Golf School: Dustin Johnson on Making Your Tee Shots Count

After his nail biter win at the Northern Trust this past week and his incredible season that has earned him #1 in the world, it’s safe to say that DJ doesn’t only hit the ball a long way but he puts that long drive to good use by hitting his second shot to the pin.

Golf Digest spoke with him earlier this season and he gave his tips on how to do the same:


Off The Tee

“The best thing about playing a fade is that it’s reliable. The second-best thing is you really don’t have to make major adjustments to hit the shot. Keep in mind, I don’t want the ball to curve a whole lot unless the hole calls for it. More important, the way I hit a fade is not with a glancing blow across the ball. It feels really solid coming off the clubface.”

1- I set up slightly open with my feet, meaning they’re aligned a little left of my target. This puts my body in a position where I can swing on a path that’s along my toe line. In other words, out to in in relation to my target. My ball position stays the same, just off my left heel, and my grip pressure is about a 5 on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being really tight.

2- I get a lot of attention because I keep my left wrist bowed as I swing to the top, but this puts the clubface in great position for me to hit that power fade, provided I swing on that out-to-in path on the way down. The face is closed in relation to my target, but it’s slightly open to the path, and that’s what makes it start left but curve back where I want it.

3- Because of my bowed wrist, I don’t have to do anything but turn my body and let my arms swing through the ball. The clubface and path do the rest.

4- If I keep turning into a full finish, the ball sails. If you stop the swing short, you’ll probably hit a weak fade, or maybe even a slice. Keep rotating.


Off The Green

“It’s such a bad feeling to hit a great drive and then hit a short iron nowhere near the hole. That’s why I went to work early last season on figuring out how far I hit those clubs. Being pin high, even if you’re a little left or right of the hole, is a key to scoring. I used a TrackMan and kept practicing with each short iron, swinging it three different backswing lengths, and then trying to guess how far the ball would fly. TrackMan would confirm whether I was right or wrong, but it got to the point where I was right 95 percent of the time. To dial in each wedge, here’s what I do.”

1- I play the ball in roughly the same spot for each club, centered between my feet. I square the face with my target, but I keep my stance line slightly open, and swing as if I’m playing a fade. It makes it easier to keep the clubface square.

2- The backswing with each club is key. I’ll swing the club halfway back, three-quarters back or make a full backswing depending on how far I want the ball to go. I don’t swing harder; just longer. This gives me the three stock yardages with each short iron.

3- My downswing is always the same. There’s really not a lot of wrist action. My hands stay quiet, and I turn through the ball at the same pace no matter how far I took it back. It’s that fade-swing mentality.

4- One final thing to remember: Short shots still require a full finish. Don’t saw off your swing, or distance control will be more of a guessing game.


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