DJ keeps it simple but is far from stupidJune 15, 2018
There's much more to the World No. 1 than meets the eye – especially when it comes to his golf equipment, writes James Savage
Dustin Johnson may seem like he hasn’t a care in the world. He doesn’t get too excited and doesn’t throw clubs when he hits a bad shot.
But that doesn’t mean he’s not a perfectionist who is constantly tweaking his equipment to get dialled in for each event he plays.
He added a new Project X Hzrdus Black driver shaft to match that in his 3-wood and driving iron.
Not many players would dream about tweaking their gear after such a comprehensive win but taking a bit of spin off the driver heading to a windy US Open just seems like common sense to me.
Admittedly, Johnson hadn’t even seen the course at Shinnecock Hills before he arrived at the start of the week.
“If I can’t figure out a golf course in three days, I need to find a new job,” is his way of thinking according to swing coach Claude Harmon III.
Can’t argue with his logic there either.
And roll the clock back to the start of the year where he dominated at the Tournament of Champions in Hawaii.
Why? Basically because it was a long and straight golf course and he didn’t need to shape the ball as much as would at somewhere like Riviera or Augusta.
Johnson switched to the M3 for those two venues where he deployed one of the moveable weights in the heel to help him hit his trademark fade off the tee.
It highlights how DJ helps himself by picking the right equipment for the right events. It’s not rocket science.
He is a supremely talented athlete and golfer. Jordan Spieth described him as a freak. And he meant it in a good way.
But you don’t rack up 18 wins including a US Open title without putting the hours in on the practice ground.
Earlier this year at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship I watched him spend the majority of his time hitting 100-yard wedge shots while those around him pummelled drivers into the back fence.
There are more than a few players missing the cut this week who could learn from that.
His bunker play has been nothing short of sensational this season – again, not something that happens by accident.
Johnson has an interesting wedge set-up with a 52˚ gap wedge before a 60˚ and a 64˚. If his name was Phil Mickelson we’d be lauding the genius of it all.
And let’s not forget that his irons the DJ Proto/P730 were made specially for him by TaylorMade.
We asked their head of irons Tomo Bystedt what Johnson was like to work with through the process.
“He’s very opinionated about his clubs and has very specific requirements,” Bystedt said.
“He’s a very visceral player and will make decisions based on the ball flight he wants to see. He’s very results orientated.
“When asked who is the best ball-striker from all our staff players it’s very hard not to say Dustin.”
So yes, Johnson is a laid back character. But just because he doesn’t like to over-think things, doesn’t mean he’s not a thinker.
And his success over the first two rounds hasn’t all been about power and skill. Strategy has played a huge part.
“I feel like, if I can get a look at par and not make any doubles, you know, I’m going to make a couple birdies. But limit the mistakes, especially limit the big numbers.
“I know I’m playing well, so as long as I can do that, then I’m going to shoot a pretty good score.
“When I do get out of position, I’m just trying to do everything I can to get it back into position, not try to push it, and just give myself a decent look at 4 – whether that’s a 5-footer or a 25-footer, just something on the green where I can have a look at par.
“I want to make things as easy as possible, even though they don’t get any easier, but just easier on myself.”
If Johnson continues to keep things simple, he’ll be lifting a second US Open trophy on Sunday afternoon.