Golf School: Wedge-It Like Phil
All players on tour are skilled with a wedge in their hand but one stands out above the rest and will maintain this legendary status forever. Phil Mickelson.
Whether hitting your approach shot our trying to get up and down for par, your wedge-play is one of the most important shots in the bag. It can make you birdies and save you pars.
Let’s take a look at how Phil uses his 60 and 64 (!) degree Callaway Mack Daddy.
A FORWARD PUSH
“The first thing you should learn from Phil: He reads the lie before deciding on what type of shot to play,” says Andrew Getson, who teaches at Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale. “Also important, he says 99 percent of his body weight starts and stays on his front [right] foot. Most players don’t favor that leg as much.”
LEANING INTO IT
Ball position and shaft lean are two ways Phil controls contact, Getson says. “That shaft lean at address and the forward ball position allow him to hit down on the ball solidly and get it up without having to scoop at it with his wrists like I see so many amateurs do. They play the ball too far back to hit it high.”
HINGE AND HOLD
The simplicity of his technique is evident here, Getson says. “Once he hinges the wrists, he maintains that hinge through impact. This prevents poor contact.” Amateurs should start this hinge early, Getson says. “You don’t need a big swing arc here. Hinging narrows the arc and makes good contact easier to get.”
RUBS THE RIGHT WAY
Phil creates the backspin for this checking wedge by forcing a lot of friction between the ball and the leading edge of the clubhead. “His hands take the club down into the ball on a fairly sharp angle,” Getson says. His head also has rotated a little to the target side. “He tracks the path of the club and ball,” Getson says.
Stare at this swing at impact for a few seconds, then go back and see the photo of Phil at address. Look familiar? “With the exception of his head rotating, the two positions are virtually identical,” Getson says. “That’s something to work on. Create a good impact look at address, and repeat it when your club meets ball.”
EXTEND AND ROTATE
His grip pressure is super light, Getson says. “Soft hands let him keep clubhead speed up on those short shots.” Also, a lot of amateurs bring the shaft back around to their hip pocket to finish the swing, “but his left arm extends and his body keeps rotating toward the target for accuracy. It’s terrific technique.”