Observe Dustin Johnson getting fit for his TaylorMade driver

Dustin Johnson Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Observe Dustin Johnson getting fit for his TaylorMade driver

Equipment

Observe Dustin Johnson getting fit for his TaylorMade driver

Dustin Johnson was the runaway winner Sunday at the PGA Tour’s first event of 2018, the winner’s-only Sentry Tournament of Champions in Hawaii. The world’s No. 1 player excelled in every area of the game, but it was his driving that garnered most of the attention – for good reason. Johnson finished the week with an 8.902 strokes gained: off-the-tee, which means he was almost nine shots better than the average player in the field based on his driving.

You can see a complete list of the clubs Johnson used to win the Sentry Tournament of Champions by clicking here.

TaylorMade said Johnson had planned to use a new M3 driver last week, but after hitting both the M3 and an M4 that was built for him to the same specifications on the range, Johnson opted to go with the M4. In windy conditions, he thought it created a lower, flatter ball flight that would better suit Hawaii’s windy conditions. He expects to put the M3 into play shortly.

In mid December, I had a chance to observe Johnson hitting drivers at a TaylorMade event in Carlsbad, Calif., and shot the video you can see below.

“We kind of know where Dustin needs to start for loft,” said Keith Sbarbaro, TaylorMade’s vice president of Tour operations. “So step one is to get the launch and spin correct.”

When you are fitting a player who generates clubhead speed of 123-125 mph, fractions of a degree in launch angle and small changes in spin rates can have a profound effect. Sbarbaro said Johnson’s ideal spin rate is between 2,000 and 2,300 rpm with a launch angle around 11.5 degrees.

TaylorMade M3 Driver

The 11-gram weights can go anywhere in the M3’s Y-shaped track. (David Dusek/Golfweek)

One of the most fascinating moments of the presentation came when Sbarbaro asked for Johnson’s driver so he could change the position of the adjustable weights and demonstrate how launch conditions changed. Johnson wanted no part of that and insisted Sbarbaro and TaylorMade find another club to tinker with during the demonstration.

“I’ve always been really particular about my clubs,” Johnson said. “Especially when I like one. The only thing I’ll ever do is put a wrench in and tighten the weights down, but they’re never going to move.”

After Johnson hit a 16.5-degree M4 fairway wood, which had a carry distance of 286 yards and a total distance of 305, Johnson and Sbarbaro talked about the gapping in Johnson’s set. The 2016 U.S. Open champion is now carrying a P790 3-iron that goes around 265 yards. That allowed Johnson to stop carrying his 5-wood and 2-iron (which Johnson used to swap depending on the course conditions) and add a fourth wedge, a new 64-degree TaylorMade Milled Grind Hi-Toe prototype.

“It wasn’t planned,” Johnson said, “but it worked out perfect.”

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