Tim Mahoney Golf Blog

Tim Mahoney Golf Blog


Tim Mahoney Golf Blog

Fundamentals key to success
Fundamentals key to success. 
By Tim Mahoney

Even the beginner golfer recognizes that no two players set up to the ball in exactly the same manner. The mistake is made in fastening on to these differences and assuming that every player must, therefore, have his or her own way of preparing for the shot, and that it is all a matter of preference.

Perhaps the tiny details are a matter of preference. Despite preferences, however, there are pre-swing fundamentals that enough great players keep in common so that they are regarded as sound.

The first fundamental involves getting the hands on the club in a suitable manner. A good grip starts with the glove hand.

Ideally, the glove hand should be placed on the grip so that the finger tips are not visible to the golfer looking down at address. To achieve this position, the left thumb must be placed right of center (for the right-handed player), and the club as a whole should be held in the fingers. The golfer whose glove wears out in the palm could use some work in these particulars.

As for the non-glove hand, provided the palm faces the general direction of the target the two hands should work nicely together.

Working into a proper posture, the golfer should tilt so that the club can get down to the ball. The proper tilt is from the hip sockets. If a golfer pushes his belt buckle back away from his hands at address, he’ll be on his way to a proper tilt.

The trouble to avoid here is bending too much at the knees. In a proper, athletic posture the knees should merely unlock so that they remain directly above the shoestrings.

You may have noticed that great players appear centered throughout the swing. This is easily achieved because the expert golfer addresses the ball with a straight spine. With the spine providing a straight axis around which the body can rotate, the golfer can turn away, and re-turn through the ball free of excess left, right, or up-and-down movement.

A good sense of aim, if here today, can disappear before tomorrow. It must, therefore, be conditioned constantly.

The way to know for sure that one is properly aimed is to place clubs on the ground during every practice session. Knowing the clubs are aimed directly at the target, the only thing left to do is align the feet, knees, hips, and shoulders parallel to the clubs. From this perfected aimed set-up, looking back and forth between the ball and target will condition a sense of what correct aim looks and feels like.

It’s good to keep in mind that aim is not only a matter of accuracy. In fact, even with poor aim a golfer may, over time, learn to hit the ball to the hole. To do so, however, he must adopt inefficient redirecting movements, and in doing so further widen the gap between his actual and potential skill with a golf club.

Ball Position
It is no secret to most that a consistently powerful golf swing involves a weight shift to the forward foot in the early stages of the downswing.

It can be reasoned then that one weight shift with little variation would be easiest to learn. In other words, a golfer should learn to shift the weight to the same degree when swinging a 7-iron as a 3-wood. This being the case, it is wise to adopt one ball position that works for all clubs when hit from level lies off the fairway.

For most, I suggest the ball be positioned two inches inside the left heel (again, for the right-handed player). Keeping the ball in the same place relative to the left leg will allow the golfer to learn one shift that works for every club. Granted, the stance for a 3-wood is a bit wider than for a 7-iron, so the casual observer may point out that the ball appears more forward when using the longer club. Still, the ball remains in the same place relative to the forward foot for all shots hit from the grass from level lies.

Keep in mind that in-swing fundamentals only have meaning if preceded by correct pre-swing fundamentals. The good news is that after adhering to a proper set-up –grip, posture, aim and ball position—what follows becomes easier to achieve.