Butch Harmon: Improving these 2 things made Dustin Johnson ‘better than anyone else’

dustin johnson reads putt

Dustin Johnson has become the best player in golf over the past five years.

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Dustin Johnson has always been a capable player, but in the past five years, he’s become one of the most feared golfers on the planet. While Johnson earned a reputation for underperformance early in his career, those naysayers are few and far between now that he’s become the top player in the game.

Johnson has won 15 times over the past five years, including two major championships. He’s also won four World Golf Championships, been voted PGA Tour Player of the Year twice, and won the FedEx Cup in 2020. Oh, and he’s become the No. 1-ranked player in the world and opened up huge separation between him and everyone else.

All of these accolades are impressive and have made him a lock for the Hall of Fame, but what’s even more impressive is how he took his game to the next level. And as his coach Butch Harmon explained on a recent episode of Barstool’s Fore Play podcast, that transformation can be credited to Johnson’s commitment to improving his wedge game — specifically though using a Trackman launch monitor.

Under Harmon’s direction, Johnson went to work charting each and every wedge he hit on the range. For someone who hits wedges as much as Johnson does, it’s important to know those yardages down to the decimal place, which is knowledge Johnson didn’t have. But once the Trackman got involved, he started seeing changes in his short game.

“He got it down to a science,” Harmon said. “He knew that if he took it to here and hit it with a speed, or adds more speed to do this or that, and he became a great wedge player … That and fading the ball off the tee is what made him better than anyone else.”

That scientific approach to his wedge play doesn’t just happen during practice, either. Johnson will dial in his wedges before every round on the range, using the Trackman to get every number precise. Because of this, Johnson has one of the longest warmup routines on Tour, but it sure seems to pay off.

Another element of Johnson’s transformation to becoming the most dominant figure in golf is an improvement of his mental game. The younger version of Johnson would go bombs away on every tee box, but now he knows when to lay back and allow his world-class wedge game do the scoring.

“He’s a genius on the golf course,” Harmon said.

Harmon pointed to the final round of the 2020 Masters as an example of Johnson’s maturation as a player. Instead of trying to overpower the course, he laid back and played in control throughout the round. By day’s ends, he was slipping on the green jacket.

Golf.com Editor

Zephyr Melton is an assistant editor for GOLF.com where he spends his days blogging, producing and editing. Prior to joining the team at GOLF.com, he attended the University of Texas followed by stops with Team USA, the Green Bay Packers and the PGA Tour. He assists on all things instruction and covers amateur and women’s golf.