Tim Mahoney Golf Blog

Tim Mahoney Golf Blog


Tim Mahoney Golf Blog

Putting 101
Putting 101
By Tim Mahoney

Poor putters have more clubs than strokes and great putters have a putter that matches their putting motion.  Recently during a Mahoney Golf Academy session at the Troon North Golf Club, I had my assistant place all of the students putter along a wall in the golf shop.  Twenty students where in the session and only half of them could find their putters.  Moral of story, great putters have a putter that matches the motion and poor putters blame the equipment.

Basically, there are 2 types of putters or equipment available to a golfer:  a face balanced putter or a shaft balanced putter.  A face balanced putter is a club that is balanced from heel to toe and is built in a manner where the club swings straight back and forth on both sides of the swing and remains square on both sides of the swing. A shaft balanced putter is a club designed to swing inside to allow to inside on both sides of the swing and the face should open to close. 

Golfers who prefer a balanced putter should address the following:  Hold the club in the palm of hands, stand close the golf ball with your eyes over the target line, hold the club tightly in your arms and hands.  As you swing the golf club keep the club face looking at the ball or target on both sides of the swing and focus on the shoulders producing the power source of the motion.

Golfers who prefer a shaft balanced putter should address the following:  Hold the clubs in the fingers of both hands, stand tall with your eyes inside the target line with a loose arm and finger hold.  As you swing the club allows your arms to control the speed and move the club inside on both sides of the motion.  The club face should open on the back swing and close on the forward side of your motion.

Jack Nicklaus produced a motion where the putter swung straight back and forth on both sides and Ben Crenshaw and Phil Mickelsen produced a motion where the putter swung inside to inside on both sides.  Two different motions but had great results.  Pick a golf club or putter that matches your eye or motion.

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.

Drive for Show
Drive for Show
By Tim Mahoney

The phrase “Drive for show and putt for dough” has been apart of the game of golf since the early Scott’s started hitting rocks into the rabbit holes, as they tended to there sheep.  Consistent putter’s always finish around the top of the leader board and are the lower handicap player’s at our clubs.  But, also keep in mind that golfer’s who miss fairways never get to the green to attempt a putt.  Putting attributes to approximately 42% of total strokes and woods 23%, but we must get the ball into play, in order to advance towards the putting surface.  Consistent drivers have the following fundamentals:

1.       A mind-set of conservative off of the tee and aggressive around the greens.  Get the ball somewhere in the fairway.  Corners and doglegs are not meant to be carried, they are meant to play around.  If you can’t find the fairway with your driver use your 3-wood, if you can’t find it with your 3-wood use your 5 and so on.
2.       Thirteen clubs 1 swing.  If you were to ask any consistent player they would tee you, “I have 1 swing, but I have 13 different set-ups.”  A waist high to waist high swing is always at right angles to the positioning of your spine.  At address the club is positioned at right angles to your spine.  As the clubs get longer or shorter your posture will be affected, longer clubs, wider stance and less bend at address, shorter clubs narrow stance and more bend.  The change in spine tilt will affect the plane or angle of the swing.  The club is always swung around your spine, with the spine as the hub. 
3.       Distance=Swing speed+ solid contact.  Speed is the result of utilizing all power sources (body, arms and wrist) during a balance motion.  Solid contact is the result of a proper swing shape as you maintain the hub (spine.)
4.       Utilize friendly and conforming equipment.  Longer shafts, larger club heads, lower center of gravity and distance balls will assist with distance and direction control.  Overly stiff shafts and lower lofted clubs make driving much more difficult.

Lower scores and consistency is the result of fairways hit, greens in regulation, consistent wedge play and distance control in putting.  Consistency starts with fairways hit.  The average tour player hits 9.5 fairways per round, the fairways they miss the ball is on the property. Controlled driving means lower scores.  The old Scott’s had wide pastures and short holes.

Drills for successful practice sessions
Drills for successful practice sessions
By Tim Mahoney

After observing the practice sessions at the 2014 Masters tournament I noticed significant change in the manner of practice from the elite tour players: golfers utilizing drills into their practice routine.  Tiger Woods, Rory McElroy to Lee Westwood, all golfers utilizing a movement or practice swing to isolate a muscle movement or change.  The old age of “practice makes perfect,” had been amended to “perfect practice makes perfectly permanent.”  All level of golfers needs to develop a movement or thought that will allow them to incorporate the needed change.  At the Mahoney and Troon Golf Academy we have developed several drills that will assist all golfers with the quest of perfecting the movement.

Right Arm Drill- the right arm controls the shaft into the downswing and through the impact area.  The club must fall as the body turns.  A great drill that we have created is the right arm throw exercise.  Hold a golf ball into your right hand and simulate a backswing with your right hand and arm.  To simulate the down swing:  hold your trunk in place and attempt to throw the ball and strike the ball on the ground.  This drill will produce the desired straightening of the right arm and the correct angle of approach.  A ball released on the target side of the ball the arm plane to steep and a ball released prior to the ball on the ground is to shallow.  Hit the ball on the ground and your plane and release are correct.

Right hand in arm only for putting drill- controlling distance is the secret to successful putting.  A drill that will assist all golfers with this goal is putting with only your right hand onto the club.  From 5-6 feet, hold the putter in your right hand.  As you stroke the putts maintain the angle established in the back of your right wrist.  By maintaining this angle, this allows the putter head to gradually accelerate through impact.  If the right wrist straightens, the putter over-accelerates and the golfer can not control distance.   Try 20 putts and keep track of how many putts were made and continue your daily accounting.

Pivot drill- is a drill that will assist golfers with correct hip rotation during the backswing.  Bio-mechanical test have proven during the backswing that the weight doesn’t shift to the backside but the body rotates freely as you create tension between the upper and lower body.  A drill that will assist with this sensation is the pivot drill:  position a club along side your right hip and allow the hips to turn freely on the back swing.  If the club moves or falls-the hips have slid on the back swing.  The hips should turn as you body weight is centered between your feet.  This drill is a backswing only drill.

Practice like a pro and incorporate the drills outlined above.  Keep in mind that practice makes permanent and “perfect practice makes perfectly permanent.”

How to make a swing change
How to Make a Swing Change

By: Tim Mahoney

Every week millions of golfer’s watch Jordan Speith, Lydia Ko and others compete in Professional events, and the amateurs use these individuals as standards for their own golf games.  What the golfing public doesn’t see is the other 60 or so golfer’s who are competing each week making pars and bogeys, the 70 other golfers’ who missed the cut and the amount of time these professionals spend perfecting their skills.  If you measure your own game against the top professionals, you have unrealistic expectations and will be forever frustrated with your game.

The first objective when making a swing change is to understand that cause and effect of your motion.  Is the over the top motion the effect of an open clubface or the cause.  Is the in-correct pivot a mis-concept or a flexibility issue?  Once you and/or your coach determines the cause than a game plan for success must be developed.

Swing change game plans typically include a perfect set-up, practice swing routine, playing strategies, how to stretch and how to make a change.  This game plan must be adjusted during the swing change in order to address the cause and effects of the swinging motion.

1.       Changing motor skills takes a minimum of 2-3 weeks of practice.
2.       Practicing while playing on the course results in higher scores.
3.       Ben Hogan would only hit 5-6 perfect shots per round.
4.       Don’t compare yourself to Jordan Spieth.

A golf swing is a constantly changing and evolving motion.  Flexibility, fitness level, practice commitment and playing time will adjust and change the shape of a golfer’s motion.  As a result, the golf swing must be adjusted and changed.  Understanding the cause and effect of your swing with realistic expectations will allow you swing and golf enjoyment during your golf careers.

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.




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.


Impact for Consistency

Impact for Consistency

By Tim Mahoney


As you watch golf on TV across all the different professional tours, you will see different grips, postures, swing shapes and ball flights. Regardless of the differences in all the unique swings, there is one constant in all good ball strikers – they look identical at impact. Perfect impact and your ball striking will improve.

Impact position consists of: a forward leaning shaft, hips open to the target line, shoulders square to the target line, left wrist flat and right wrist bent.  Establish the angles and plane during the backswing and maintain these angles at impact.  Anticipation of the strike or an in-correct mind-set will create impact misery and inconsistenctcy.  Simply rehearsing impact or an isometric exercise will assist you with your impact goals.  Start at address and move into impact

A drill that will assist you with the motion of impact and correct alignments is making small swings into an impact bag.  Allow the power sources to accumulate on the back swing and turn into impact.  As the club strikes the bag, note:  a forward leaned shaft, flat lead wrist, hips open and shoulders square. 

All golf swings are different: upright, flat, close faced or opened face.  But all great ball strikers are perfect at impact.  Work on impact and your scores will lower.


Ball-Flight Consistency

Ball-Flight Consistency

By Tim Mahoney

Consistency is the number one goal of all players from Jordan Spieth to Jack Nicklaus.  Distance, Direction and Trajectory make up the elements of the ball-flight.  Golfers need all three elements for consistent ball striking.  I believe that the sequence of learning is:  trajectory, distance and direction.  The three components are interrelated and we cannot have one with out the other.


Trajectory is controlled by:

1.       Club Selection- the club is designed to provide loft.  Allow the manufacturer to get the ball airborne.

2.       Angle of Approach- the correct angle of approach provides solid impact and the proper effective loft.

3.       Set-up- consistency starts here.  Grip, posture, ball-position, aim, mind-set and tension level are the fundamentals of the pre-swing.

4.       Swing plane- a vertical swing shape will produce high shots and a flat swing shape will produce lower shots.

5.       Swing speed- without swing speed the golfer has a difficult time producing loft.  Golfers with a limited swing speed will produce the same trajectory for all clubs.

Distance is controlled by:

1.       Club Selection- longer clubs longer shots.

2.       Length of motion- increased range of motion will assist in distance.

3.       Solidness of contact- hitting the ball in the center of the racket.  Path and plane are significant influences.  Vertical plane produces toe hits and a flat plane produces heel hits.

4.       Swing speed at impact.  Body rotation, arm speed and wrist movement are the biggest influences.  Overall swing speed is a goal not club head speed.

Direction is controlled by:

1.       Aim- parallel lines of the eyes, shoulders, forearms, hips, knees and heels.

2.       Clubface alignment at impact.  Clubface at right angle to your swing path at impact.

3.       Swing path at impact.  A swing path that is from the inside to along the target line to the inside.

Every golf lesson and group activity I participate in every golfer is in search of consistency.  Ball flight has three elements: trajectory, distance and direction.  You master all three in order to gain consistency.