Some of you might find this interesting – I have long held out three players on the PGA Tour, namely Phil Mickelson, Vijay Singh and Bubba Watson (another one would be John Daly, but he has been irrelevant for so long, and has now turned 50, as did Vijay a few years ago, so I rarely mention JD) as models of the “Classic Golf Swing,” apart from the modern swingers.
And now word comes that Phil Mickelson, who had a sports hernia operation in October, has had a 2nd procedure to treat the same injury, which has me suspicious – about the cause, not about whether he had a hernia or not.
From Kyle Porter for CBSSports.com:
Phil Mickelson’s first sports hernia surgery of the 2016 offseason came back at the end of October.
Mickelson underwent a second sports hernia surgery recently, according to a statement from his management team Monday evening. This surgery was to repair an apparent recurrence of the original sports hernia injury.
Here’s why my spider senses are tingling:
I was dismayed, as you would all suspect, by Vijay Singh’s experimentation with a planted-heel golf swing which, for a classic free-hip swinger who won a record 22 Tour events over the age of 40, including one of his three majors, to start – at the age of plus-50 – playing with fire and the planted heel swing.
It’s not just dangerous to be suddenly placing such strain on the lower back at an advanced age (in golf years) when you hadn’t been, heretofore – it’s insane, when your best swinging years and all of those Tour wins and majors were won with a classic golf swing!
Vijay – Don’t Do It!
But tinkerers will tinker, and Phil and Vijay are notorious for this trait – and it may have (I don’t have any proof either way, so I won’t make a factual claim), may have caught up with Phil.
Phil Mickelson was diagnosed, around 2010, I believe, with a debilitating disease – psoriatic arthritis, which is well-explained by Greg Kelly in this article for Golf.com:
There are more than 100 kinds of musculoskeletal disorders that are classified as arthritis; the psoriatic variety is one of the more insidious.
It comes without warning and causes all kinds of problems. Kind of like termites. In effect, the body is under siege from its own immune system, which is fighting a threat that doesn’t exist.
The result is systemic inflammation that attacks the skin and joints, causing damage in varying degrees.
Once the joints are damaged, the body is forced to compensate, creating other problems.
However, while Philly Mick has never been a chiseled-physique of the Tiger Woods kind of guy, in the first article to which I linked, Porter lays out how resilient Mick’s been to date:
Mickelson has been the bastion of health over the course of his 26-year career. He has played in at least 18 events every year since 1992 and has not made less than $1 million in a season since 1995. He almost never misses tournaments he wants to play in.
The only major he’s missed since 1994 was the 2009 Open Championship when he chose to be with his wife Amy as she started her recovery from breast cancer.
So, I’m not looking at his arthritic disease as the culprit, because a hernia is a soft-tissue injury, not a joint or skin one – we can agree on this without a medical degree being required, as well as agree that a hernia is caused by excess strain that likely includes twisting forces, as explained by the OrthoInfo website, and pay special attention to the bold underlined part:
A sports hernia is a painful, soft tissue injury that occurs in the groin area. It most often occurs during sports that require sudden changes of direction or intense twisting movements. Although a sports hernia may lead to a traditional, abdominal hernia, it is a different injury.
So, a Classic Golf Swing, as we know, doesn’t create any twisting in the lower back and abdomen area, but we know that a Modern Golf Swing with the planted heel does.
We also know that Phil, although he’s been classic “floating heel” swinger most of his career, has also experimented with planting his leading foot on the back swing (around the 1;20 mark):
Phil Mickelson Talks About “Creating Resistance” On The Back Swing
Now that video was from a few years ago, but he was fooling around with it back then, and I remember hearing or reading again, this past year (and it may even have been a Wax reader who commented on this, but I can’t locate that comment right now) that Phil was working on keeping his lead heel planted.
Does that make any sense? Of course it doesn’t, and Phil would usually be the first to tell anyone this as this passage from one of my postings on Phil lays out:
“You can play golf for a lifetime and injury-free if you swing the club like Bobby Jones did, like Ernest Jones used to teach — where it’s a swinging motion rather than a violent movement,” Mickelson said from Augusta.
“A lot of the young guys get hurt as they create this violent, connected movement, and I don’t believe that’s the proper way to swing the golf club.”
Mickelson said his freer move — a style championed by commentator Brandel Chamblee in his new book, “The Anatomy of Greatness” — is why he’s been able to play relatively injury-free into his mid-40s, and he worries about a generation of young players copying the aggressive lashes they see on tour telecasts.
But Phil is Phil…
My reaction at the time was, “Don’t do it, Phil, don’t.do.it!”
So, with Phil’s history of tinkering with his swing, I wonder about his past efforts to swing with a planted heel at times, and whether he’s been tinkering around with this again, because I can’t imagine how he was exerting such twisting forces – he even talks about creating resistance in the video above, which is exactly how you can hurt yourself swinging a golf club – with a proper free-hip pivot as he’s swung for the overwhelming bulk of his career.
In short, swinging with a free hip turn and a “floating heel” with the lead foot would preclude the exact injury for which Phil has just had two surgeries, if you dig me.
Because, that’s a modern golf swing injury, not one you’ll find in a free-hip swing.
So, all I’m saying is that I hope Phil didn’t give himself a hernia trying more modern golf swing junk, but that’s my suspicion, absent another and obvious cause, like another snowboarding accident…