A short game like Phil Mickelson please
Yes, that’s right. I’d like a short game like Phil Mickelson.
Is it possible to get anywhere near the skill of old Lefty? Probably not, but still… I do need to improve my short game if I’m going to nail this challenge.
I got in touch with Rich Pace over at One Stop Golf in Hull to go and see him and get some short game tips. I’ve known Rich a while now as we did some work with One Stop when they launched.
Firstly, I must spend a minute raving about the facility there. It’s FANTASTIC. It’s essentially a huge driving range, shop, and fitting centre. However, what makes this place far more than a driving range is the short game area. It’s just brilliant. So brilliant I’m pretty sure Phil Mickelson would also like to do his practice here! They have a great putting green, a raised green for chipping practice and a bunker. It’s also artificial which means the surface is always excellent and isn’t affected by the weather. All in all…a facility big Phil and his PGA Tour buddies would be proud to use!
Ok…that’s the gushing over with!
Once I got there, Rich and I discussed my chipping and what issues I have had with it. In a nutshell, I suffer from hugely inconsistent chipping. Poor distance control and a regular and highly annoying shank! It took Rich about 3 seconds of watching me chip to realise a) where the shanks were coming from and that b) I’m a long way from the skills of Phil Mickelson!
A lot of the issues appear to be of a similar nature to my normal swing of old. Using my hands far too much, too close to the ball and swinging around my body. As I demonstrated my non Phil Mickelson chipping skills for Rich, my shank didn’t let me down. It came out to play, and demonstrated how good a shanker of the ball I can be. Consistent too!!
We spent some time working on having a narrower stance, and trying to take my hands out of the equation. I think lots of us do this; we do the ‘trying to flick’ the ball up rather than letting the loft of the club do the work.
We also worked on my club path and takeaway. I was taking the club away with my hands and immediately taking it around my body. Consequently, in this position coming to impact I had no hip turn meaning I was coming into the ball with the horrible hosel. This was not the kind of shot Phil Mickelson would be proud of.
To try and fix this, Rich had me work on having a shaft lay behind the ball along my target line, then focus on turning my hips, moving my head left and up to help with the weight transfer and exit the club left. I couldn’t do this before, as my closed hips didn’t allow the room. We also really worked on keeping my hands quiet.
It took a long time, but eventually… I got it!!! I could chip. Started to hit some really nice ones too. I mean, I’m no Phil Mickelson just yet, but the shanks were gone. Good riddance too!
We then did a little work on putting. My putting hasn’t been too bad of late, but it could be a whole lot better. Like the rest of my game, if I was that good I’d be out there with Tiger, Luke Donald and my old buddy Phil Mickelson so I’m happy for any tips and advice that will make it a little better.
I think Rich was secretly a little impressed with my putting skills. Or maybe I’d worn him out with the 40 minutes it took to stop hitting a shank! Either way, he didn’t tweak too much. A couple of really GREAT green reading tips first, then we just tweaked my grip a little.
We moved my hand around a little more into the palm of my right hand with the fleshy part of my thumb on the top of the club. Then altered my stance a little so that with this new grip, the club became an extension of my arms. It worked pretty well too.
So, some great tips and lots more to work on to get my short game like one of the best in the business.
Interestingly, who would you put top of the short game rankings on the PGA Tour? Gotta be Phil Mickelson, or Tiger perhaps? Not according to the stats. Surprised me too! Have a look here…see who’s number 1.
So… Did I leave with a short game like Phil Mickelson? Well, its better than it was… lets just leave it there!