After a long and successful relationship, 42-time PGA Tour winner Phil Mickelson and legendary swing instructor Butch Harmon have decided to part ways. Together since 2007, the two had a fair amount of reputable successes, including two major championships and over ten PGA Tour wins.
The two split on Wednesday.
Phil released the following statement:
“I’ve learned a great deal from him in our eight years together. It’s just that at the moment I need to hear new ideas from a different perspective.”
The break-up comes after one of Mickelson’s worst seasons since turning pro in 1992.
— Golf Channel (@GolfChannel) November 4, 2015
Now before we stray into the land of crazy talk, where “…PHIL IS SICK OF BUTCH’S S***!” and “TIGER AND BUTCH, PHIL CLEARED THE WAY” sound reasonable, let’s take a look at the reason for the break-up.
"🎵Hello….. It's me🎵" pic.twitter.com/I86gWn9iat
— No Laying Up (@NoLayingUp) November 4, 2015
Moving on….ignore the crazy mobs and focus.
Phil Mickelson is a 45-year old former world #2 who hasn’t won since his 2013 back-to-back at the Scottish and British Opens. His win at Muirfield was a moment he and Butch both call highlights of their career, and it’s hard to argue. It was magic.
Since then though, Phil’s game has been crickets.
The break-up seems to be, and probably is, completely amiable. But the change is absolutely justifiable. It’s not the messenger, sometimes its the message. Phil needed a fresh voice, with fresh insights to help him as he transitions into the twilight of his career.
I mean, let’s be honest, he’s only got 4-5 season on Tour of competitive play, if he’s lucky. That is, without including Augusta. He’ll contend there until he’s 70.
As for Butch Harmon, he’s is one of the busiest instructors in golf. Aside from strictly managing a “School of Golf” which pumps in hundreds of golfers a month to learn from his group of teachers, he’s traveling the Tours working with the world’s best. Dustin, Rickie, Jimmy Walker, Nick Watney, Gary Woodland and of course, Natalie Gulbis all need their time.
And that doesn’t count the promotional stuff Butch does, working with partners and companies worldwide. Butch is busy, this won’t affect him much.
So, Where Does Phil Go From Here?
With the amount of knowledge Phil has acquired over the years, it’s not unfair to think he may go it alone for a bit. He’s been influenced by the games brightest minds, he could probably work his way to a game that could compete.
But I think Phil has a plan. He’s got to work with someone.
With his long, languid swing, timing is key for Phil. With Butch, the two were able to hone in on areas where Phil could tighten his swing up the best while keeping it’s individuality. Without that, Phil’s creativity within the ropes would have taken a severe hit.
So we’ve got the framework there.
Now I firmly believe Phil is going to go with someone young and someone who challenges him with the new way of thinking about the golf swing. The amount of instruction– high, quality instruction– that can be found in the minds of the youthful instructors is incredible. With the technology age in full swing, people are able to gain an expertise faster than ever before in history.
The golf industry is not exempt.
See the way Phil played when he was around the young and boisterous Keegan Bradley? Why do you think he loves the team play so much in the fall each year?
He loves feeling young, like the crazy gunslinger riding his horse with barely enough ammo to survive. Phil loves that rush. I think he needs to go with someone who has the energy to implant that into his game again.
We may be surprised who Phil goes with next. But I bet the person is young, talented, smart and possesses energy.
It will invigorate Phil.
But until then, Phil and Butch, will always love each other…