Dustin Johnson won his first major championship at the US Open with a stunning display of precision power at Oakmont.
He was regularly booming tee shots well over 350 yards using his TaylorMade M1 driver, tearing up the 7,255 yard par 70 track and winning by three shots over Shane Lowry.
But Johnson played his last seven holes knowing he had to review a possible rules infringement after the round. He shot 68 to finish five under but was then penalised a shot for making his ball move on the fifth green.
The headlines will revolve around the shortest club in Johnson's bag, but he won his first major thanks to the longest club – and earlier this year we caught up with him to find out how his hits it so far, and so straight.
Where does your power come from?
Power is a product of leverage, speed, strength, good mechanics and of course, properly fitted equipment. Being tall, I have a naturally big arc. However, I always focus on maintaining the width of my swing to maximise my power. Finally, you have to hit the ball solidly. No matter how much speed you generate, you will lose both power and accuracy on mishits.
What are your driving swing keys?
Personally, I always focus on maintaining my posture/spine angle, which requires that I retain the flex in my right knee on the backswing. If my right knee stiffens, I lose my spine angle and my path changes, resulting in a loss of power and errant tee shots. I also focus on making a long, slow takeaway and swinging in balance.
How can club golfers hit it further?
Quite honestly, most golfers should place more emphasis on striking the ball solidly. Power begins with solid contact. Beyond solid contact and good mechanics, most golfers would benefit from becoming more flexible, especially as they age
What are your top three driving tips for amateurs?
1. Focus on making solid contact, rather than just trying to hit it “hard.”
2. Swing within yourself and maintain good posture and balance throughout the swing.
3. Invest in getting professionally fit with a driver (preferably a TaylorMade!) for maximum results. It’s one of the best investments a golfer can make!
Do you ever change your set-up/ball position/tee height to hit specific tee shots?
I will sometimes tee it up a little higher downwind and vice versa. However, amateurs have to be very careful about teeing it up low when going against the wind, as they will often subconsciously make a “steeper” swing to help the ball into the air, which creates more spin and an ever higher ball flight.
What’s more important on tour today – distance or accuracy?
Both! However, it seems the modern game is placing more emphasis on distance than on accuracy.
Do you favour a fade or a draw?
My natural ball flight is a soft draw, but I can work the ball either way when necessary.
Do you do anything different if you really want to boom one?
I mostly just focus on my normal swing keys, such as a long, slow takeaway, maintaining my spine angle, staying “wide” and swinging in balance. In terms of set-up, I sometimes tee the ball up slightly higher and move it forward in my stance just a tad.
Do you do anything different if you MUST hit the fairway?
Not too much, other than making sure I make a nice, controlled, balanced swing. I do, however, sometimes tee the ball down just a bit.
How many drives do you hit on the range before a round?
Fewer than you would think. I probably only hit five to eight drives before going to the first tee.
Have you picked up distance with the TaylorMade’s M1 that you put in play at the end of last year?
Without question! It’s the most technologically-advanced driver TaylorMade has ever designed, which has been years in the making. I saw an immediate increase in ball speed, which results in more distance. I also love the look and feel of it, which is a bonus. It’s also the most functionally adjustable driver TaylorMade has ever produced, which really allows you to fine-tune your ball flight.
How do you set up the weights on the bottom?
I have the front track weight in the middle/neutral position, and the back track weight all the way back.
What are the most important Trackman numbers to you?
I use Trackman to get a general feel for my launch, spin and ball speed numbers. However, there is no substitute for seeing my ball flight on the course under playing conditions.
How important is the right ball?
The right ball is very important. A ball with too much or too little spin can dramatically influence both distance and accuracy, especially at the professional level. The TaylorMade Tour Preferred ball has worked very well for me and I am excited about playing the 2016 model.
What’s the best drive you’ve ever hit?
That’s hard to say, but the one I hit on the 72nd hole at the US Open (Chambers Bay) last year was pretty special (he smashed one 370 yards straight down the middle).
Do you admire any other long games?
Jason Day has a beautiful long game, as does Adam Scott.
Do your playing partners ever say “Jesus, that’s long!”
Haha! Yeah, I hear some pretty funny comments, especially when I really catch one.
Are Tour players hitting it further every year?
It certainly seems that way. The younger players are bigger, stronger, more focused on their fitness, which is a good thing.