How Phil Mickelson Added Club Head Speed (and you can too)
At 48 years old, Phil Mickelson should be entering the twilight of his PGA Tour career. Younger players are starting to dominate the game with their explosive power and athleticism. Lefty refuses to give in though; he’s already won once in 2019 and came very close to securing two victories.
One of the big storylines in Phil’s resurgence has been his driving distance. In 2019 he has seen a massive spike in club head speed, and it has a lot of golfers scratching their heads. Phil has never been a physical specimen, and over the last several seasons he has been losing ground off the tee. But this year he finds himself in the top 25 in driving distance and improved dramatically in the strokes gained off-the-tee category.
In this article, I want to talk about some of the training he’s doing. I’ve also followed a somewhat similar path and want to share some results I have seen as well. It’s not a far-fetched goal for golfers who want to add speed to their swing and improve their overall fitness levels.
Most golfers assume that PGA Tour players who have Phil’s physique aren’t doing any extensive fitness routine. The truth of the matter is that most of them are on some golf-specific workout regimen. Phil has been on record that he has been working out with the help of the Titleist Performance Institute (TPI) since 2003. He credits his regimen for helping lengthen his career and keeping him mostly injury free.
For the past several years his driver club head speed has been respectable, here are his averages:
- 2016: 115.41 mph
- 2017: 114.24 mph
- 2018: 116.48 mph
Those are excellent numbers for a man in his late forties. The problem is that the newest generation of golfers routinely averages well over 120 mph and into the 130mph region. Phil has ranked almost dead last in strokes gained off the tee in those years with a combination of shorter driving distance and accuracy issues. If you want to win on tour these days, that combination makes it a much harder task.
So when Phil started posting swing speeds of 122mph and ball speeds upwards of 185mph, people’s heads turned. How did he regain so much speed this late in his career?
Many people have taken note of Phil’s use of a product called SuperSpeed Golf. He’s been seen on TV warming up with their speed sticks before rounds for over a year now. Their system trains your body to swing faster using a concept called Overspeed training. I’ve written about them before on the site, and use them myself in workouts.
Here is a video of him using them back in 2017:
I spoke with Kyle Shay from SuperSpeed Golf, and he was able to confirm that Mickelson started using their product sometime around May of 2017. For the last year, he’s been even more committed to the workout regimen with swing coach Andrew Getson and a team from TPI. Phil was inspired by fellow 40-something Tom Brady’s work with throwing coach Tom House. Brady uses a concept called Overload/Underload training that has gained popularity in multiple sports, helping improve the velocity of an athlete’s throwing and swinging motion.
So the combination of Phil using SuperSpeed Golf’s system and his continued fitness regimen have allowed him to turn back the clock.
I’ve Been Doing Something Similar
Usually, I don’t talk too much about professional golfers on this site because what they can do versus the rest of the golfing public is much different. But the number one question I get from most golfers I speak with is how they can learn to hit the golf ball farther.
The typical golfer doesn’t drive the ball more than 225 yards. A lot of it has to do with their inability to generate enough club head speed. Most recreational golfers are sitting all day at work and not doing enough physically to help reverse that trend, but it doesn’t have to be that way!
You can’t just decide you want to increase your clubhead speed though, you need a plan. Recently, I’ve been experimenting with one.
At 35 years old I’m starting to realize that my body will not remain injury-free and generate enough clubhead speed forever. For most of my life, I’ve been able to swing my driver fast enough to drive it plenty far, but that day is coming to an end…and probably soon. While I’ve always taken fitness seriously, this is the first year that I am doing a golf-specific regimen. My goal is to keep my body in good shape for golf and to add distance. I regularly compete in events against college-aged golfers, and length is important (amongst all of the other topics I talk about on this site).
So for the last several months, I’ve been following a routine similar to Phil – I am working with the SuperSpeed Golf system and following a golf workout with many of the TPI fundamentals.
Mike Carroll from Fit for Golf put me through a TPI evaluation, which revealed several issues that I can work on. On top of that, I’ve been working out three times a week with his offseason program.
Between the SuperSpeed regimen and golf fitness workouts, I’m devoting about 2 1/2 – 3 hours total a week, which is not a huge time commitment. The combination has shown immediate results. I’ve added about 10-15 yards in distance across the board rather quickly, and expect that to continue. My body feels more flexible and powerful. I estimate I’ve added about five pounds of muscle. Most importantly, my swing mechanics feel no different.
A lot of the golf world still approaches fitness with skepticism, but if you do the right kind of work, the results are usually worth it.
It’s Never Too Late
Phil is 48; I’m 35. Some of you reading this could be 70. Your age doesn’t matter; it’s never too late to start working on your body. If golf is an integral part of your life and you want to prevent those nagging injuries and hit the ball a bit farther to show off to your buddies, these kinds of workouts can help. Also, if you’re not currently doing any sort of physical activity, you’ll get a few nice side benefits – controlling your weight, combatting health conditions like heart disease, improving your mood, and increasing your overall energy level.