Tim Mahoney Golf Blog

Tim Mahoney Golf Blog


Tim Mahoney Golf Blog

Green Reading- An Art or Science?
An Art or a Science
By Tim Mahoney

All great putters from Bobby Locke to Ben Crenshaw, share the unique talent of superb green reading.  Consistent putting is the combination of distance control, directional control and the ability to read a green.  I have been in the golf instruction arena for over 30 years and I believe that green reading is an art not a learned science.  Consistent green reading consist of the following:

1.       All golf courses have some type of a prevailing break.  Away from mountains, towards the water or towards the setting sun.  At the Westin Kierland Golf Club in Scottsdale Arizona where I conduct he majority of my winter instruction, the general rule is that “all putts will break towards Phoenix,” based on the elevation and the roll of the land.  When checking into the golf shop for the next round of golf, asked the professional staff the green breaking tendency.
2.       As you approach the putting surface look for areas of drainage.  The golf ball will generally break in the direction of water runoff.  The golf ball will generally break towards lakes, creeks, ponds and drainage bunkers.
3.       As you read your putt, you want to align yourself behind the ball on the target line as close to the ground as possible.  In this position you are reviewing the overall direction of the putt.  Imagine if you were to pour water over the line of the putt, where would the water run.  This is the direction of the break.
4.       Walk to the halfway point on the low side of the putt.  From here, you are reviewing the overall distance of the putt.  It is much easier to measure something from the side than it is from behind.
5.       Next, walk to the hole, from here you are reviewing any sudden breaks at the cup, grain direction and reviewing the direction.  (Grain direction is indicated at the cup by any worn areas inside the hole.  A worn edge will indicate the direction of the grain.  A shiny look will indicate grain growing away from you, a faster putt, a dull look, the grain growing towards you and a slower putt.)
6.       Speed will always determine the break.  Less speed means more break and speedier putts means less break.  When I am asked by a golfer,” which way will this putt break,’ I ask the golfer “how much speed is required?” (Aim putter string)

Directional control, distance control and the ability to read a putt are the keys to excellent putting.  Your first read is always the correct one.  Trust your read, stick with a consistent routine, aim the putter and your body and react to the target.

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.