Prior to the 2010 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach Golf Links, Phil Mickelson was preparing for the major when, suddenly, something seemed off.
His joints ached. A finger felt jammed. His right ankle throbbed. Was one of his wrists sprained, he thought? Just shy of his 40th birthday, maybe all those years of golf were finally taking a toll. He brushed it aside. Yet two days before the championship began, he awoke in excruciating pain. He fought through it for a T-4 finish, a bit of a herculean effort considering his forthcoming diagnosis.
After wincing during the third round, he hinted of fighting through … something.
“I’m not really sure,” said Mickelson. “I would rather not get into it. It just doesn’t sound or feel good. I mean, it’s been tough, and it was a tough day on the golf course.”
During that time, he sought out a rheumatologist, who ultimately pinpointed his condition as psoriatic arthritis. In many ways, that diagnosis turned into a catalyst of sorts, because Mickelson gradually ingratiated himself to better health and wellness. He lost 30 pounds in 2021, looking more svelte.
Part of that can be attributed to longtime friend Dave Phillips — the world-renowned performance coach and co-founder of Titleist Performance Institute (TPI), a mammoth golf, health, and fitness organization in the industry.
The two decided to co-found For Wellness, a brand that promotes healthy food, beverage products and messaging.
For a long time, wellness — best described as overall health and mental acuity — had lived within golf’s shadows. Today it’s more than just a buzzword. Players like Mickelson have emphasized its importance in the same breath as taking thousands of practice range swings to stay sharp.
Phillips had long banged the drum for wellness as an integral performance maximization staple.
“When you’re an elite athlete, they are looking for every edge,” Phillips said. “Today, to get to the levels these guys are at, if you’re not thinking about your body, your brain health, or you’re not thinking about your technique, you’re going to lose.”
While growing up in Kenya, Phillips’ father introduced him to coffee. Soon, while bounding between 27 different countries, seeking out coffee bistros became something of a passion. He’s an aficionado, pointing out that “82 percent of the world starts their day with a cup of coffee.”
After meeting Mickelson more than 20 years ago, the two would get together over coffee. Phillips had an epiphany when Mickelson found he had psoriatic arthritis.
“One of the big things is food and stuff creates inflammation in body and most disease comes from inflammation in your body,” said Phillips. “Black coffee on its own already has the highest rate of antioxidants of any food you take. It’s the milk, the sugars and what we put in it that ruins it.”
Knowing how much Mickelson loves coffee, Phillips hypothesized that if he created a healthy additive, it could lead to untold benefits. He formulated a special blend of performance ingredients that could boost natural benefits.
“I just started formulating like a grandmother in the kitchen and began creating stuff,” Phillips said. He began tracking what professional athletes, nutritionists and biohackers were taking, recommending and discussing.
Soon the combination of C-8 MCT Powder, L-Theanine, Collagen, Cinnamon and Himalayan Pink Salt gave birth to The Good Stuff coffee packets, which Mickelson loved.
Beside regulating metabolism, improving mood and energy with C-8 MCT Powder, Phillips found L-Theanine (derived from green tea extract) which offers the same natural effects as caffeine. The collagen reduces inflammation and improves joint mobility, while cinnamon serves as an anti-inflammatory, boosting brain function and the immune system. Finally, the Himalayan Pink Salt downplays coffee’s natural acidity and helps the body to stay hydrated.
All are important components for a golfer. Especially for one who walks roughly 26 miles over four rounds.
Phillips piloted a blend he dubbed The Good Stuff around 2019 and sampled it with Mickelson a year later. They brainstormed other healthy products that could complement it. Soon, low calorie Superfood Energy Bites, high oxidant coffee pods and whole-bean coffee rounded out the merchandise.
The 90-calorie energy bites, with almonds, honey, cacao butter and lion’s mane mushroom, taste like a chocolate brownie with a coffee hint.
Phillips feels they could be a game-changer for health-conscious golfers.
“I wanted something they could take on the golf course that wasn’t some big heavy thing,” said Phillips. “It’s important when they’re playing five and six hours at a time that they keep blood sugar levels as even as they can, and hydrating and eating. Most people don’t understand your brain has a lot of work to do on the golf course, especially at the highest level. If you’re not feeding it, that’s a problem.”
Mickelson went all in. When Phillips introduced the products to him, he introduced them to his diet and lost the weight.
“It’s not easy,” said Phillips. “You have to stay disciplined, and he has.”
As the products roll out, For Wellness is primarily targeting North America and hoping to get into other areas. Some countries have stringent criteria that must be met before being approved for sale.
For now, Phillips said if people take accountability for their own wellness, it will go a long way toward living their best life.
Count Mickelson as a convert.
“Coffee has changed my life,” says Mickelson on the For Wellness website. “I have made it the foundation of my overall health and wellness.”