As a longtime Stuart resident, Mike Malizia likes to say he was born into the “beautiful game” of golf. His father was a club professional for 20 years, and Malizia naturally followed in his dad’s footsteps and picked up the sport at 8 years old. By 11, he started traveling and competing on various junior tours across the country, and at 20, he turned pro.
“My passion and love for the game was always about the search for a way to improve my golf swing,” notes Malizia. “[Playing] a sport that cannot be perfected made the journey to find answers fun and exciting.”
After 14 years on the green, Malizia reached a crossroads in his professional life in 2004. A friend suggested he give coaching a try; his family and other top instructors echoed that sentiment. “They all felt my enthusiasm and thirst for knowledge with the game would guide me in reaching the highest level of coaching,” Malizia says.
He shifted gears and began teaching others what he had learned about the game he loved. He was an instructor at Harbour Ridge in Palm City for 15 years before opening up his namesake Mike Malizia Golf Academy, which he now runs out of Banyan Creek Golf Club in Palm City. Currently, he is also a lead coach on NBC’s Golf Channel (one of 86 coaches chosen across the United States), where he makes appearances on Morning Drive as well as on the Golf Channel Academy’s website throughout the year, discussing topics from fairways and woods to short game and course management. Here, Malizia shares three tips to improve your putting setup.
Hip Sockets Over Heels
“This position allows you to have room to swing your arms underneath your body. A simple checkpoint is to make sure your weight is on the balls of your feet at address; this will ensure that your hip sockets are over your heels.”
Hands Under Shoulder Sockets
“If you position your hands too far outside of your shoulders, your putter swings too far inside toward your body. Conversely, if you have your hands too far inside your shoulders, your stroke will be outside away from your body. A proper way to check that your hands are directly under your shoulder sockets is to take your address position and, when set, take your right hand off the club. If your right arm and hand are in line with the putter shaft, you’re in a perfect position.”
Alignment of the Eyes
“Golf is a target game, and just like shooting a gun, it is important to understand that the eyes have to be aligned with the object and the target to achieve complete accuracy. Put your eyes too far inside the ball line and the hole will appear too far to the right (and vice versa). Here’s a simple way to test your eye alignment: Take your address with a ball in your right hand, then hold the ball up to your right eye and release it. Where it hits the ground is where your eyes are focused.”