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The Loop

How He Hit That: Dustin Johnson's identical irons

March 09, 2015

Dustin Johnson's winning margin over J.B. Holmes at the WGC Cadillac Championship was one shot. He earned that margin (and more) from two swings of his 7-iron on Doral's par-3 4th hole.

On Saturday, both he and Holmes aced the hole from 207 yards. Then, on Sunday Johnson hit another laser from 202 yards that nearly holed out -- this time ending up a foot away. He tapped in for birdie and pulled within three of Holmes, his playing partner and third-round co-leader, who started with a five-shot lead but ended up shooting 75.

"Yes, Dustin Johnson is a freak who can hit it longer and straighter than almost anybody, but you can learn something there that doesn't have anything to do with his swing," says Golf Digest Best Young Teacher Jason Guss. "He had the same exact wind direction for both shots, and the pin on Sunday was 10 yards left of where it was the day before. He already had a great visual of the shot he was going to hit. He teed it up on the very left side of the tee box instead of the middle, visualized the same shot, and made the same swing."

Visualization isn't some squishy new age theory. It's a real skill that can help players at any level, says Guss. "It's an especially important one to have if you play the same course a lot," says Guss, who is based at the Jason Guss Golf Academy at Hawk Hollow in Bath Township, MI. "When you have a certain shot, go back into your memory banks and replay in your mind another good one you hit there in the same situation. You're priming your mind to do it again."