Andrew Getson’s influence on Phil Mickelson was immediate, but it took more than five years for the pair to create a slice of golf history that stunned the world.
In the midst of the chaos that surrounded Mickelson walking down the 72nd hole of a PGA Championship that elicited Tiger-like roars, Getson was the Australian silent partner in the background.
A product of the Victorian Institute of Sport under Dale Lynch and Steve Bann in a late-1990s class that included Geoff Ogilvy and Aaron Baddeley, Getson had dreams of golf glory of his own.
Lynch first started coaching Getson when he was a junior member at Commonwealth Golf Club in Melbourne and believes his work ethic as a player has contributed to Getson’s success as a coach.
“He worked very hard on his game but he wasn’t in the elite area of amateurs,” said Lynch, who took Ogilvy all the way to the 2006 US Open.
“It’s like in other sports, the guys that have to work hard at their craft tend to show a greater appreciation for that side of it.”
Getson enjoyed only sporadic starts on the PGA Tour of Australasia in the early 2000s and to supplement his income worked first as a caddie and then as coach at the exclusive Capital Golf Club that was the private playground of the rich and famous. It was there that Bann believes Getson developed the people skills necessary to connect with highly successful people such as kings of industry and legendary lefties.
“I used to do the coaching for the VIP Services at Capital Golf Club and Andrew was working there as a caddie working for VIPs and transitioned into doing some coaching,” revealed Bann, adding that Getson worked with such luminaries as US President Bill Clinton.
“That was a really good experience for him because he got to spend time and learn to communicate and deal with very successful people.
“To get your foot in the door at that level is not easy. If you can get the foot in the door and communicate confidence and belief in yourself and what you’re doing, you’re a much better chance of having someone take the time to listen to what you’ve got to say.”
Getson earned a Nationwide Tour card at the 2005 PGA Tour Final Qualifying School but found little success, missing the cut in each of his eight starts in the 2006 season.
In 2009 Getson transitioned out of playing and into a full-time coaching at Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale, Arizona, the club for which Mickelson has been a PGA Tour ambassador since 1992 and which boasts ‘Phil’s Grill’ restaurant.
When the five-time Major champion parted ways with Butch Harmon in November 2015, the opportunity to hear Getson’s guidance presented itself through Mickelson’s caddie, Jim ‘Bones’ Mackay, who spoke glowingly of the lessons he had been receiving himself.
“We’ve got to give a pat on the back to Andrew Getson,” Mackay said in Golf Channel’s final-round review.
“He’s stuck in there with Phil. He’s very opinionated, very knowledgeable and he tells Phil exactly what he thinks.”
“The first thing that Andrew addressed was something that I think a lot of the coaches that Phil had worked with were afraid to, which is that there was a flaw in his swing,” Bann added.
“Because he’s got such brilliant hands he could hit the ball well from anywhere, but when Andrew addressed the early steepness in his downswing plane, that made his bad shot a whole lot better.
“From that point on Phil has thought finally someone has stepped up and showed him what to change to get better.”
At a time when many questioned whether Mickelson could still compete on the PGA Tour, Getson’s simple philosophy to the golf swing struck a chord that brought instant results.
“At the age of 45, Mickelson appears to be experiencing a reassurance in his game under Getson’s tutelage,” Michael Fitzpatrick wrote for Bleacher Report in February 2016.
“Getson’s teaching philosophy is not too dissimilar to Harmon’s in that he has no intention of reinventing the wheel. He works to simply adjust minor swing flaws without altering a player’s natural move to the ball.
“In just three months, Mickelson’s work with Getson already appears to be paying dividends.”
Five years later and with the golf world hanging on every word, Mickelson shared his thoughts on why Getson has been able to help him break through the age barrier and set a new benchmark in possibility.
“He is a tremendous instructor because of his ability to simplify it,” 50-year-old Mickelson said after becoming the oldest Major champion in the game’s history.
“He doesn’t cloud my head with a lot of things. When he’s out here with me, he’s able to keep me on track right away if I make a few errors.
“His guidance has been invaluable to get me back to playing at the highest level because I was striking it very poorly when we started working together.
“He’s really helped me get my ball-striking back and as I’m starting to focus a little bit better, you’re starting to see the results. But he has been getting my swing there for some time now.”
Steepness in the downswing was Getson’s own poor pattern as a player but with Kevin Streelman (T-8 at Kiawah) and Si Woo Kim also within his stable, Mickelson’s victory is likely to bring even more of the attention he actively tries to so avoid.
“If you’d told me that Andrew Getson was going to be a world-class coach when he was a young guy at the VIS, I wouldn’t have thought that was his pathway,” Bann said.
“But it’s certainly worked out all right.”