The idea came to Phil during a practice round for this year’s Northern Trust Open at Riviera Country Club. He told Callaway technicians that his dream utility club would behave like an iron from the fairway, and enable him to control distance consistently from the rough. Translation: crisp contact when his tee ball has earned it, and no fliers when it hasn’t.
With Mickelson's input, Callaway designed a clubhead shape that’s short from heel to toe and tall in the face, giving it a very compact look. The score lines on the face go all the way up, as they would on an iron; this helps channel away grass bits and moisture, even on balls contacted high on the face. The heel and toe are highly cambered, almost like the so-called C-grind on a wedge, the better to stay away from grabby grass blades. The heel has a lot of relief, so much so that Phil can even open the face – yes, with a hybrid – and hit an extra-long flop shot, which he did at one point on No. 15 Saturday from about 146 yards.
But the most striking aspect of Mickelson hybrid may be the sole, which looks almost like your dad’s old big-flange sand wedge. The front of the sole – essentially, the leading edge –is lower than the back of the sole as the club sits on the ground. This allows Mickelson to open the face, but it also helps move the center of gravity down and forward, which yields the kind of flight out of the rough that Phil was looking for. In the fairway, the part of the sole that actually goes through the turf is about the size of an iron sole, perhaps a little bigger.
The design process began after the Northern Trust Open (which Mickelson won), was into computer drafting by late April, and ready for Phil soon afterwards. That’s pretty rapid, compared to club development timelines of a decade ago.
Only one of these clubs exists now – and it’s a left-handed model, of course. Callaway is testing some RH prototypes, but can’t promise the club will ever make it to market. If it does, you’ll know who the inventor is, literally – word is Mickelson’s name may be listed on the patent application.