During the offseason I had to address some things to drive the ball better—poor footwork, swing inefficiencies, relying too much on my hands to square the face at impact. I went to work with my instructor Andrew Getson to shore things up. I fixed my swing plane, my footwork is better, and I'm using a new driver properly weighted for those changes. It's taken some getting used to, but the results are encouraging. I feel great with the driver and look forward to seeing what I can do with it at the Masters and the other big tournaments coming up. Here, Andrew is going to go over some of the changes I've made and explain how they can help you get the most out of the longest club in your bag. —With Ron Kaspriske
SETUP AND TAKEAWAY
One of the first things to note about Phil's offseason work is that his address posture has really improved. His back is straighter and his chin isn't tucked as much (photo No. 1, above). This creates more space to swing the club. You can't make a good swing if you don't have good posture. When he starts the club back, another thing I really like is that his swing arc is wider (No. 2). The club is moving back straighter, less to the inside. He's got a long backswing, but it's a hair shorter than it used to be. The thing he's really been working on with his backswing is his footwork. His back leg is much more anchored than it has been in the past (No. 3), so he can swing from a more stable platform. You might also notice his head stays fairly still. It's not drifting away from the target. That's key to getting the club back to the ball for a solid strike. If you anchor your back leg and make a swing without swaying, you're going to hit it in the sweet spot a lot more often.
TRANSITION AND DOWNSWING
With Phil's old swing, his driving accuracy suffered because he relied on his hands too much to square the club at impact. We went to work on improving his swing plane so he wouldn't have to rely on timing as much. Now he's a little more vertical as he approaches the top of his swing (photo No. 1, above). If you looked at the same position a year ago, the club's shaft would be a lot less upright. The lesson is, a slightly steep backswing can give you a feeling of having more room to properly swing the club down from inside the target line. You can see him taking advantage of that as he swings down. Notice how the shaft gets flatter. When Phil looks at photos like this, he likes to see it dropping below the logo on his left arm (No. 2). Also, look at where his hands are late in the downswing. If they're here (No. 3), we know he's got the club slotted and his arms have caught up with his body rotation. He's going to rip it. I tell my students not to worry about making contact with the ball. Instead, let the ball get in the way of a good swing. Just like this one.
LEAVE SOME GAS IN THE TANK
Phil knows how to hit it hard, but if you're trying to get more distance, remember to swing only as fast as you can without losing your balance. You'll be surprised how far the ball goes with what feels like 80-percent effort. —Andrew Getson
Andrew Getson began coaching Phil Mickelson in late 2015. The Australia native teaches at Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale.