For most golfers, sending a ball sailing into a sand trap or water hazard is an inevitable but infuriating experience. It’s hard not to get a little ticked when a bad shot (or three) upsets an otherwise stellar round of golf. But when we asked pro golfer and 2016 U.S. Open Champion Dustin Johnson how he handles hitting a bad shot, he gave us a baffling, zen-like answer.
“It just doesn’t bother me,” he told Men’s Journal during a practice round at the Floridian National Golf Club.
“It’s not like surprising or anything,” he continued. “I do it all the time. Why would I get upset about it?”
Well, we can think of a few reasons why—and for most golfers, hitting a bad shot is one of the most frustrating aspects of the game.
But then Johnson explained some more, and his laid-back approach to bad shots started to make a whole lot of sense.
“At this level of golf, it’s all about your misses,” he said. “We all hit really good shots. It’s all about being able to play the shots where you mis-hit.”
For him, the key to getting an edge on his competition is being able to adapt to bad shots and the crappy ball locations they create. Whacking glorious drives and nailing delicate chip shots are the kinds of things we expect to see from pro golfers—but in Johnson’s view, players who aren’t thrown by bad shots are the ones who will succeed.
“That’s just part of the game,” he said.
His advice? Study your bad shots just like you study your good ones. Look for patterns in the way you miss, and then account for those patterns when you play a course. And above all, remember that missed shots are an essential part of the game, not something to freak out over.
“It’s like a baseball player striking out,” he said. “Or a basketball player. The best shooter misses more than half the time. Same with golf. We don’t hit em all good.”
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