A golf pro walks into a bar. Well, not just any golf pro—Beef Johnston, this summer's juggernaut who's ranked 86th in the world, made three out of three cuts in America, finished eighth in the Open at Troon and won the Spanish Open on the European Tour. He's wearing a Pittsburgh Pirates flat-brim cap and a Wu-Tang hip-hop T-shirt. He's talking to everybody, and everybody wants to talk to him.
We're there to video Beef giving lessons in a London pub. It'll get almost 300,000 views on Golf Digest's Facebook Live.
What's your best advice for 10 more yards, Beef?
Stand a bit wider, give yourself a good balance, make a big turn and give it a rip. Really pummel it out there.
Earlier in the day, he posed for our cover story. "He clambered into the studio like he's arrived everywhere else the last few months," says Senior Writer Guy Yocom. "Incredulous that so much fanfare is being directed at a middle-class kid from north London. He's like Dorothy in 'The Wizard of Oz' opening the door into a world of color, new friends everywhere, first-time experiences around every corner. He's up for all of it.
"As folk heroes go, he's John Daly without the baggage, Boo Weekley without the reticence, Sam Snead minus the edge. There's no guile, no sense of calculation. The beard, the nickname, his love of Beavertown ales were accidents. He's answering the call by the seat of his pants and with more bouncy energy than a 16-stone [224 pounds], 5-foot-11 body would seem to possess."
Along with the Jordans and Rickies, Beef represents the golfer that's so important to the sport's growth today. Golfers born in the 1980s and '90s play nearly 100 million rounds per year in the U.S. and account for 28 percent of all players, according to the World Golf Foundation. Golf Digest's coverage of this new culture, especially on Golfdigest.com, has attracted an audience that's markedly younger—27 percent of our digital users are now millennial, about 10 percent higher than the other major golf sites. Our goal is to attract more young people to sustain golf's future.
Hey, Beef, how do you cure the chipping yips?
Take the wrist out of it. You can break your wrists going back, but then just turn through. Always work on the strike. Sometimes you're better off not thinking about the target—think about the strike.
Senior Staff Photographer Dom Furore shot him in a studio loft, in a portal overlooking Tower Bridge, and inside a London taxi cab. Somebody asks if Adele lives in the neighborhood. "I don't know; let's find out," Beef says, rolling down the window and shouting to a bloke on the street: "Pardon me, but does Adele live nearby?" The man inanely replies, "Adele can live anywhere she wants." Beef laughs uproariously. "Brilliant!" he says.
How do you get out of a bunker, Beef?
Don't be afraid to open the face. The more you open the face, the more the club's bounce will help you. Hit the sand and turn through.
He has that toothy smile and a belly laugh that knocks him off balance. A barmaid is pulling one draft after another behind him. Patrons come up to get an autograph. Pints are emptied at an astonishing rate. He turns no one away.
After the eight-hour shoot, Beef takes Director of Photography & Video Christian Iooss and crew to his favorite BBQ joint in London, HotBox, where he rhymes to the '90s hip-hop on the sound system.
Now he's back in Europe after setting a record for selfies with fans on the PGA Tour.
We like him. He's a smart young man of 27 who hopes to play about four events early next year in the U.S., and wouldn't it be fun if he qualified for the Masters?
Golf could use more Beef.
MY TOP-FIVE THINGS I LOVE ABOUT FALL GOLF IN THE NORTHEAST
1. Brisk weather
Fewer players, and it's exhilarating playing in a sweater and shorts.
2. Perfect conditions
Everything's faster in the fall, including pace of play and green speeds.
3. The Anderson Leaf Rule
Named for the Pulitzer Prize-winning sportswriter Dave Anderson, allowing a free drop for a ball lost in leaves—with the caveat that you can tie but not win the hole.
4. Fun and cheaper
You get deals in the golf shop, and there's always the possibility of a cross-country hole.
5. Chili at the turn
Nothing tastes better, and every day of play, especially into November, leaves you with the feeling that you stole one.