Tim Mahoney Golf Blog

Tim Mahoney Golf Blog


Tim Mahoney Golf Blog

How to Curve
How to curve the ball
By Tim Mahoney

During the late 1970’s I had the opportunity to participate in a Golf Digest School as a range attendant (caddie) at the Pinehurst Resort, where Sam Snead was a guest instructor.  Sam’s responsibilities where to play a few holes with every group and provide some insight of “how to play the game.”  On a particular hole Sam had driven his ball into the left rough approximately 170 yards from the middle of the green and behind a pine tree.  Sam could not take a direct line to the flag, due to the tree, but had space on both sides of the tree to play a curve.  Sam had me throw down a couple of balls and he demonstrated slices and hooks.  After several shots, where they all landed onto the green, Sam” asked the group if they had any questions,” a gentlemen responded, “How did you do it.”  Sam responded “didn’t you watch.”  All Sam did, was to mentally think slice or hook and his body responded. Allowing his subconscious mind to control his body.  Most golfers do not have the ability to subconsciously play an intended curve (most golfers play an uncontrolled curve).  If a golfer implements a few compatible in-swing and pre-swing adjustments they too can control the ball like Sam Snead.

Hook- golf balls that start to the right and curves to the left.
1.       Aim the clubface at your desired final target.  This position will strengthen your grip and close your clubface.
2.       Aim your body in the direction you want your golf ball to start.
3.       Position the golf ball back in your stance.
4.       Swing the golf club along your bodylines (similar to any full shot.)
5.       As you make your downswing motion allow your arms to fully release and close the clubface through the impact area.

The stronger grip, rearward ball position, in-out swing path and a fully released clubface will produce the right to left ball-flight.

Slice- golf ball that starts to the left and curves to the right.
1.       Aim your clubface at your desired final target.  This position will weaken your grip and open your clubface.
2.       Aim your body in the direction you want your golf ball to start.
3.       Position the golf ball forward in your stance.
4.       Swing the golf club align your body line (similar to a full shot.)
5.       As you make your downswing motion hold the clubface open with your trunk.  There should be no clubface rotation through impact.

The weaker grip, forward ball position, out-in swing path and an open clubface will produce the left to right ball flight.

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.




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.


Low Short Game Shots


Low short game shots

By Tim Mahoney


The average professional golfer on any of the world tours hits an average of 11-13 greens a round.  As a result, 5-7 opportunities are presented for an up-in or an actual chip in.  After 35 years of teaching golf around the world, mastering the chip shot is the fastest way to lower your handicap, provide more enjoyment and assist all levels of golfers an opportunity to exceed their personal objectives. 


At the Mahoney and Troon Golf Academy we have eliminated shots titles: chipping and pitching and have replaced the situation with a low shot or a high shot.  In all short game situations the player’s goal is to land the golf ball safely onto the putting surface and allow the golf ball to release to the hole. Successful short game results are the effect of a correct set-up, swing motion, and club choice.


Club choice is the effect of the lie of the ball, the amount of green you have to work with and the distance you are away from your desired landing area.  Worse the lies choose a higher lofted club.  More green you have to work with, take a lower lofted club to allow for more run out.  The further you are away from the landing area, choose a higher lofted club in-order to land the golf ball safely onto the green.  When in doubt, choose the higher lofted club and produce a lower ball flight.


Preparation in the short game is 90% of the success of the end result.  For a lower lofted shot, position the ball towards your back foot, lean your body weight towards the target with the shaft leaned forward.  Keep in mind that the golf club will bottom out directly below your nose, Position your head in front of the ball and the club will find its low spot in front of the ball.


During your swinging motion, minimize the amount of hand action and pivot on the back swing and allow your upper body to turn back with arm motion.  The club head should remain under your hands.  On the forward swing allow your resisted core hips to initiate the motion with limited hand and wrist motion.  The club head should remain under your hands.  Hold your finish until the ball comes to rest.


Eliminate the shot titles during your golf rounds and attempt to the control your short game shots with elevation.  Set-up, club choice and motion will give you controlled results and lower scores.




Controlling distance with your Wedges


Controlling distance with your Wedges

By Tim Mahoney


Golf is a unique activity where you have the combination of distance, direction and trajectory control of the golf ball.  In the short game the ability to score is directly related to controlling the distance of the golf ball.   Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler have the ability to control the distance of their wedges within 95% of the required goal.  For an example, on a 30 yard shot, Spieth has the control of his wedges to hit the ball 28.5 yards, a differential of 1.5 yards in total distance.

Distance is controlled by club choice, length of club at address, length of swing, elevation of the shot, solidness of the strike and the speed of motion.  All golfers should have a minimum of 3 wedges with the lofts of 48, 52 and 56 degrees of loft.  All wedges should have a differential of 4 degrees of separation.  As you work with the wedges identify the distance of ½, ¾ and full swing.

Length of club at address will have a direct impact on the speed of the motion throughout.  Golfers should attempt to grip down the shaft, ½ of a grip and a full grip.  Combine this with different length of swings as well.  A shortened club will work with a shortened swing and a long club will work with a long swing.  All wedge swings should be balanced or symmetrical on both sides of the motion.  A partial backswing should match a partial forward swing. The golf swing needs to be balanced in order to control speed and distance.

A mirrored impact position and address, of the will assist with controlling the loft of the club. The impact position should be identical to the starting position. Unlike the full swing where the shaft needs to be forward leaned for speed in pitching the shafts needs to match. 

Solidness of the strike is the effect of the angle or plane of the swing.  A vertical swing motion will produce a toe hit and conversely a horizontal or flat swing will produce a heel hit or a shank.  The club must be swung on the desired angle or right angle to your spine.

Distance control in the short game is the effect of the club, speed, length of swing and solidness of the hit.  Control these variables and you to will pitch like Spieth.


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.


4 Steps to Successful Putting


4 Steps to Successful Putting

By: Tim Mahoney


If you were to watch the good putters on any of the tours, they all have the same type of routine, a routine for success.  As you approach putting, your mind must be on your hands, assisting you with controlling distance.  Consistent players utilize fact not fiction.  Develop this routine, and you will become a great putter.

Step 1
- Walk into the golf ball with your right hand only on the club.  During this motion you have three goals:  establish an angle in the back of your right wrist (this angle must be maintained during the entire motion.)  Aim your clubface at your target.  Align your right forearm on the same plane as the shaft.


Step 2- Position your body (all shots in golf, you must align club than body.)  Position your eyes over the target line, weight even, golf ball forward in your stance with boxed feet.

Step 3
- Position your left hand onto the club.  As you slide your hand onto the club, position both thumbs on the flat part of the club with your palms facing each other.  Flatten your left wrist and maintain the bend in your right wrist.

Step 4
- Swing the putter with the arms.  Quiet torso motion as you maintain the hand position.  Hold the follow thru until the ball comes to a rest.  Your mind must be on controlling distance.  Perfect distance is the effect of maintaining the hand position.

All good putters develop a routine.  I believe great putters develop an angle in the back of their right wrist at address and they maintain this angle throughout the stroke.  As a result, pre-set this angle at address and maintain this angle during the entire motion.  Consistent performers utilize fact not fiction.