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.

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.

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.


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.