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.

Drills for successful practice sessions
Drills for successful practice sessions
By Tim Mahoney

After observing the practice sessions at the 2014 Masters tournament I noticed significant change in the manner of practice from the elite tour players: golfers utilizing drills into their practice routine.  Tiger Woods, Rory McElroy to Lee Westwood, all golfers utilizing a movement or practice swing to isolate a muscle movement or change.  The old age of “practice makes perfect,” had been amended to “perfect practice makes perfectly permanent.”  All level of golfers needs to develop a movement or thought that will allow them to incorporate the needed change.  At the Mahoney and Troon Golf Academy we have developed several drills that will assist all golfers with the quest of perfecting the movement.

Right Arm Drill- the right arm controls the shaft into the downswing and through the impact area.  The club must fall as the body turns.  A great drill that we have created is the right arm throw exercise.  Hold a golf ball into your right hand and simulate a backswing with your right hand and arm.  To simulate the down swing:  hold your trunk in place and attempt to throw the ball and strike the ball on the ground.  This drill will produce the desired straightening of the right arm and the correct angle of approach.  A ball released on the target side of the ball the arm plane to steep and a ball released prior to the ball on the ground is to shallow.  Hit the ball on the ground and your plane and release are correct.

Right hand in arm only for putting drill- controlling distance is the secret to successful putting.  A drill that will assist all golfers with this goal is putting with only your right hand onto the club.  From 5-6 feet, hold the putter in your right hand.  As you stroke the putts maintain the angle established in the back of your right wrist.  By maintaining this angle, this allows the putter head to gradually accelerate through impact.  If the right wrist straightens, the putter over-accelerates and the golfer can not control distance.   Try 20 putts and keep track of how many putts were made and continue your daily accounting.

Pivot drill- is a drill that will assist golfers with correct hip rotation during the backswing.  Bio-mechanical test have proven during the backswing that the weight doesn’t shift to the backside but the body rotates freely as you create tension between the upper and lower body.  A drill that will assist with this sensation is the pivot drill:  position a club along side your right hip and allow the hips to turn freely on the back swing.  If the club moves or falls-the hips have slid on the back swing.  The hips should turn as you body weight is centered between your feet.  This drill is a backswing only drill.

Practice like a pro and incorporate the drills outlined above.  Keep in mind that practice makes permanent and “perfect practice makes perfectly permanent.”

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.

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.




Speed and Strength through Structure

Speed and Strength through Structure

By Tim Mahoney

All golfers from Rory Milroy to Lydia Ko are in constant attempts to generate more speed and strength throughout their golfing motion.  Golfers we see throughout our golf schools are attempting more speed and strength as well.  The only way to generate more speed and gain speed is to have stability and structure throughout the entire motion of the golf swing.  The old adage, “would you rather shoot a cannon from a canoe or a stable surface.”  More speed and strength through a stable surface.  Golfers must develop stability first before attempting speed and strength

Structure starts at address with a balanced posture and set-up.  Bending from your hips with a neural spine.  Weight on the balls of your feet.  Arms hanging directly from your shoulders with your feet shoulder width apart.  Body must be in a position where the muscles are holding and supporting the movement.  Feet hold the ground as your hands hold the club.  Bending from your hips with a small amount of knee bend.  Body must be tall and balanced.  This position will provide structure throughout your golf swing.

As the arms swing, body turns and wristcock golfers must maintain the structure established at address.  The feet continue to hold the ground.  Maintain the bend in your hips and the neutral spine.  Body turns freely as you maintain the structure stability and positions.  Maintain angles and positions. 

As the arms swing, body unturns and wrist uncock to impact the structure and stability established at address, top must be maintained.  Body turns around a fixed point.  The fixed point established at address and maintained throughout the motion. Dynamic motion through a static structure position. 

As the body unwinds, arms release, wrist uncock and the club released, structure is maintained throughout the entire motion.  Bend maintained, angles and lines kept through structure.  Speed and strength the effect of stability and structure.  Maintain structure for a strong and fast golf swing.


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.


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.


Utilize Ground Forces for increased clubhead Speed


Utilize Ground Forces for increased clubhead Speed

During my 20 years working with Bob Toski in the Golf Digest Schools, Bob would state daily during our sessions, “ The hands grip the club and the feet grip the ground.”  As Player Development activity has improved with the utilization of Trackman, K Vest, Gears and 2-D video one area of development is lagging: understanding the force of the ground.  As I instruct throughout the world, one simple ingredient is being utilized in increased club head speed for all golfers: using the ground throughout the dynamic motion of the swing. Golf shoe technology has greatly improved and the feet, ankles and toes have room to launch and grip the ground.  Golfers slight in weight and leverage have found ways to increase speed simply by using the ground in the swing.  A simple thought, “ are we more powerful with a cannon from a canoe or from a firm surface?” 

Ground forces start at address with a firm ground and posture.  Arms hanging freely, weight on the middle of the ankles, bending from hips and spine at a neutral position.  Stability at address allows the body to load and unload throughout the swing.  Feet and ankles must have the mobility to load and unload.

As you wind up into the backswing, allow the upper body to wind against the lower body and ground.  Spine is tilt away from the target as the body is turned against the feet and ground.  The gluts are lowered and activated as you wind against the ground.  There should be a slight lowering of the head during the backswing as you wind up.

Explode during the downswing into impact.  All muscles must fire as the trailing leg is extended and lengthens.  This movement of thrusting upward creates a swing path and angle of approach upward through impact.  Lead glut is turning behind as the trailing leg is straightening.  Pushing off of the balls of the feet as the heels rise off the ground through impact.  Low to high concept as the golfer explodes through impact.  Using th3 ground on the backswing and downswing.  Ground forces throughout the golf swing.

The most misunderstood concept in golf is the use and utilization of ground forces.  Low to high as the golfers loads and explodes.  Use the ground as the legendary golf instructor Bob Toski mentions, “ hands grip the club as the feet grip the ground.”





Ben Hogan’s Plane of Glass

Ben Hogan’s Plane of Glass

By Tim Mahoney


The legendary golfer and technician Ben Hogan in 1946 developed the swing concept of an angle the club needs to swing:  Swing plane or simply the shape of the swing.  Throughout the years a debate has developed regarding the angle or plane of the swing:  1 or a 2 plane motion.  Within the Mahoney and Troon Golf Academy we believe that it is not a 1 or a 2 plane motion, simply an on-plane swing that is determined by the club and your posture.  The angle or plane that you swing the club on determines the centerness of the strike, the ability to square your club face at impact and the amount of divot.  Swing plane is not a ball flight law, but simply, a golf swing preference.


The backswing plane can be viewed as an inclined angle taken at address running up the shoulders from the ball.  The left arm controls the shape of the backswing, the shoulders, arms, hands and club should rotate and swing on this angle and not deviate from the intended angle.  Swinging on this determined angle will allow the upper and lower body the ability to turn freely on both sides of the swing.  Once golfers understand how to swing to the top of the backswing they will solve consistency problems.


During the downswing motion, the golf club MUST swing under and below the back swing plane.  The shallowing of the club on the downswing is a significant power boost at impact.  The slight lateral shift of the hips towards the target as the upper body is turning back, allows for a “flattening” of the downswing plane.  As the hips are sliding laterally, the right elbow connects to the side as the left hips turns behind.  Hands or shoulders starting the downswing establishes an over the top or steep angle.  Steepness in the downswing causes toe hits, open club face and a decrease in club head speed.  Create a flatter downswing as compared to the backswing results in greater power and consistency.


Drills that will assist in creating this angle:  baseball swings above the ball and chip shots where the club stays below your hands on both sides.  These drills will allow you to focus primarily on the shape of the swing and the intended plane.


Club face, angle of attack, centeredness of hit, club head speed and swing path are the ball flight laws that effect every shot from a putt to a chip, to a full drive.  Ben Hogan’s plane of glass or swing plane is every gofer preference to golf excellence.  Swinging the club on the intended angle, determined by the club and your posture will provide longer, straighter and more solid strikes.