Last week Phil Mickelson announced that he was splitting from long-time swing coach Butch Harmon. In eight years with Harmon, Lefty enjoyed a successful run of golf into his early 40’s. Mickelson won 11 times, including the 2010 Masters and the 2013 British Open. But the latter remains his last victory major or otherwise.
And now, at 45, Mickelson is looking to spark a late charge in his career.
“I’ve learned a great deal from (Harmon) in our eight years together,” Mickelson told Golf.com. “It’s just that at the moment I need to hear new ideas from a different perspective.”
Just one day after the Harmon breakup, Mickelson tabbed Andrew Getson as a replacement.
Getson enjoyed a pleasant if not overly-impressive 10-year professional career across golf’s minor leagues before becoming a teacher full-time. Today, he works as an instructor at Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale, Arizona, a popular haunt among PGA pros.
In his tenure as a teacher, Getson earned a reputation as a player’s coach if one ever existed in golf. He works more on the golfer’s approach to each shot rather than focus on technical aspect of the swing.
The partnership should work well for the somewhat egotistical Mickelson.
His famous Tuesday rounds, little more than rumors a decade ago, are now well-known in the media and beyond. Mickelson’s call-out of Ryder Cup Captain Tom Watson following the 2014 debacle at Gleneagles also points to a player whose veteran status has made him a more outspoken and desperate figure.
Getson, by all accounts, is easy going and gets along with most everybody. Not that Harmon is thought of any differently, but perhaps the “new ideas from a different perspective” refers to Mickelson’s poorer results over the last two seasons. Lefty turns 46 next June and at times his age has shown in his play since his Open Championship win. He’s struggled to put together four rounds with any consistency.
At four years Mickelson’s junior, Getson will be more welcome to a secondary role than the 72-year-old Harmon would be. Lefty can play with his usual abandon and turn to Getson for guidance rather than tinker with a style that made him a World Golf Hall of Fame member.
There’s no secret what Mickelson’s motivation is here, either. It’s not just that Harmon and he ran out of steam. Or that Getson is the secret to reaching the top of the leaderboard. Mickelson is running out of time in both directions.
Like Tiger, Lefty is on the downside of a wonderful career. He has five full seasons left before he can turn his attention to the Champions Tour. However, the rise of the youngsters may push him into retirement before anyone realizes it. To reiterate: Spieth, McIlroy, Fowler, Day, Koepka, Thomas, Reed, etc., etc. Golf has never had more young talent.
Mickelson doesn’t need another 11 victories. He needs one, the US Open. After so many years of being close—and really it’s much harder to finish second six times than it is to win once—Mickelson makes one last shift. If Getson gets him that elusive trophy his legacy could usurp Harmon’s as it pertains to Lefty.
After all, rumor has it Getson’s tip with Mickelson to improve his posture before the Presidents Cup fueled his best play of the season.