At the Deutsche Bank Championships in 2011, on the seventh hole, Dustin Johnson pulled off the unthinkable. He sent a ball 463 yards across the green. That’s the longest drive the PGA Tour has seen this decade.
Johnson came in fifth overall that year, but every year, he’s been one of the tour’s longest drivers. Usually, DJ drives in the neighborhood of 350 yards. In a Men’s Journal interview, the 2016 U.S. Open champion broke down his technique.
To start, Johnson says, he squares off his position. “I never rotate the club face from the ball, so to me, I’m always square to the ball” he says, though the swing wasn’t the work of any teacher. Johnson’s self-taught: “I don’t know how it happened. I just started doing it.”
When it comes to the stroke itself, Johnson advocates the left wrist bow. Golf legend Ben Hogan championed this hand position, and today it’s commonplace among pro golfers. But while many golfers bow their hand on the downswing, Johnson maintains the position from the outset. At the top of his lift, he’s bowed his left wrist already.
Locking the wrists into place gives him more consistency for his drives. “I’m taking less, less movement out in the face,” he says. “I feel like it’s a little easier for me to control where the ball’s going.” The bowed wrist combines with the posture, foot lift, and leading with the grip to produce DJ’s bombshell drive.
To the pro golfer, his stroke hinges on two things: the path the club takes to hit the ball, and where it exits. His squared-off position easily shifts to accommodate the club face’s clean hit, making the most of the several feet of swing the golfer has to work with. “That’s just training,” he says. “I train very hard and work on my speed a lot.”
And his swing is defined by its speed—in the 2017–18 PGA Tour, his average swing speed was 122 mph, with a max of 127. The fastest swinger, Keith Mitchell, averaged 124. As for the distance, DJ says he’s always been a long hitter. Even as far back as college, he says, “I was one of the longer guys, always.”
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