Dustin Johnson is without doubt one of the most athletic and powerful players in the world today. Dustin ranks number one in driving distance on the PGA Tour averaging 319 yards, eight yards longer than his nearest rival Jason Day. Despite knowing these facts and figures about Dustin I simply could not comprehend how long or powerful he really was until I watched him for the Monday/Tuesday practice rounds at the British open. During the Tuesday practice round four members of the Harmon stable (Dustin, Rickie, Phil & Jimmy) were enjoying a friendly 4 ball match to prepare for Thursdays main event. They came to the 14th tee, a long par five which splits in two as you approach the green; one side designed to lay up to the green, the other designed for the more aggressive play. We watched as Fowler stood on the tee first and flushed his tee shot down the middle with a small right to left movement on the golf ball. Dustin who was the next on the tee let loose and cannoned his ball 20 yards past Rickie’s ball in the air plus an additional 50 yards or so of run. It was simply amazing to see Dustin looking 70 yards back as he awaited the 8th best player in the world to hit his second shot.
As we look at Dustin’s set up you can immediately see how strong and athletic he is from the get go. From down the line he looks tall and balanced and everything looks to be lined up nicely. On the right hand side you can see he has a strong left hand grip of the club which we tend to see a lot of with the more powerful players on tour. Again he looks very evenly balanced when you look at him from face on and you can see he has his spine angled slightly to the right in set up. This right side bend is again something you will see commonly with the best drivers of the ball such as Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods circa 2000. Dustin has a slightly unusual move off the ball as he forward presses his hands and picks the club up sharply off the ground to begin his golf swing. This action closes the face slightly at the beginning of the swing and is something we will see throughout Johnson’s movement.
As DJ begins to take the club back you will see he sets the club nicely in front of his hands and just above the plane line. You will see from the face on view on the right, he has created a significant amount of angle between his lead arm and the club. This helps Dustin support the club and is the starting point of his exceptionally powerful shoulder turn in the backswing. I like that he has allowed his head to shift slightly away from where it started, this allows him to load his weight into the right foot and create a lot of torque as he gets to the top of the swing. As we mentioned earlier if we look at the club face in both images you will notice it is pointing down towards the ground or what most people would regard as a “closed” position.