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Driver's Ed

Dustin Johnson Swing Analysis: How lagging your upper body can add more distance to your drives

In a new video series, David Leadbetter unpacks the secrets to tour player's swings

Throughout his career, Dustin Johnson has been among the longest hitters on the PGA Tour. For a closer look at DJ’s keys to distance, we turn to legendary golf instructor David Leadbetter in the latest episode of Driver’s Ed.

Watch the video below to learn the secret behind Johnson’s dominating drives.

A quick glimpse of Johnson’s swing brings into focus his famous wrist action as well as the upper body move that creates most of his speed, power and consistency. Leadbetter describes the 2020 Masters champion’s swing as unique and idiosyncratic.

“I suppose more than anything, he’s known for his bowed left wrist. But I remember seeing Johnson’s swing when he was 15 and he had it, so I'm sure he’s had it all his golfing life,” Leadbetter says. “That’s not something that he’s worked on in the last few years.”

Leadbetter’s analysis starts with a focus on Johnson’s hand placement. “We see a pretty strong right-hand grip in particular,” he says.

From here, Leadbetter highlights Johnson’s trigger and takeaway. “It’s an interesting movement to start. It’s like the hands go forward, his body goes backward,” he explains. “Just a little trigger to get him going, and he gets the club off the ground as he does that.”

As for Johnson’s backswing, Leadbetter says he has good extension and width, but the key here is his rotation.

“Watch this rotation with his upper body. Huge, huge rotation and that stretch with those high hands,” Leadbetter says. “He’s just like a coil, getting ready to unleash.”

Similar to many average golfers, Leadbetter points out that Johnson has a closed clubface at the top of his swing. “Notice the clubface in between his elbows. I mean the clubface is pointing right up at the sky,” Leadbetter says.

However, unlike most golfers, Johnson’s incredible speed and power comes from his next move. “This change of direction is really what sorts the men out from the boys as far as power is concerned. We can see a huge wind up, but then the upper body lags behind as he changes direction,” Leadbetter says. “It almost creates a bigger differential between the shoulder turn and hip turn as he changes direction here.

“It’s interesting how he really clears and opens up,” Leadbetter continues. “One of the ways he keeps that face so square through the ball is that he actually retains his spine angle, very much like an iron shot.”

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As for his release, Leadbetter says to pay attention to where Johnson’s club finishes. “He really swings the handle left and he swings through,” Leadbetter explains. “We can see how he just drives the hands forward. Look at that clubface and how square that is through the ball.”

And according to Leadbetter, that’s what makes Johnson so dangerous off the tee. “Not only is DJ long, but he’s accurate as well. Long and straight, that’s a good combination. Getting that and his wedge play right has made him the world-class player that he is,” Leadbetter concludes.

One takeaway from Johnson’s swing that you can use in your own game is sequencing. By copying Johnson’s upper-body lag you can increase your speed and distance using power you already have.