When word surfaced of dynamic duo Phil Mickelson and Butch Harmon splitting after eight years together, we asked our experts — GOLF’s Top 100 Teachers — what they would do given the chance to coach Mickelson. (Yes, we know Andrew Getson got the gig, but still, we figured he could use some help.)
Responses flooded in, from quick fixes to radical swing overhauls to … well, “Go back to Butch,” one teacher advised.
Here, from the Top 100 Teachers in America, are 21 ways to fix Phil:
1. “Tighten up his leg and arms to the top.” – Tom Stickney, Bighorn GC, Palm Desert, Calif.
2. “Teach him how to get control of his golf ball with the long clubs and improve his short iron game.” – Chris O’Connell, Plane Truth Golf, Plano, Texas
3. “I would strengthen his right-hand grip, which may help the club face stay square or slightly closed, which would encourage a shallower downswing.” – Bill Harmon, Toscana CC, Indian Wells, Calif.
4. “I would tell him to go back to Butch. Butch is a great teacher and helped Phil realize his potential. How well Phil plays totally depends on how hard Phil works. He still has the game to win on Tour, his desire to be the best will drive him to play great again. Phil and Butch had the right game plan for the first 6 1/2 years; if he returns to that strategy you will see Mr. Mickelson standing on the podium with trophy in hand again.” – Mike Adams, Hamilton Farm GC, Gladstone, N.J.
5. “I would give him what he asks me to, not what I think he needs. His swing has always been long no matter what he did. It’s a beautiful flowing powerful movement that should not be touched. He has had a great career with that swing. He needs to work on his on course decisions, which have been ridiculously bad at times … He is a gambler, gamblers always go for broke.” – Craig Shankland, LPGA International, Daytona Beach, Fla.
6. “I would coach him on taking a more conservative strategy and play to his strengths — short game.” – Keith Lyford, Gold Academy at Old Greenwood, Truckee, Calif.
7. “I would tell Phil to try to stop shortening his swing, stop trying to keep his rear leg bent going back, and stop trying to keep the club from flattening on the downswing. All three would help him immediately.” – Brian Manzella, English Turn Golf & CC, New Orleans, La.
8. “I’d have him hit practice balls with his feet together and or feet wider with toes turned inward and hit flat footed. Both are designed to calm down his lower body, quiet his legs some, which will shallow out his swing arc.” – Steve Bosdosh, Four Streams, Beallsville, Md.
9. “Work on hitting more fairways — equipment and training and putting 6-12 feet.” – Henry Brunton, Henry Brunton Golf Academy, Maple, Ont.
10. “Quiet his lower body action and get him on plane.” – Anne Cain, PGA Tour Academy, St. Augustine, Fla.
11. “Approach shots 100-200 yards is first priority with 100-125 being the most important.” – Brad Brewer, Shingle Creek, Orlando, Fla.
12. “Work on the mental game.” – Chuck Evans, Tiffany Greens GC, Kanas City, Mo.
13. “Get him more stable.” – Mike Perpich, RiverPines GC, Johns Creek, Ga.
14. “Tighten up his lower body, so the club is on plane.” – Rick Grayson, Rivercat GC, Springfield, Mo.
15. “Under pressure and/or when he tries to hit the ball too hard Phil does not allow his back thigh to release to the target. As a result the hands/arms hit over his back leg through impact — fore right — thus he holds his release and it’s fore left. This two-way miss under pressure causes fore-get-it. Thus I’d work on his releasing his back thigh so he hits ‘with’ vs. over his back leg.” – TJ Tomasi, Keiser University, Port St. Lucie, Fla.
16. “I’d work on path and width going back for the long game, and massive amounts of putting.” – Jason Carbone, Baltusrol GC, Springfield, NJ
17. “Get him shorter going back and wider and more on plane in transition as he starts down.” – Sean Hogan, Leadbetter Golf Academy, Orlando, Fla.
18. “Get his right hand more on the club and get control of the takeaway so he can set the club sooner and in front of him the first half of the backswing. Once he controls the club and club face he can use his body for control of the release and be less handsy.” – Brian Mogg, Waldorf-Astoria GC, Orlando, Fla.
19. “Have Phil stay athletic and creative. I would also have him work on his speed control on short putts.” – Josh Zander, Presidio GC, San Francisco, Calif.
20. “I would have Phil stabilize his lower-body action. His legs need to support his body rotation. He should practice on air discs.” – David Glenz, Black Oak GC, Long Valley, NJ
21. “Phil has been a bit open with the face in my opinion, which leads to steepness in downswing. I would strengthen his right-hand grip and that would improve path of downswing to a more shallow angle.” – Bryan Gathright, Oak Hills CC, San Antonio, Texas
Bonus question: How will Mickelson fare next year?
When asked what to expect from Mickelson next year — he’ll have a new swing coach and will turn 46 in June — the majority of our teachers said that Lefty is ready to win his first title since the 2013 British Open.