What goes into Phil Mickelson's testing process? As you would expect with one of the most particular players on TOUR, there's more to choosing a new club than simply grabbing one off the rack and hitting a few ball to see if it feels good.
During a recent Callaway Golf podcast, Mickelson discussed his fitting process, why he relies on blind testing and how he determines if a new club is worth adding to the bag. Click here to listen to the interview in its entirety.
Why blind testing is the best way to test new equipment
"The best way to do it is to blind test. It's a process where you wear goggles over your eyes, where at impact they go dark. Or you have someone put a sign or a board in front of your eyes where you can't see where the ball goes. The reason this is important is because once you see a ball hook, you instinctively make a change to your swing or adjustments."
What happens when one club in particular starts hooking or slicing during testing
"If it's an iron, I adjust the lie. If that works, great, that's usually a simple fix. But if I start getting a sporadic displacement or dispersions of shots — one that hooks or fades when I hit a good shot — then we go to the shaft and just re-shaft it and start new. Because sometimes you'll just get a bad shaft that's just a different frequency or doesn't quite flex right."
How he determines if a club is worth adding to the bag
"I'll hit five to 10 shots that I deem good. So I'll say, 'That was a good one, let's count that.' Again, I haven't seen where the ball went; I just know it feels like a good swing. So I could probably do the entire set within an hour and a half or so. And then I'll do that for a couple of days. You just want to make sure your swing is right.
"And here's the other thing, I'll do it when I'm playing well. I'm not going to do it when I'm playing bad. So I'm going to get my swing on film not when I'm playing bad, like everybody else, but when I'm playing good so I have a reference. If everybody who was playing great went down and got their swing on film when they were playing great, then they'd have a reference to compare so they could see when they were a little flatter or more upright."
His one-shot testing process
"When I get a new club and don't want to go through [the blind test] process, I hit one shot with it. I'll hit one shot with a hybrid, then I'll go hit a 7-iron; I'll hit another shot with [the hybrid] and then hit a 5-iron. I'll go back-and-forth and only hit one shot because I'm making an adjustment. So if I get that first shot to go well, I know that we're onto something. If it starts leaking one way consistently after two or three shots, I won't even waste my time. Something is wrong with it and it's not going to be the right fit."
Other technology he uses during the fitting process
"It's usually a secondary thing for me. I'm not using the launch monitors or TrackMan as my primary go-to source. I'm going to use my eyes and my feel first; then I'll use the launch monitor as validation for what I'm seeing."
His lead tape sensitivity
"A lot of golfers are shaft sensitive, and some are head sensitive. I am not very shaft sensitive. If we put four or five shafts that were reasonably close, I'm not going to be able to tell them apart. But if you put one strip of lead tape on the heel of the club, I'm going to notice it draw more.
"I'm sensitive enough to notice it, especially in the longer stuff, with even a strip of lead tape on the heel or the toe."
When he does testing at the Ely Callaway Performance Center
"I'll get out there a few times early in the season. I'm actually there the most in October, November, December, because I want to get my clubs fitted and right so when January comes around and I've taken a month off and haven't been playing that much, that I know that it's already ready. So after the Ryder Cup, or last year with the Presidents Cup, then the next two to six weeks I'll spend getting all of my equipment right for the new season."