Swing Analysis: Phil Mickelson’s “New Plane”: Really?

By Wayne | Videos: Swing Analysis

I have stated in the past that Phil Mickelson hasn’t changed his swing in any significant way in at least 25 years, no matter what he says or who he works with. What is certain is that he always has something to say about his swing, and that he is one of the best when it comes to talking himself into believing that he is doing something different and better. After studying his “new” swing (he switched teachers again) I have come to the conclusion that if he is on a “new plane” I don’t really see it, so it must be more subtle than the video camera can discern. Another certainty is that Phil is one of the most talented players in history, because if you watch his technique you have to wonder just how he hits it as good as he does as often as he does. Everybody knows he has one of the best pitching and bunker games around, and his putting, when it gets hot, is phenomenal, but the fact that at times he can absolutely stripe it is amazing considering the complications he has rooted in his release. When you watch his shaft steepen in transition, then trail while the legs wait for the club to drop down, and his hands wheel the face around to square it through the ball, you have to stand up and applaud the sheer genius of it all. There is no way he should be as good as he is, or have had the career that he has had, with his technique. Ah, but there is the rub: golf does not care about how it looks, only about how it functions. Phil knows where the club is and how to get the sweet spot on the ball, and he has been doing the same thing since he was a kid. I listened to him in person at the Masters last year talking on the range to Butch about his swing, and it was obvious that Butch had no idea what he was talking about. Indeed, the rambling monologue was incomprehensible to anyone no matter how much they knew about the swing. But God bless him: if he thinks he has a new plane and he’s going to hit it pure from now on, who’s going to tell him he’s wrong?

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(6) comments

Chuck January 29, 2016

YES!!!! I can’t wait to watch this one.

Phil January 29, 2016

Your comment that “at times he can absolutely stripe it” reminded me of the one golf shot I saw him hit in person. It was at the ’11 US Open at Congressional. I was standing right behind him on the 8th tee and had a perfect view of his 3-wood tee shot. I guess I was expecting some kind of wild or curving shot, but instead he hit it on an absolute frozen rope. I’ve never seen anyone hit a golf ball so dead straight.

John January 30, 2016

Hey Wayne, all you need to do to get a job with one of these superstars, is to forget the mechanics, mouth-off about stuff that sounds good and tell them what wonderful players they are. Call ’em ‘young man’ a lot. Works for Butch.
Also proves how hard it is to change something that worked for decades.

David W February 2, 2016

Tom, thank you for sharing these memories. Really cool to hear from someone that was there when it was happening. I wonder did Butch start to use film later and now? Does the amount of film that the top PGA players teachers use vary in large amounts and how are they at explaining it while looking at it the first time and providing annalysis? I admire the talent to do this at high levels. David

David W February 3, 2016

Thank you Tom, this is very informative and interesting. Sorry Dick passed at that young age as he was ahead of his time. I really find it hard to understand why teaching professionals don’t incorporate video into their lesson plans. Wayne has proven to me how valuable video is in teaching the golf swing and coaching the changes needed. How can anyone really do it right without the tape. Also, to be able to know what your looking at and talk and communicate it all effectively is rare.
I always love to watch Elk swing. So good. Hope Wayne doesn’t overlay him on any of my video. :)
Also, looked up Tiger on Google wearing the Lochinvar red shirt, didn’t know that fact about his last US Ameteur. When he was doing it I watched him and video taped his 2nd and 3rd US Ameteur occasionally replaying it and I still smile at what he did. Unbelievable golf. I wonder if I will ever see anything like it again? Do you think we will and how long will it take? Well. All for now.

David February 4, 2016

wayne – you said at 0:40 that he was w Randy Smith before Butch. Randy is at Royal Oaks in Dallas (his first breakout student was Justin Leonard,and has included a long list of touring pros like Gary Woodland, Ryan Palmer, etc.)

Was it Randy Smith or Rick Smith? Just curious, thanks.

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