Today’s pro athletes (and plenty of amateurs and weekend warriors, too) use the latest technology to get deeper insight into their performance—and an edge on their competitors. Although the sport is steeped in tradition, golf is no different. We caught up with 2016 U.S. Open champion Dustin Johnson to learn more about how he uses tech, most notably the TrackMan monitoring system, to up his game.
Johnson is already one of the fittest golfers on the PGA Tour, but muscle only goes so far—golf is a game of finesse, and systems like the TrackMan help him dial in his shots. And there’s no shortage of data to assess.
“You can get as in-depth as you want,” he told Men’s Journal during a recent practice round at Floridian National Golf Club.
These days, golfers can get info on a huge range of metrics—the kinds of stats that athletes could only dream of a generation ago. These include things like face angle, spin access, and more. Johnson doesn’t like to go too far into the weeds, however. He focuses on just a few key parameters when he’s practicing.
“I try not to look at those things too much,” he said. “I’m always looking at the carry number and maybe the spin rate.” If he’s testing out drivers, he’ll check the speed of his shots as well.
For him, it’s about balance. The tracking gives him a window into what’s happening with each of his shots, so he can adjust accordingly. But getting too metrics-obsessed can also be a big distraction, and that’s something that Johnson definitely wants to avoid.
“I just want to know how far it’s going and I can figure the rest out from there,” he said. “So I try to keep it pretty simple.”