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.

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.

Playing the Game
Playing the Game
By: Tim Mahoney

Playing the Game

The final goal in golf is the end product: the score. Hitting perfect shots does not equate to a low score. Good “bad” shots, a consistent short game, and controlled tee shots allow golfers to achieve the ultimate goal – a low score.  To this end, golfers must learn how to play the game – including understanding tee-shot placement, reading bad lies, and selecting a club. Practice the following theories and you will begin to understand how to “play the game”.

The Friendly Theory

Cobra Advisory Staff member Hank Johnson recommends that golfers follow the “friendly” theory when playing golf. Golfers should use friendly clubs, make friendly swings, and choose friendly targets.

1.       Friendly clubs are ones that golfers have practiced with and spent some time with on and off the course. Keep in mind that to get the ball up in the air, you must get the center of the club beneath the center of the ball at impact. Your fairway woods are designed to lift the ball, and are much easier to hit than your longer irons. Choose the friendliest club dictated by your lie and the shot you wish to execute.
2.       Friendly swings are swings that you have practiced and have the ability to finish in balance. A balanced finish indicates that your swing is non-hurried and flowing. All golfers should hold their follow through until the ball lands. The inability to hold your follow through indicates a hurried and non-friendly swing.
3.       Friendly targets are forgiving targets with generous landing areas. A pin tacked behind a bunker may not be a friendly target. Choose open areas which will not so severely penalize a bad shot.

**Conservative off the Tee – Aggressive around the Greens

Matches can not be won off the tee. Your mindset should be one of being conservative off the tee and aggressive around the greens. You must get your “first serve in”, position your tee-ball in the fairway with a conservative mindset. If you are having difficulty with drawing the ball with your driver, use your 3 wood. Cutting doglegs may not be the prudent move – instead, get your ball in the fairway. As you get closer to the hole, become more aggressive. Whenever you find yourself with a short game shot (pitching, chipping, bunker or putting), your mindset should always be to try to hole the shot. 

So, to play the game well, and lowering your scores, remember to incorporate the friendly theory, and the conservative to aggressive theory, into your game plan.

Good luck.

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!




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.


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.