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Opinion & Analysis

Dustin Johnson: Mr. Consistency



When you think Dustin Johnson, you think raw power.

You think majestic, soaring drives, like the kind he hit to win the 2013 Hyundai Tournament of Champions by four shots over defending champion Steve Stricker and lead the field in driving distance (307 yards). You think jaw-dropping, monster bombs off the tee like his drive Monday at the par-4, 420-yard 12th hole, which traveled a non-mortal 405 yards. When you think Dustin Johnson, you think of 400 yard drives you wish you could hit just once in your lifetime, let alone 12 times since 2003 like Johnson has — more than anyone else on Tour.

But what you really should be thinking is “consistency.”

Dustin Johnson 2013 Hyundai Tournament Of Champions TheGreekGrind Pappas 4

Mr. Consistency

Dustin Johnson is the Tour’s “Mr. Consistency.”

Now I know what you’re thinking. How can the big hitting Johnson be “Mr. Consistency” when he’s Jekyll & Hyde with the big stick? After all, while Johnson led the field at Kapalua in driving distance, he also finished dead last in fairways hit (51 percent). But consider the following:

With his victory in the 2013 season opener, Johnson became the first player since Tiger Woods (1996 – 2001) to win six consecutive years straight out of college (2008 – 2013). Johnson’s won at least one Tour event in each of the last six seasons, the second longest active streak on Tour behind only Phil Mickelson’s nine (2004 – 2012). And Johnson leads players in their 20s with seven career Tour wins. Players under the age of 30 with three or more victories on Tour include Johnson (7), Rory McIlroy (6), Anthony Kim (3), Webb Simpson (3) and Keegan Bradley (3).

Simply put, Johnson is Mr. Consistency because he wins as regularly as anyone on Tour. And not even poignant images of Johnson’s Pebble Beach triple-bogey meltdown on No. 2 at the 2010 U.S Open, or the eraser marks on Johnson’s 2010 PGA Championship scorecard on No. 18 at Whistling Straits can change that. Johnson’s seventh career Tour win certainly speaks volumes about what he’s accomplished to this point.

In four career attempts carrying the lead into a final round, Johnson had now won twice. He’s also finished in the top 15 of the FedExCup standings in each of the last four years, and inside the top 10 in each of the last three seasons on Tour. But what might be most telling about Johnson’s Hawaiian victory (16-under, 203) in the 2013 season opener, is where Johnson goes from here, and why.

Dustin Johnson 2013 Hyundai Tournament Of Champions TheGreekGrind Pappas 5

Dipped In Teflon

If you believe Johnson, he never got rattled at the 2010 U.S. Open, and never lost his composure. Whether he’s telling the truth or not? Maybe only Johnson knows for sure. But to his credit, Johnson managed to regroup and win the BMW Championship later that year. And he’s developed a reputation since for routinely coming back from disastrous situations. At the very least, Johnson is uncommonly resilient.

Johnson’s agent David Winkle says Johnson was “dipped in Teflon at birth.” And that’s what explains how Johnson follows up major catastrophes with impressive triumphs. Johnson’s coach, Butch Harmon, likens Johnson to a duck whose back repels water. Analogies aside, you only need to look at the sequence of adventures yesterday on The Plantation Course, holes No. 12 and No. 13, to witness Johnson’s poise.

On No. 12, Johnson’s judgment was questioned when he pulled out driver, when the safe play would have been 3 iron off the tee. And after Johnson unceremoniously hooked his ball into bushes and tall grass behind a fairway bunker, hushed whispers of another potential Johnson meltdown trickled through the crowd.

Johnson tried unsuccessfully to punch it out of the vegetation, and required a third shot to finally get out of trouble. But when all was said and done, Johnson took a double-bogey, and saw his lead over Stricker shrink to just one stroke with six holes to play.

Dustin Johnson 2013 Hyundai Tournament Of Champions TheGreekGrind Pappas 3

Live By The Driver, Die By The Driver

One of the biggest complaints about Johnson’s game has always been his decision making. Critics say they can live with errant shots off the tee when Johnson uses driver for holes that call for driver. But when holes call for another club off the tee, and Johnson elects driver anyway, finding unnecessary hazards or worse? That’s when Johnson’s decision making, judgment, and even maturity are called into question.

After Johnson hit what might have been his worst drive of the tournament on No. 13, everyone on Kapalua Island was expecting Johnson to hit iron on the drivable par-4 14th. But instead, Johnson again pulled out his driver.

“I’ve done it enough times that it doesn’t really bother me anymore,” Johnson said after the round. “I’ve been in this situation enough now and I’ve made enough double-bogeys in my life.”

That’s the fearlessness Johnson plays with. That’s the confidence Johnson has in his driver. That’s the resliency Johnson commands to bounce back from disaster. And that’s also why we love to watch Johnson play. Though Johnson’s critics say that’s the foolish part of the game that will keep failing him when the pressure is higher at major championships.

But on this blustery Hawaiin Monday in January, with the tournament on the line, Johnson ripped his drive down the middle of the fairway, only 50 feet from the pin. And when he fired in an eagle chip to go back up three strokes, Johnson showed his detractors he’s always going to trust the club that defines him.

“The chip on 14 was definitely the biggest shot,” Johnson said. “Maybe the drive, the drive set it up all.”

Dustin Johnson 2013 Hyundai Tournament Of Champions TheGreekGrind Pappas 2

Worth The Wait

The question now remains — can Johnson parlay this Pacific swell of momentum to start the season into his first major championship victory?

“I don’t really look ahead that far,” Johnson said. “I kind of go week-to-week. I’m looking at next week where I want to go in and play three good rounds and then contend on Sunday for another victory. That’s my goal.”

Until Johnson wins a major, fairly or not, he won’t be able to escape being known for his 2010 major meltdowns. But shots Johnson wished he could have made in 2010, he can make today. And Johnson’s worked diligently with Harmon to become a better short game player than he was in 2010.

Johnson’s still about power, but his arsenal now also includes finesse. Johnson’s simply in a better place to win a major in 2013 than he was in 2010. And in that regard, maybe most importantly, Johnson seems to understand that you need to experience past failures before you can move on to present and future successes. Rory needed them. Even Tiger and Jack needed them.

“Most of the guys out here, especially a lot of good players, they’ve all gone through the same thing,” Johnson said. “They’ve all done it. It’s a learning process that I think everybody is going to go through at least once in their career. So you can’t look at it as a bad thing.”

Johnson’s never been healthier, stronger, or more dedicated than he is this season. He played six rounds at The Plantation Course to prepare for the event. And Johnson knows good things are on the horizon.

“If I keep playing golf like I’m playing right now, then obviously there is no limit,” Johnson said.

With experience and resiliency also on his side in 2013, and that storied power still locked and loaded, Johnson expects to once and for all remove himself this season from discussions about the best player on Tour yet to win a major.

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Pete is a journalist, commentator, and interviewer covering the PGA Tour, new equipment releases, and the latest golf fashions. Pete's also a radio and television personality who's appeared multiple times on ESPN radio, and Fox Sports All Bets Are Off. And when he's not running down a story, he's at the range working on his game. Above all else, Pete's the proud son of a courageous mom who battled pancreatic cancer much longer than anyone expected. You can follow Pete on twitter @PGAPappas



  1. Lawrence Williams

    Jan 17, 2013 at 12:35 pm

    Great job Pete!

  2. Rick Rappaport

    Jan 16, 2013 at 11:26 am

    A fine job Mr. Pappas! It’s refreshing to see an article like this because it shakes up the media created
    impression that these pga pros are one dimensional—this guy is a bomber, this guy is a putter, this guy
    is a greens in reg..and so on.

    This article is a reality check. Players do not get to this level with one dimension otherwise Jamie Sadlowski
    the long drive phenom would be here and along with gazillions of other one dimensional phenoms. Sure it helps when you drive 325 yards and you have a wedge into a stout 450 par 4, but you also have to hit it straight and putt well too. And, if you miss the green you have to have that game too.

    So it’s good for Mr. Pappas to gently nudge our collective heads in the direction of what it really takes to rise to the top of this most honorable and difficult profession.

  3. Victor

    Jan 9, 2013 at 1:36 pm

    Johnson will never be taken seriously until he wins a major. Sweet drives though and fun to watch, but I don’t think he’s going win one this year. Plus consistency means finishing atop the leader board week in week out, not just wins. Great article though. Definitely gets me siked for 2013.

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GolfWRX Forum Member dpb5031 talks about the TaylorMade Twist Face Experience



Forum member dpb5031 (aka Dewey) joins TG2 to talk about his Twist Face Experience at The Kingdom. Recently, him and 6 other GolfWRX Members went to TaylorMade HQ to get fit for new M3 and M4 drivers. Does Twist Face work? Dewey provides his answer.

Listen to the podcast on SoundCloud below, or click here to listen on iTunes!

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Opinion & Analysis

Inside the Ropes: 5 things you didn’t know about playing on the PGA Tour



Golf finds a way to take a hold on you… whether you become entranced by the skill of the world’s best professionals, fall in love with the feeling and beauty of a well-executed shot, or simply enjoy getting outside and having fun — the game is addictive.

I started playing at the age of 4 and began watching the pros on TV dreaming what it would be like to play golf on the PGA Tour. When I earned my PGA Tour status for the 2014 season, that dream became a reality. And like anything, it’s not until I actually experienced that life did I have any idea what it entailed.

For those of you who are curious what it’s like to be on the PGA Tour, here are 5 things to describe it.

1) The Culture

Traveling the world to various cities can be fun, and it’s an underrated part of the Tour lifestyle; you get to see new landscapes and taste the cuisines that define different regions across the country and the world. Unlike some other professional sports, where players stay in one place for maybe a night or two, we get to stay in places for a week or more, which allows for plenty of time away from the course to see the sights and get a feel for what the cities and their cultures offer.

2) The Show

The setup and time that goes into planning an event — the grandstands, concession stands, volunteers, and the whole network that makes these tournaments run — is beyond impressive. We see the finished product at the event in the epicenter of it all, but the planning goes on behind the scenes all year. When it’s game time and the golf ball gets teed up, it’s time for us players to block all of that out, but we certainly appreciate all of the hard work that goes into putting on an event. It may feel like being in a circus at times, but performing in the show is a thrill.

3) The People

The game of golf in general brings people together, but especially so on the Tour. Thousands and thousands of fans come to watch the golf action and enjoy the festivities. The Pro-Ams are a great way for the fans to get an up-close look at what goes on at a Tour event, and they’re also a great way for us pros to interact with fans and maybe provide some helpful swing tips, too. In my opinion, one of the best events of the year is the Pebble Beach Pro-Am — a gathering of pro golfers, athletes, musicians, actors and other celebrities. It’s a testament to how the game can bring people together from different walks of life.

4) Inside the Ropes

The Tour is almost like a private school of sorts. It’s a select group of a couple hundred guys traveling around playing these events. The jocks, the nerds, the geeks, the loners; you see a little of everything. As much as there’s a sociable aspect to traveling on Tour and getting to know these people, it’s a dog-eat-dog world where everyone is playing for their livelihood and playing privileges.

5) The “Pressure”

A season-long race can come down to a single shot making the difference — for some it’s between winning and losing a tournament, and others it’s between keeping and losing your card. The cameras, the grandstands, the noise… it can all be quite distracting. The idea is to block all of that out and pretend you’re playing like a kid, focusing with pure imagination for the shot. All the extra attention can help heighten the focus further, adding inspiration to “give the people what they want” and hit even better golf shots.

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Ping Engineer Paul Wood explains how the G400 Max driver is so forgiving



Paul Wood, VP of Engineering at Ping, joins our 19th Hole to discuss the new G400 Max driver, which the company calls the “straightest driver ever.” Also, listen for a special discount code on a new laser rangefinder.

Listen to this episode on SoundCloud below, or click here to listen on iTunes.

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19th Hole