Phil Mickelson is not afraid to mess with the makeup of his bag, but he doesn't do it on a whim. Mickelson, a classic tinkerer, tests his theories and equipment to make sure it passes muster.
And, as you might imagine, Mickelson has a unique way of testing clubs.
In a podcast with Callaway Golf, Mickelson describes a testing routine in which he uses goggles which go dark when he is testing equipment. (He also suggested using a sign or board to cover your eyes as a substitute.) And it's for a good reason.
"Once you see a ball hook, you instinctively make a change to your swing," Mickelson said. "You kind of hold off the face a little bit more through impact and you start making adjustments. But you want all 14 clubs to be the same."
Once a year, Mickelson does this blind testing with Dave Pelz. He'll hit between five and 10 good shots with each club while Pelz charts. When they have the sample set, they look at the good swings and look for consistency. If they fly how Mickelson wants, great. If not, it could be a simple change like a lie angle adjustment. If that doesn't do it, it could be a shaft issue, so Mickelson will change the shaft and start over. Mickelson said he can get through the bag in about 90 minutes, and the process takes several days.
Ultimately, Mickelson wants the bag to function as a system, so it doesn't matter to him about individual club specs so long as there's flow from club to club.
"I care about that each individual club works with each other club in the bag," he said. "You want your misses to be the same all the way through the bag."
The left-hander emphasized that he does the testing when he's playing well.
It is perhaps a little ironic, then, that Mickelson doesn't rely on launch monitor data to guide his equipment decisions.
"My eyes and feel come first," he said. "The data is great, but there are variables such as altitude and temperature. I use the launch monitor more to verify what I see."
The whole podcast is fascinating for a gear head, or even just a standard-issue golf fan.