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      Travis’ Takeaway: Lefty’s hospitality lob

    • Phil Mickelson ranks 24th on the PGA TOUR this season in scrambling at 61.73 percent. (Chris Condon/PGA TOUR)Phil Mickelson ranks 24th on the PGA TOUR this season in scrambling at 61.73 percent. (Chris Condon/PGA TOUR)

    Leave it to Phil Mickelson to steal the show even when he’s not in contention. During the second and third rounds of last week’s Barclays, Mickelson hit near identical drives off the cart path and onto the hospitality structure to the left of the par-4 fifth green at Ridgewood Country Club. Rather than take a free drop, "Phil the Thrill" opted to hit both shots off the hard, carpeted surface, the second time nearly getting the ball up and down for a birdie.

    Now, the likelihood of you ever playing a shot from a hospitality tent is slim to none, but there may be times when you have to hit a delicate little pitch off a hard, bare surface—such as hardpan or a waste bunker area. Thus, there’s something to be learned from Mickelson’s adventures in New Jersey.

    Had there been grass underneath his ball, you probably would’ve seen the high-speed version of the Mickelson Flop, in which Phil takes a big, healthy cut at the ball, allowing the clubhead to release early and pass his lead wrist just prior to impact. But because of the tight lie, he was forced to make a much more compact swing, hitting down on the ball with a slightly forward leaning shaft. By condensing his arm swing, he was able to hold off the release a little longer and keep the clubhead moving farther past the ball, imparting more green-grabbing spin. Consider that on his second attempt he was able to pull the string and suck the ball back several feet, leaving him with a downhill putt at birdie.

    Most amateurs, when facing a similar pitch off a tight lie, play the ball well back in their stance (much like a chip) and try to trap it. More often than not, the ball comes out too low with not enough spin. Phil plays the ball middle to slightly forward in his stance, with a wide-open clubface, but here’s the key—he gets his sternum over the ball by sliding his right hip forward just enough so that it’s over his right ankle. He still has a little side bend to his spine (to the left), but he leans his weight into his front leg, which helps restrict his arm swing and make it easier to contact the ball with a slightly forward leaning shaft. 

    Try it Phil’s way the next time you face a delicate pitch off a tight lie. The likelihood of you compressing the ball and spinning it is much better if you keep your arm swing tight--about three-quarters back and through—rather than trying to trap it or flip the clubhead underneath the ball with a long, loose swing.

    Travis Fulton is Director of Instruction for all TOURAcademy locations nationwide. To learn more about Travis--voted one of “America’s Best Young Teachers” by Golf Digest--and to book a lesson, click here.

    Phil Mickelson thrills fans with shot from hospitality area at Barclays
    • Highlights

      Phil Mickelson thrills fans with shot from hospitality area at Barclays

    Phil Mickelson "Oh no not again!"
    • Highlights

      Phil Mickelson "Oh no not again!"

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