help you swing the club around your body consistently “on plane” which leads to center hits.


Once you are satisfied with your contact point, the next key to distance is trying to increase your swing speed.  In the golf swing there are three power sources that will help you swing the club faster.  The combination of proper wrist action, an arm swing that puts the club in position throughout the swing and a powerful body pivot that supports the swinging action of the club will allow the club to swing consistently and produce power.


Finally, if you feel you are making solid contact and are using your power sources, make sure your equipment fits your swing.  Clubs and balls that are fitted specifically for your swing will probably give you an extra few yards as well.


Learning to hit the ball longer is a very fun part of the improvement process. Examine your current swing and determine your needs.  With a little practice, hopefully you will find a few more yards.


Remember if you do hit the ball farther, you will have shorter approach shots to the hole.  It is important to work hard on short game distance control so you can take advantage of your distance and hit it closer.  This should take pressure off your putting game and allow you to improve your scoring average.



Distance and Direction to better scoring




Distance and Direction to better scoring

By Tim Mahoney


All gofers no matter what the handicap level should attempt to control distance and direction.  An improvement in consistency is the effect of a compatible golf swing.  When golfers attempt swing changes without regard to keeping a balanced or compatible swing, inconsistency is the result.  Golf swings can be upright, Jack Nicklaus, flat Ben Hogan, shut face David Duval or an open face Nancy Lopez; as long as all the parts are compatible consistency is the result.

A weak grip should be balanced with a forward ball position, centered pivot, open face, swing path that is out to in and aggressive hand action through impact.  A stronger grip should be balanced with a centered ball position, closed face, path from in to out and an aggressive body motion through impact.

There has never been a perfect golf swing, and probably never will.  Keep your golf swing balanced and compatible and you will have consistent results.


Golfers are constantly striving for more distance.  Trying out new clubs, improved physical conditioning and the latest secret in a golf publication in an attempt to add an extra 10-20 yards.  All of these changes are good, but the number one influence on distance is a combination of club head speed and solid contact.  One without the other simply results in short off line tee-shots.

Speed is the effect of wristcock, arm swing and torso turn.  Maximize all power sources in a balanced manner will result in an increase in speed.  Solid contact is the result of a path that is from the inside to along to inside.  Swing the club on the manufactured angle with the arms in front of the trunk will produce the correct path, resulting in a square hit.

All golfers should be striving for balanced controlled distance for improved scoring.  Club head speed combined with solid contact is a guaranteed means of increased distance.




Ball position: The Debate Continues

Ball position: The Debate Continues

By Tim Mahoney


One of the interesting concepts about the golf swing is the position of the ball with-in your stance.  One school of thought mentions a ball position in the same spot and another mentions a ball position that moves with the club.  At the Mahoney and Troon Golf Academy we believe that the ball position is the effect of the desired swing angle at the ball and the golfers basic swing tendency.  Keep in mind our ultimate goal is to produce a solid strike every time a golfers hits a shot.  The ball position is constantly being adjusted during a practice session or a round of golf. 


The ball position is the effect of your desired impact goals, swing tendencies and the design of the club.  As the club length is varied and the club head design is implemented the basic ball position will be adjusted as well. Shorter irons with more loft the ball will be farther back in the stance and a wood club with less loft and the shaft behind the ball will have a more forward ball position.


The desired angle of approach of the club head at impact will effect the ball position as well.  A short game shot that requires a significant amount of back spin and a steeper angle of approach, the golf ball should be positioned back in your stance. A driving club with a golfer’s objective of distance with ground speed requires a shallow angle of approach or slightly upward, a forward ball position is needed. All golfers need to keep in mind that the position of the ball at set-up in relation to your feet and head will effect the angle the club approaches the ball.  Ball back-steep angle and a ball forward shallows the angle.


During a round of golf the goal is to get the ball into the hole in the lowest amount of attempts.  Your golf swing is constantly changing as your body and mind set changes as well.  If your swing path is too much in to out, your golf club will bottom out behind the ball.  This swing path will result in a ball position farther back in your stance.  A swing path that is out to in will produce a swing bottom forward of the ball and a more forward ball position.  Golfers need to adapt to the playing positions and your golf swing.


Lower scores are the effect of the golfer adapting to the swing and conditions.  Keep in mind that the golf ball relationship within your stance is constantly moving and being adjusted.  A cemented position will produce inconsistencies and an adjusted ball position will result in lower scores.


Speed and Strength through Structure

Speed and Strength through Structure

By Tim Mahoney

All golfers from Rory Milroy to Lydia Ko are in constant attempts to generate more speed and strength throughout their golfing motion.  Golfers we see throughout our golf schools are attempting more speed and strength as well.  The only way to generate more speed and gain speed is to have stability and structure throughout the entire motion of the golf swing.  The old adage, “would you rather shoot a cannon from a canoe or a stable surface.”  More speed and strength through a stable surface.  Golfers must develop stability first before attempting speed and strength

Structure starts at address with a balanced posture and set-up.  Bending from your hips with a neural spine.  Weight on the balls of your feet.  Arms hanging directly from your shoulders with your feet shoulder width apart.  Body must be in a position where the muscles are holding and supporting the movement.  Feet hold the ground as your hands hold the club.  Bending from your hips with a small amount of knee bend.  Body must be tall and balanced.  This position will provide structure throughout your golf swing.

As the arms swing, body turns and wristcock golfers must maintain the structure established at address.  The feet continue to hold the ground.  Maintain the bend in your hips and the neutral spine.  Body turns freely as you maintain the structure stability and positions.  Maintain angles and positions. 

As the arms swing, body unturns and wrist uncock to impact the structure and stability established at address, top must be maintained.  Body turns around a fixed point.  The fixed point established at address and maintained throughout the motion. Dynamic motion through a static structure position. 

As the body unwinds, arms release, wrist uncock and the club released, structure is maintained throughout the entire motion.  Bend maintained, angles and lines kept through structure.  Speed and strength the effect of stability and structure.  Maintain structure for a strong and fast golf swing.


Fairway Bunkers


Fairway Bunker’s 

By Tim Mahoney


Fairway bunker shots are regarded as some of the more difficult in the game.  Adding distance, a high lip and a difficult lie and the task is almost impossible.  There are several myths when it comes to fairway bunker shots, and I hope to dispel some of those this week.  Golfers, must keep in mind, when facing a bad lie (bad lie is defined as when there is question about the lie), the first objective is to advance the ball to a good lie.  Second objective, never attempt a miracle shot after a poor one.  Finally, never attempt a shot that you have not practiced.  Keeping these objectives in mind, fairway bunker shots will become an easier task.


When faced with a fairway bunker shot, preparation is the most important element.  Keys for the set-up:

1.       Club choice- take enough loft to clear the lip.  Golfers should never hear “ball-thump.”  As a reference 1 more club should be utilized.  High lofted fairway woods are an excellent club of choice, assuming limited loft is need. 

2.       Position the golf ball back in your stance.  Your impact objective is a steeper angle of approach, striking the ball first and sand after.  The rearward ball position will assist in steepening the angle.

3.       Gripping down on the club.  Shorten the club about an inch.  The shortened club will reduce the chance of striking the sand prior the ball.

4.       Dig your feet into the sand about an inch.  The lowering of your feet will reduce the amount of lower body motion during the swing.  Excessive amount of lower body slide will result in an incorrect bottom of the swing.

5.       Lean your body weight towards the target.  As you lean your weight allow the grip end to move towards the target.  The weight and the hand adjustment will move your swing bottom towards the target, resulting in a steeper angle of approach.


The adjustments in your set-up will steeper the angle resulting in ball/sand contact.  Checkpoints during the motion:

1.       Make a balanced swing.  Holding your finish until the ball comes to a rest guarantees success.  Inability to hold the finish is an indication of an out of balance motion.

2.       Allow the upper body to wind against the lower body on the backswing.  The lower body must resist and hold.  The coil generated is a power source.  If the lower body does not hold, the swing bottom will occur behind the ball, resulting in sand and ball contact.

3.       Maintain swing posture throughout the motion.  Turn the upper body on the backswing and clear the lower body on the forward side.  Golfers must maintain their measurement and posture throughout the motion.  A conscious attempt to lift the ball will result in a shallow angle.


Golf is a unique game, due to the fact; they never face the same shot twice.  Consistency is the result of developing a repeating swing motion. Pre swing adjustments are utilized when faced with different lies.  Golfers should 1 swing with different set-ups.  Perfect your swing, make a few simple address adjustments and the fairway bunker shot will be a simple one.


Sand Play





Sand Play

By Tim Mahoney


Sand play is often regarded as the easiest shot in golf, due to the fact, that the club never comes in contact with the ball during a greenside bunker shot.  As a result of over 30 years in the golf instruction business, I have found that the greenside bunker shot maybe the most difficult.  There are several myths when it comes to this shot:  first of all, “you must hit 2” behind the ball, actually with the skidding effect of the bounce the clubs enters the sand approx. 3-4 inches behind the ball.  Attempting to strike 2 inches behind may result in club ball contact.  Second myth, due to the clubface open at address one must aim to the left. The golf ball is positioned forward in the stance  (off of left heel) and no club ball contact the golf ball travels in the direction of the swing path not the clubface.  Keeping this in mind there is no need to aim left.  Third myth, you must swing more upright.  Ninety percent of all golfers slice the ball due to an upright swing; swing more upright simply produces a weak glancing hit that will travel a short distance to the right.  And the final myth, you must look and aim behind the ball.  All shots in golf you make every attempt to strike the ball first, now we are told to strike the sand first.  If you make 2 adjustments in your set-up: ball positioned off of the left heel and lower your body in the sand you will automatically strike the sand first.  Look at the ball and attempt to hit it.


Consistent sand play is the effect of:

1.       Adjust the clubface according to the lie.  Good lie open the face, bad lies close the face.  As you adjust the club you must use the entire club.  You never grip down on a greenside bunker shot.

2.       Position the golf ball off the left heel.  This position will allow the club to enter the sand behind the ball.

3.       Lower your body in the sand by digging in.  This adjustment will allow the club to get beneath the ball.

4.       Align and swing towards the target.  The golf ball travels along the swing path not the clubface alignment.

5.       Make 3 times the amount of swing.  The amount of sand ways 3 times the weight of the ball.  Keeping this in mind you must make enough swing.


Trust the club and your full swing for the green side bunker shot.  Keep in mind that consistency is the effect of perfecting one swing shape and make pre-swing adjustments for different shots.


How to Aim



How to Aim

By Tim Mahoney


A perfectly struck shot with an imperfect aim results in an imperfect result.  An imperfect shot with a perfect aim could result in a perfect shot.  The art of aiming I believe is the single most difficult aspect in the game, due to the fact that the golfer is inside and above the ball line.  I have been in the instruction arena for over 30 years and have tried every aiming tip with my students, and have come up with the conclusion that all good aimers have 2 common traits: a consistent ball flight and they always aim the clubface first and body second.


Consistent Ball Flight


Golf swing and pre swing compatibility will develop a consistent ball flight.  For an example: strong grip, centered ball position, body supports golf club and a reverse K posture these alignments will produce a controlled draw.  Conversely, a weaker grip, forward ball position, X posture and an arm control will produce a controlled fade.  Uncontrolled ball flights make a consistent aim impossible.  Hooks followed by a slice develop an atmosphere where it is impossible to aim.  Develop a consistent ball flight and then develop your game plan for aiming.


Clubface Followed by Torso


The only contact with the ball is the clubface.  Consistent aimers align the club first followed by the torso.  Step 1 of a consistent aimer is positioning the clubface behind the ball with the completed grip.  During this alignment the golfer must align the leading edge at right angle to the target line.  After successfully aligning the clubface the golfer must position the body parallel to the intended starting line.  The golf ball and club head would be on the outside rail of a railroad track with the body on the inside rail.  The body will be parallel left.  A line across the eyes, shoulders, forearms, hips, knees and feet must be aligned parallel left.  Inconsistent aimers consistently check there feet, when the feet are only 1 piece of the aiming puzzle.  Aiming is guaranteed if you aim the leading edge at your intended target line and then aim your body parts parallel left.  Your golf club will approach the impact area on a line across your shoulders; as a result it is an imperative that the golfers position their trunk parallel left.


Develop a consistent ball fight with a compatible set of pre-swing and in swing fundamentals and as you aim, position the club with your body aligned parallel left.  Consistent aiming is the effect of a consistent ball-flight not the cause.


Utilize Ground Forces for increased clubhead Speed


Utilize Ground Forces for increased clubhead Speed

During my 20 years working with Bob Toski in the Golf Digest Schools, Bob would state daily during our sessions, “ The hands grip the club and the feet grip the ground.”  As Player Development activity has improved with the utilization of Trackman, K Vest, Gears and 2-D video one area of development is lagging: understanding the force of the ground.  As I instruct throughout the world, one simple ingredient is being utilized in increased club head speed for all golfers: using the ground throughout the dynamic motion of the swing. Golf shoe technology has greatly improved and the feet, ankles and toes have room to launch and grip the ground.  Golfers slight in weight and leverage have found ways to increase speed simply by using the ground in the swing.  A simple thought, “ are we more powerful with a cannon from a canoe or from a firm surface?” 

Ground forces start at address with a firm ground and posture.  Arms hanging freely, weight on the middle of the ankles, bending from hips and spine at a neutral position.  Stability at address allows the body to load and unload throughout the swing.  Feet and ankles must have the mobility to load and unload.

As you wind up into the backswing, allow the upper body to wind against the lower body and ground.  Spine is tilt away from the target as the body is turned against the feet and ground.  The gluts are lowered and activated as you wind against the ground.  There should be a slight lowering of the head during the backswing as you wind up.

Explode during the downswing into impact.  All muscles must fire as the trailing leg is extended and lengthens.  This movement of thrusting upward creates a swing path and angle of approach upward through impact.  Lead glut is turning behind as the trailing leg is straightening.  Pushing off of the balls of the feet as the heels rise off the ground through impact.  Low to high concept as the golfer explodes through impact.  Using th3 ground on the backswing and downswing.  Ground forces throughout the golf swing.

The most misunderstood concept in golf is the use and utilization of ground forces.  Low to high as the golfers loads and explodes.  Use the ground as the legendary golf instructor Bob Toski mentions, “ hands grip the club as the feet grip the ground.”





Controlling Trajectory in the Short Game


Controlling Trajectory in the Short Game

By Tim Mahoney


In executing short game shots, inside 50 yards (pitches and chips), a player’s ability to control the ball’s flight trajectory can be just as important as controlling the ball’s direction and overall distance.  A golfer has options to create consistent ball flight trajectory and as a result consistent shot patterns swing after swing.


Option One – Ball Choice:

A golfer’s choice of golf ball will have an affect on a golf ball’s flight characteristics.  It is the dimples on a golf ball that are responsible for its flight characteristics.  Their design (size, shape and pattern) will help dictate the ball’s trajectory.  The size and depth of the dimples affect performance.  Shallow dimples generate more spin on a golf ball than deep dimples, which increases loft and causes the ball to rise and stay in the air longer and roll less, which is advantageous when playing to elevated greens.  Deep dimples generate less spin on a golf ball than shallow dimples, which decrease loft and causes the ball to stay on a lower trajectory, with less air time and greater roll, which is advantageous when playing to low elevated greens. 


Option Two – Ball Position:

A correct ball position helps you contact the ball crisply and achieve the proper trajectory on the shot.  Ball position affects the path and the angle of approach the club takes into the ball which ensures a consistent loft angle of the club at impact.  With the ball positioned too far forward, your shoulders align left of the target, thus creating a swing path that is too steep and out-to-in.  If you locate the ball too far back toward your right foot, your shoulders are closed, which creates a swing path that is too shallow and in-to-out.  You will be able to produce consistent ball flight trajectories only if the ball is positioned correctly in your stance.  For chip shots, position the ball about two inches back of center.  You want to strike the ball with a descending angle of approach creating a low trajectory, running shot.  For all wedges and pitch swings from normal lies position the ball in the exact center of your stance.


Option Three – Swing Technique:

To create a low trajectory chip or pitch shot, set your hands slightly ahead of the ball.  A forward hand position will naturally de-loft the clubface, helping to start the ball on a low trajectory.  Also, concentrate on making a rhythmic swing with a slightly slower tempo on the forward swing.  A slower tempo will produce less spin, helping to keep the ball on a low trajectory.  Stay level with your hips as you swing through impact.  Feel as though the handle of the club leads the clubhead through the hitting area to prevent adding loft to the clubface at impact.  A low trajectory shot means a low finish.  The lower you want to hit it, the lower you want to finish, not only with the hands and arms, but with the clubhead as well.  While it is okay to play the ball back in you stance to produce a lower trajectory, it is not advantageous to play the ball forward in your stance as a means of getting a higher trajectory.  Playing the ball forward in you stance moves it ahead of the bottom of your natural swing arc.  To hit a higher shot, the first choice should always be to take a more lofted club and make your standard swing.  The second choice is to open the clubface, aim your swing line to the left of the target and keep the ball exactly in the center of your stance.  Keeping the ball in the middle of your stance ensures crisp contact.


Option Four – Club Selection:

The easiest way to vary shot trajectory from a normal lie is to choose a higher degree lofted club or choose a lower degree lofted club.  If you need a higher soft landing shot, choose a lob (60 degrees), sand (56 degrees), gap (52 degrees), or a pitching wedge (48 degrees).  If you need a lower running shot, choose a 9 iron (39 degrees), 8 iron (34 degrees), 7 iron (30 degrees), or 6 iron (26 degrees).  It is easier than creating a different swing or changing your mechanics.  Clubs are designed with the clubface having different lofts.  It is loft that makes a golf ball take flight on an ascending trajectory, not an upward direction of swing.  The club actually hits the ball in a horizontal or slightly downward angle. 


Choose the option that works best for your game.  Your golf ball selection will be based on the design of the golf course that you’ll be playing.  Under normal lie conditions, you’ll want to maintain a consistent ball position for crisp club to ball contact.  Vary the length of your swing technique to produce low or high trajectories.  And choose your club wisely.  Practice with different lofted clubs and observe the ball flight trajectory patterns.  Take your observations to the golf course.


Ben Hogan’s Plane of Glass

Ben Hogan’s Plane of Glass

By Tim Mahoney


The legendary golfer and technician Ben Hogan in 1946 developed the swing concept of an angle the club needs to swing:  Swing plane or simply the shape of the swing.  Throughout the years a debate has developed regarding the angle or plane of the swing:  1 or a 2 plane motion.  Within the Mahoney and Troon Golf Academy we believe that it is not a 1 or a 2 plane motion, simply an on-plane swing that is determined by the club and your posture.  The angle or plane that you swing the club on determines the centerness of the strike, the ability to square your club face at impact and the amount of divot.  Swing plane is not a ball flight law, but simply, a golf swing preference.


The backswing plane can be viewed as an inclined angle taken at address running up the shoulders from the ball.  The left arm controls the shape of the backswing, the shoulders, arms, hands and club should rotate and swing on this angle and not deviate from the intended angle.  Swinging on this determined angle will allow the upper and lower body the ability to turn freely on both sides of the swing.  Once golfers understand how to swing to the top of the backswing they will solve consistency problems.


During the downswing motion, the golf club MUST swing under and below the back swing plane.  The shallowing of the club on the downswing is a significant power boost at impact.  The slight lateral shift of the hips towards the target as the upper body is turning back, allows for a “flattening” of the downswing plane.  As the hips are sliding laterally, the right elbow connects to the side as the left hips turns behind.  Hands or shoulders starting the downswing establishes an over the top or steep angle.  Steepness in the downswing causes toe hits, open club face and a decrease in club head speed.  Create a flatter downswing as compared to the backswing results in greater power and consistency.


Drills that will assist in creating this angle:  baseball swings above the ball and chip shots where the club stays below your hands on both sides.  These drills will allow you to focus primarily on the shape of the swing and the intended plane.


Club face, angle of attack, centeredness of hit, club head speed and swing path are the ball flight laws that effect every shot from a putt to a chip, to a full drive.  Ben Hogan’s plane of glass or swing plane is every gofer preference to golf excellence.  Swinging the club on the intended angle, determined by the club and your posture will provide longer, straighter and more solid strikes.