Phil Mickelson and Jim “Bones” Mackay announced June 20 the end of their player-caddie relationship, a breakup after 25 years together, including 41 PGA Tour wins and five majors. Both parties, in separate statements, said it was just time for things to end and that the decision was mutual. We’ll probably never know the real reasons for the split, and if they accumulated over time, and how it all came to a head. However, what we can look forward to is the future for Mickelson and a new caddie, and what Bones might do next in either working with another player or potentially going into TV.
Phil Mickelson’s new caddie for the rest of the season is actually his brother, Tim Mickelson, who was formerly the head golf coach at their alma mater Arizona State University. Tim Mickelson filled in for Bones at the WGC-Mexico Championship this year when Mackay was under the weather with potential food poisoning. Tim is also the agent for top-15 player Jon Rahm, trading in his coaching duties for managing Rahm’s budding career. After that, it’s unclear who Mickelson will hire as his next caddie.
As for Bones Mackay, he was the subject of immediate speculation he might take over on Rahm’s bag, a rumor Rahm shot down quickly in a Twitter video. It would be an odd way of bequeathing Bones from Mickelson to Rahm given that the statements weren’t totally orchestrated and the timing seemed odd. Of course, Bones, who has been on the job for nearly 30 years, just had double knee-replacement surgery in the off-season, meaning he may want to hang up the caddie bib. However, he could also be interested in taking on a new bag. Bones could be a huge help to a young player who could develop in a champion as great as Mickelson.
Bones could be a fit for Jordan Spieth, whose caddie Michael Greller is outstanding but is said to be interested in spending more time at home with a young family. Bones would be amazing with Rickie Fowler, who seems very happy with Joe Skovron as his looper. Bones could be a potential revelation for Rory McIlroy, who has stuck by long-time caddie J.P. Fitzgerald, even when the duo don’t make the best decisions together. In all of those situations, Bones would be replacing someone in an established duo. That might be a bad look.
Mackay could also be a huge help to former world No. 1 amateur Maverick McNealy, who has waffled repeatedly on even turning pro in the first place after an incredible collegiate career at Stanford. Both could take a chance on each other with a feeling-out period — for McNealy, both with Bones and professional golf — and see what comes of it.
Of course, Mackay could head into the TV booth. In 2015, he and fellow veteran caddie John Wood joined Golf Channel’s coverage of The RSM Classic. Bones was fantastic in the job, lending unique insight that only a caddie could really offer. If he’s interested in roving fairways with a much lighter load, Bones could transition into TV quickly.