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.

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.

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.

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.

Left wrist controls ball flight
Left wrist controls ball flight
By Tim Mahoney

All golfers from a PGA Tour Player, Jason Day, Jordon Speith and Rory McEllroy to a 18 handicap participants in a Troon Golf Academy are striving for control of the golf ball via distance, direction and trajectory. Control is the number 1 ingredient to lower scores and enjoyment.  I have been coaching a two clubface swing for over 30 years: golf club face and the golfers left wrist.  In order for the club face to be square at impact (looking at the desired target) the golfers left wrist needs to be flat (parallel to your lead arm).  This alignment will allow for maximum control of distance direction and trajectory throughout the entire flight.
Left wrist control starts at address with the proper grip.  Left hand heel pad on top, thumb to the right of center and no gap between the thumb and the base of the hand. As you place your right hand on the club: lifeline covers your thumb, trigger finger to the side and no gap between your thumb and the base of your hand. Both V’s in your grip pointing to your right shoulder and both wrist at address slightly bent and relaxed. 
As the club swings, arms swings and wrist cock up the top of the swing the left wrist flattens into a neutral position.  This flat position aligns the club face, positions the left arm into a planned position.  As the club swings into impact the left wrist must maintain the flat position.  This flat position controls trajectory, distance and direction. 
Impact position the left wrist is flat, hips open and shoulders are square.  Shaft is forward leaned and the club face is square.  Control is the effect of a left wrist flat position. 

270 yards with the Driver

270 Yards with the Driver


Golf has developed into a power game.  Longer holes, thicker roughs, elevated greens and tighter fairways have attributed to this change in concept.  In the golf swing there is only 3 power sources available:  wrist cock, arm swing and body turn.  Club head speed and power is the effect of the blending of these power and speed sources.  Golfers must use all 3 power sources when attempting to maximize distance and speed.


Allowing the wrist to cock and unclock freely during both sides of the golf swing will increase speed and distance.  As the club swings back allow the wrist to cock thus forming a right angle from the left arm and club.  Holding the club lightly will allow this action to take place.


The body needs to turn freely on both sides of the swing.  The backswing the shoulders turn 90 degrees as the hips turn 45 degrees.  On the forward side of the swing the lower body needs to initiate due to the coil established in the backswing.  The knees should touch with the right hip finishing closer to the target as the left.  A great drill to assist with the back swing pivot is to place a club on the shoulders at address and turn the shaft into the top of the swing.  Allow the upper body to turn against the resisting lower body. 


Complementing the wrist cock and body turn is the swinging motion of the arms as the right arm bends 90 degrees.  The arms must swing freely on both sides of the swing as the right arm bends.    The arm swing is the effect of the correct posture and relaxation at address and during the motion.


A drill to assist you with generating these power sources, is what I call the wind up exercise.  Place a club across your chest.  From the starting position, wind your upper body against the lower body.  Allow the shaft to rotate freely at right angle to your spine.  Hold for 5 seconds at the top and repeat.  As you do this exercise, maintain your posture and keep your abs engaged.


The completed power backswing has full wristcock, arm swing and body pivot.  Allowing your wrist to cock, arms to swing and body to turn will give you the opportunity to create Rory McIlroy’s power and speed.


Ninety degrees of wristcock, shoulder turn and right arm bend will generate 270 yards of distance.  Allow the arms to swing, wrist to cock and arms to swing and you will hit it like Rory!




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.




Ball position: The Debate Continues

Ball position: The Debate Continues

By Tim Mahoney


One of the interesting concepts about the golf swing is the position of the ball with-in your stance.  One school of thought mentions a ball position in the same spot and another mentions a ball position that moves with the club.  At the Mahoney and Troon Golf Academy we believe that the ball position is the effect of the desired swing angle at the ball and the golfers basic swing tendency.  Keep in mind our ultimate goal is to produce a solid strike every time a golfers hits a shot.  The ball position is constantly being adjusted during a practice session or a round of golf. 


The ball position is the effect of your desired impact goals, swing tendencies and the design of the club.  As the club length is varied and the club head design is implemented the basic ball position will be adjusted as well. Shorter irons with more loft the ball will be farther back in the stance and a wood club with less loft and the shaft behind the ball will have a more forward ball position.


The desired angle of approach of the club head at impact will effect the ball position as well.  A short game shot that requires a significant amount of back spin and a steeper angle of approach, the golf ball should be positioned back in your stance. A driving club with a golfer’s objective of distance with ground speed requires a shallow angle of approach or slightly upward, a forward ball position is needed. All golfers need to keep in mind that the position of the ball at set-up in relation to your feet and head will effect the angle the club approaches the ball.  Ball back-steep angle and a ball forward shallows the angle.


During a round of golf the goal is to get the ball into the hole in the lowest amount of attempts.  Your golf swing is constantly changing as your body and mind set changes as well.  If your swing path is too much in to out, your golf club will bottom out behind the ball.  This swing path will result in a ball position farther back in your stance.  A swing path that is out to in will produce a swing bottom forward of the ball and a more forward ball position.  Golfers need to adapt to the playing positions and your golf swing.


Lower scores are the effect of the golfer adapting to the swing and conditions.  Keep in mind that the golf ball relationship within your stance is constantly moving and being adjusted.  A cemented position will produce inconsistencies and an adjusted ball position will result in lower scores.