Armchair Golf Pro: Dustin Johnson, Cog Hill, Confident Golf

Dustin Johnson practicing putting during a pra...

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What would you do if you were kicked in the teeth and punched in the gut, after having shot yourself in the foot? If you’re Dustin Johnson you dust yourself off and go win a big golf tournament. That win at the BMW Championship put him in second place in the FedEx Cup standings, with a legitimate shot at the $10 million dollar first prize.

My respect for this young man took a huge step up this week. After his implosion at the US Open at Pebble Beach and then the bunker issue at Whistling Straits that cost him a shot at the playoffs, he could just as easily disappeared from the planet. Most golfers would.

But Johnson chose to learn from his mistakes, rather than dwell on them. Perhaps he even used them as a catalyst to improve his mental toughness. And that’s a great lesson from the arm chair right there.

You know you are going to have bad holes and bad rounds. How you deal with them is your choice. You can choose to take something positive out of every experience and get better next time, or you can mope and cry. The important thing to remember is that the way you interpret things really is your choice.

It’s called your “explanatory” style. It’s the way you explain things to yourself, and it has a huge impact on your ability to improve your golf game. If you hone the ability to look at every situation as a learning opportunity you will improve your golf game. Period. If you cast blame elsewhere, look for excuses, or just bemoan your fate, improving will always be a struggle.

The Armchair Golf Pro’s favorite moment was the 17th hole. Johnson pulled out a driver on a narrow dog leg right. He had to fly it over trees to a narrow landing area, and the TV analysts immediately started questioning his strategy. Somewhere along the way the analysts lost their huevos and they couldn’t conceive of themselves in that situation hitting driver.

But in pressure situations you want the club that gives you the most confidence. The driver is Johnson’s favorite club. He hits it a mile and he’s darned accurate with it. He hit it perfectly and left himself with a short wedge shot, which he stuck 3 feet. He made the birdie and that was the winning margin.