A tale of Lefty, Bones and one spectacular wedge shot

Phil Mickelson-Jim Mackay Eric Risberg/Associated Press

A tale of Lefty, Bones and one spectacular wedge shot

PGA Tour

A tale of Lefty, Bones and one spectacular wedge shot

CROMWELL, Conn. – I knew Jim Mackay was as cool as they come before I went to the 2012 PGA Championship at Kiawah, but on the Monday evening before the start of that event, as the hot South Carolina sun was lowering into the sea beside the Ocean Course, he sealed it for me.

From previous conversations on the range, Bones knew that I covered equipment and was always on the lookout for new gear in Phil Mickelson’s bag. That evening, as I was getting ready to leave, I saw him standing on the 10th tee with Mickelson’s bag, and he waved me over to him. We shook hands and then Mackay took the cover off Phil’s putter and said that he had something new, something from Odyssey that was for the Japanese market. He wanted to be sure I got some photographs of it.

Phil Mickelson-Clubs

Phil Mickelson’s putter at the 2012 PGA Championship. (David Dusek/Golfweek)

It was a classy move that was above and beyond the call of duty, but what came next was off the charts.

A minute later, Mickelson came bounding down a hill toward us and Jim said to him, “Hey Phil, you know David, right?”

Phil and I had spoken very briefly, one-on-one, only once before so I doubt Mickelson had any idea who I was.

“Sure, great to see you,” he said.

“Hey David, walk some holes with us,” Bones said, handing Phil a club and a ball.

Only a handful of late-staying, partial sober fans were still hanging around when Mickelson smacked his tee shot. The three of us followed it, walking down the middle of the fairway.

From a large house near the 11th tee, a fan at a party recognized Mickelson and yelled out his name. Phil waved across the marshy area and then said, “Laser me a yardage Bones, I want to hit a wedge over to them.”

Bones called out the number, “It’s 122. I like a three-quarter pitching wedge.”

With that, Mickelson dropped a new ball on the tee box and hit a pitch shot at the pool next to the house. As the ball flew, the fan who had yelled Phil’s name dove off a second-floor deck and into the pool. A moment later, cheers from the pool area erupted and a man held up the ball.

“You know, if that kid had dived in the pool and gotten hurt, I’d have gotten sued,” Phil laughed.

I walked two more holes with them that evening and we talked about the challenges of the Ocean Course and how Mickelson and Mackay were planning to win their second PGA Championship that week. It was a Ph.D-level introduction into how an elite player breaks down a championship course. Phil and Bones talked through the lines off the tee, ideal landing areas, prevailing winds, good misses and the areas that had to be avoided at all cost.

By the time I peeled off and said good night, I felt like I knew more about playing those holes at Kiawah than their designer, Pete Dye.

I owe the whole experience to Mackay. It was spontaneous, educational and completely unnecessary on his part. It was beyond anything any other caddie has done for me. He didn’t have to do it but did it anyway.

Other writers have their Bones stories because he was friendly and inviting on so many occasions. That’s why it seems like everyone is coming out on social media and in columns to heap praise on Mickelson and Mackay. Their partnership was long-lasting, and over its 25 years, they brought a lot of us along for the ride.

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