Only slightly less headline grabbing, but every bit as entertaining as Bryson DeChambeau’s experiment to use a 48-inch driver shaft next week at the Masters, will be a similar decision by Phil Mickelson to chase distance at the season’s final major.
On this week’s Callaway Golf podcast, Mickelson explained that he plans to use a 47 ½-inch driver shaft with an eye toward taking advantage of the added length on specific holes. Lefty said a 315- to 320-yard carry on Nos. 2, 8, 14 and 17 give a player a distinct advantage and largely dictate how aggressive you can play those holes.
Mickelson specifically outlined how a longer shaft could change the way he plays the first hole.
“If you can carry that [fairway] bunker, it’s a sand wedge in and you’re thinking birdie. If you have to hit a 3-wood off of the tee and go to the side, or if you can’t carry it and you have to play more to the left, it’s a 6- or 7-iron into the green, so you’re thinking par,” Mickelson said. “There’s the ability to attack a number of holes if you can fly the ball a little bit farther.”
Mickelson said the longer shaft in his driver allows him to carry the ball 320 yards, where DeChambeau recently posted pictures on social media of 400-yard carries with his driver.
Under the Rules of Golf, shaft length is maximized at 48 inches. Mickelson used the 47 1/2-inch driver shaft in winning the PGA Tour Champions' Dominion Energy Classic and used it at the Zozo Championship, where he finished 76th among the 77 finishers. Mickelson said he plans to use the shaft, which is 1 1/2 inches longer than his normal version, this week at the Vivint Houston Open.