Golfers, like most professional athletes, get reputations for their interactions with the media.
Jordan Spieth: polite as they come. Rory McIlroy: thoughtful and honest. Jon Rahm: introspective.
Dustin Johnson also has quite the reputation for his interactions with the media. Cool, distant and uninterested are all words that have been thrown around concerning his public persona. But even with that reputation in mind, when the opportunity to chat with the No. 2-ranked golfer in the world came up, I jumped at the opportunity. It’s not every day you get to pick the brain of one of the most talented golfers in the world.
Heading into the call, I fully expected to be chatting with the DJ I’d become familiar with in press conferences throughout the years. But much to my surprise, the DJ I talked with was nothing like the aloof golfer he’s come to be characterized as. He was thoughtful and engaging throughout our 15-minute call, and I learned a lot, too.
Here are four tips he shared with me about golf.
1. Find a go-to shot shape
Johnson has become known for his big, beautiful fades off the tee, so I asked him what it is about the left-to-right shot shape that suits his eye. He told me about a day at the end of 2015 when everything changed.
“I was really struggling off the tee — my misses were really bad,” he said. “So I said, ‘I’m going to cut it today,’ and I went out and cut it and I hit a bunch of fairways. Went out the next day, hit a bunch of fairways. So I went, ‘You know what? I’m going to cut it from now on.’ It’s about as simple as that”
If you find a shot shape that’s working, stick with it.
2. Keep swing thoughts simple
Everyone has a go-to thought that they use to swing their best, and pros are no different. For Johnson, he likes to keep it simple.
“[My swing thought] can vary, but I like to only have one,” he said. “Generally if I have to think more than one thing, it’s not going to be a very good day.”
3. Get your wedges dialed in
Johnson has always been a capable player, but once he became one of the best wedge players in the world, he took his game to the next level. But that transformation with the wedges didn’t happen overnight. It took tons of grinding on the range with a Trackman by his side to achieve these heights — and it requires constant maintenance.
Before each round, the bulk of his warm-up routine is used making sure he knows exactly how far each wedge is flying. The exact carry distance of each wedge can vary by day, so Johnson likes to dial them in daily to make sure he can hunt flags efficiently.
“I always work on distance control,” Johnson said. “I have shots that I hit 85, 95, 105, and I can adjust off of that for my numbers … I try to leave shots at my numbers where I know I’ll have a good look at it.”
4. Hydration is key to performance
With the amount of time Johnson spends outside in the sun, he must be extra conscientious of his hydration levels. If he’s not intaking the correct amount of fluids, his game will suffer.
“I drink BodyArmor all the time,” he said. “I’ve got to make sure I get all the nutrients and stuff I need in my body.”
All golfers would be wise to heed this advice.