Phil Mickelson, one of the most successful PGA Tour players of the late 20th and early 21st centuries, is also considered one of the most knowledgeable about golf equipment. For example, he was quoted in a 2009 “Golf” magazine article questioning a manufacturer’s representatives about the tooling used to construct his club shafts. Mickelson has long played clubs from one company -- Callaway -- and he’s used those clubs in a variety of interesting and successful ways throughout his career.
Mickelson began swinging golf clubs shortly after he started to walk. The player commonly called “Lefty” isn’t left-handed in all things. At the age of 18 months, however, he picked up a club and mirrored his right-handed father’s swing, resulting in his own left-handed golf stroke. After a successful amateur career, including a PGA Tour victory while still a collegian, Mickelson turned pro in 1992. Through April 2012 he had won 48 professional tournaments -- 40 on the PGA Tour, including four major championships.
In the Bag
The 2012 golf season marked the first time Mickelson used a driver with adjustable weights, which can be added or removed from the club head to alter its performance. Mickelson won the 2012 AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am using the driver, which has 9.5 degrees of loft. Mickelson also used a 15-degree 3-wood and a 19-degree hybrid. He also carried irons 4 through 9, wedges with 48, 52, 60 and 64 degrees of loft, and a putter.
Mickelson has long preferred a heel-shafted blade putter. He tried a belly putter briefly in 2011 but soon returned to a standard blade. At the 2012 National Pro-Am, Mickelson carried an Odyssey putter with a white pistol grip. The putter's standard loft had been reduced from 5 percent to 3 percent. The 6-foot-3 Mickelson -- who recently had used the extra-long belly putter -- won the Pro-Am with a slightly shorter-than-normal 34-inch putter.
Mickelson is well-known for experimenting with his club selection. The decisions regarding which clubs to use during a round are important, as players are limited to 14 clubs per round under the Rules of Golf. Players typically include one driver in their bags, but Mickelson carried two while winning the 2004 Masters. He later explained that he included a 46-inch driver for longer distance and draw shots and employed a 45-inch driver for cut shots. In another victory, at the 2008 Colonial, he carried five wedges rather than the standard three or four.
Mickelson was among the PGA Tour players who briefly used a controversial PING wedge in 2010. The wedge’s grooves didn’t comply with new tour rules, but the club was permitted on the tour pursuant to a previous legal settlement. Mickelson said he used the club solely to draw attention to the loophole, which was soon closed.