If you were to build the perfect power player, he’d look a lot like this guy. Tall and flexible, with long arms and wonderful rhythm, Dustin Johnson is built for speed. And now that his go-to tee shot is a controlled fade, he’s hitting more fairways, too.
Says Butch Harmon, Johnson’s coach since 2010, “When DJ’s driving it well, he’s the
favourite to win every week.”
Johnson might seem like a physical freak, but Harmon says there’s plenty for average golfers to learn from his driving. For one, Johnson doesn’t restrict any part of his body during the swing. His hips make a big turn going back, and his head swivels freely with the momentum of the swing. So forget what you’ve heard about limiting hip turn or keeping your head still. Johnson’s swing is Exhibit A that freedom of motion is critical for speed. Also, check out the width of his swing arc back and through – it all adds up to a lethal display of power and precision.
Let’s take a closer look at what you can learn from the best driver in the game.
‘Last year, he was No.1 in strokes gained off the tee. What else can you say?’- Butch Harmon
Ready to rip
Notice two things in Dustin Johnson’s driver setup: his stance is super wide, and the shaft is leaning significantly away from the target. “Standing wide tilts the spine back, setting up a big turn behind the ball,” Butch Harmon says. As for the shaft: “He’s about to forward press, so the hands will move up.”
Right off the ball, Johnson establishes a wide arc, with his arms extending and wrists hinging gradually. “Dustin’s width, here and going through, might be the best tip for amateurs. Keep the grip end of the club away from your body,” Harmon says.
Johnson’s massive upper-body rotation overshadows a significant turn of the hips. “You hear that the modern swing is: turn the shoulders, but don’t turn the hips,” Harmon says. “DJ proves you can – and should – turn both if you want speed on the downswing.”
After turning into his trail leg on the backswing, Johnson starts down by shifting hard to his front side. “See how DJ’s right elbow looks jammed into his right side? That tells me his lower body is leading,” Harmon says. “It lets him maintain the wrist hinge, creating clubhead lag and explosiveness.”
“This is perfect impact for Dustin,” Harmon says. “He’s so strong, he can have a closed clubface at the top of the swing and then hit the ball with his hands so far ahead that the face comes in dead square.” Might be best to just marvel at this position.v
Turn and burn
Harmon says another key takeaway is Johnson’s forward rotation: “Look at how quickly his weight gets to his front foot and his lower body clears. Try letting your head turn to the target so your body can keep rotating. Don’t worry about taking your eye off the ball – nobody’s gonna steal it!”
Looking at Johnson pose the finish, you’d never know the club was going 125 miles an hour at impact. (He ranked 10th last year in clubhead speed.) He’s balanced, and his body is fully released, with the right shoulder closer to the target than the left. Harmon says it best: “Hello, liftoff!”
35 / 193cm / 86kg Jupiter, Florida
TaylorMade M5 (10.5 degrees)
TaylorMade TP5x (2019)