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.

Sand Play





Sand Play

By Tim Mahoney


Sand play is often regarded as the easiest shot in golf, due to the fact, that the club never comes in contact with the ball during a greenside bunker shot.  As a result of over 30 years in the golf instruction business, I have found that the greenside bunker shot maybe the most difficult.  There are several myths when it comes to this shot:  first of all, “you must hit 2” behind the ball, actually with the skidding effect of the bounce the clubs enters the sand approx. 3-4 inches behind the ball.  Attempting to strike 2 inches behind may result in club ball contact.  Second myth, due to the clubface open at address one must aim to the left. The golf ball is positioned forward in the stance  (off of left heel) and no club ball contact the golf ball travels in the direction of the swing path not the clubface.  Keeping this in mind there is no need to aim left.  Third myth, you must swing more upright.  Ninety percent of all golfers slice the ball due to an upright swing; swing more upright simply produces a weak glancing hit that will travel a short distance to the right.  And the final myth, you must look and aim behind the ball.  All shots in golf you make every attempt to strike the ball first, now we are told to strike the sand first.  If you make 2 adjustments in your set-up: ball positioned off of the left heel and lower your body in the sand you will automatically strike the sand first.  Look at the ball and attempt to hit it.


Consistent sand play is the effect of:

1.       Adjust the clubface according to the lie.  Good lie open the face, bad lies close the face.  As you adjust the club you must use the entire club.  You never grip down on a greenside bunker shot.

2.       Position the golf ball off the left heel.  This position will allow the club to enter the sand behind the ball.

3.       Lower your body in the sand by digging in.  This adjustment will allow the club to get beneath the ball.

4.       Align and swing towards the target.  The golf ball travels along the swing path not the clubface alignment.

5.       Make 3 times the amount of swing.  The amount of sand ways 3 times the weight of the ball.  Keeping this in mind you must make enough swing.


Trust the club and your full swing for the green side bunker shot.  Keep in mind that consistency is the effect of perfecting one swing shape and make pre-swing adjustments for different shots.


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.


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.




By Tim Mahoney

Golf Ball curvature is the effect of a misaligned club face at impact.  Your club face is controlled by wrist cock, arm rotation and release.  All three of these aspects is directly controlled by the hold or individual grip of the club.  The quickest and simply the easiest means of improving your game is by perfecting your grip.  A perfect grip will improve an imperfect swing plane, an imperfect swing path and imperfect impact. 

Utilizing a gripping procedure will allow you to position your hands on the club consistently every time you swing the golf club. 

Step 1- allow your arms to hang freely by your sides as you position the club under the heel pad of your left hand with the club planed and the club face square.

Step 2-elevate the club and establish the width of the swing. With the club in front of you position your right hand on the club.  Connecting the hands by placing your life line on top of the thumb.

Grip check points include with the left hand include:  heel pad on top, thumb to the right of center and no gap between the thumb and the base of the hand.  Right hand check points include:  life line covers the thumbs, trigger finger to the side of the grip and no gap. The golfer has three options to connect the hands:  overlap grips allows for more wrist cock, an interlocking allows for more direction control and a baseball grip allows for a higher trajectory.

Perfect your grip and perfect your game.  The only contact you have with the club is your grip.  A perfect hold will perfect your ball flight.


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.