Introductory Note: FYI — I do not even think about playing golf. I was a caddy in my teen years. That might explain — don’t know. Nevertheless, I try to constantly expand the breadth of potentially useful reading materials. When I see a headline, such as . . . .
This sneaky smart story from Dustin Johnson’s Masters’ win shows how he’s evolved as a golfer.
. . . . I try to understand enough about this-or-that topic to make it illustratively useful.
I realize that there are those who will be drawn into the illustration because it is an area or topic they personally enjoy. That is not me, but if I only stay in my lane of interest, the illustrations I will use and/or develop will not only be narrowly conceived and developed but primarily wrought from my existent and persistent theological vantages. When you get out of those existent and persistent theological vantages, valuable and fresh thoughts about this-or-that area of biblical truth happens. It helps you think about and understand theological truths and passages differently.
“Sneaky smart story” and “evolved as a golfer” initially caught my attention. No, “evolved” doesn’t mean that I agree with biological evolution, but it does mean that people learn, change, grow, develop, and evolve! That is true in the Christian walk as well — “So, this may work!”
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Who: Dustin Johnson
“Dustin Hunter Johnson is an American professional golfer who plays on the PGA Tour. He has won two major championships, the 2016 U.S. Open at Oakmont Country Club with a 4-under-par score of 276 and the 2020 Masters Tournament with a record score of 268, 20-under-par.”
When & Where: A casual round of golf before the 2020 Master’s tournament
“a partly cloudy Sunday in mid-November . . . . during a casual round at Augusta National Golf Club with chairman Fred Ridley, Dustin’s brother, Austin . . . [involving] a simple 6-iron layup on the par-5 13th hole.”
What: Dustin Johnson made a simple 6-iron shot on the 13th hole, but . . . .
#1 – “This particular shot . . . .would not have provoked roars had spectators been in attendance. Perhaps a few head scratches, but certainly not roars. . . . . “
“A chopped-off 6-iron” 
“After teeing off with his 3-wood on the sharp, sloping dogleg left hole, Johnson casually flushed a chopped-off 6-iron from a sidehill lie in the middle of the fairway that was purposely conservative, never rising above waist high. “Just a little running 6-iron for the layup, just to keep it on the ground,” was how Dustin described the shot in his winner’s press conference.”
#2 – Instead of using a 4 iron, which would have been the typical decision, he used a chopped-off 6 iron, for two reasons.
The choice of shot served two purposes. First, it kept him out of trouble and potentially a grave mistake. “We had a perfect yardage, maybe 240, a perfect 4-iron, but there was mud on the left side of the ball,” Austin said. “That means it’s going to go right, so if we go for the green, we put the water [Rae’s Creek] in play.”
Second, the play at the tail end of Amen Corner made his third shot easier. “There, I cleaned it for you,” Dustin said to his brother as he handed him the club while walking up the fairway.
He wanted it on the ground quickly so the wet turf would clean the ball. Which meant Johnson would have better control of his next stroke, a lob wedge he smoothed to 15 feet, followed by a low, half fist pump when his putt found the heart of the cup for a birdie.
“It was genius,” Austin said.
“It was one of the coolest things he’s ever done.”
“Dustin’s golf IQ, some of the things he does on the golf course, some of the things he sees, people don’t understand just how well he thinks around a golf course. I’ve known for a long time,” said his manager, David Winkle, who was an outstanding junior player in Texas. “I’ve played golf nearly all of my life, and I’d never heard of that or thought of that. In that moment, under that kind of pressure, to have the clarity of mind to think that way, it’s pretty telling.”
“Obviously, golf is very mental,” Johnson said. “I think a lot of it is in your head, so with golf and when I’m playing well, yeah, you’re thinking very clearly and you’re making good decisions. But golf is a funny game. So I don’t know how to explain the mental part of it.
“I know my mental game’s pretty strong, but I guess it’s all natural ability. And then I’ve learned a lot of it, too, just through college, playing experiences, whatever it might be, books. Kind of just taking everything I’ve learned along the way, and I tried to make it into my own.”
√ Take time to read the article and pull out any other material you may find useful.
√ Avoid the danger of getting too deep into the game of golf with the audience — especially if you are a lover of the game. Many in the audience may well be as unfamiliar or initially disinterested as me (sorry). If you are speaking at a golf outing ministry, getting into the story and details might really work!
√ Keep the background materials basic, simple, and short!
√ Highlight some of the keys words and phrases that you can then “pull-down into the illustration.”
Key Biblical Thoughts:
- change / changing
- learning / growing
- natural ability
- mind / mental
- making things easier / harder
- clean / cleaner
. . . . . . .
An Example: Let’s give it a try . . . .
I’m not a golfer, but I began reading this account relating to Dustin Johnson. He is a pro-golfer who has won 24 PGA tournaments and just won the 2020 Masters. The headline of the article, that caught my attention, read . . . .
This sneaky smart story from Dustin Johnson’s Masters’ win shows how he’s evolved as a golfer.
Fred Ridley – chairman of the Masters — and Austin, Dustin’s brother, were causally golfing. Austin was so taken back by how Dustin played this game, days before that 2020 Masters’ win, that he told the story over and over to whoever would listen.
The story revolved around a decision by Dustin who “flushed a chopped-off 6-iron,” designed to keep the ball low and running on the ground longer. Instead of using a 4-iron, which is what is typically used for such a shot to the green. Why? Because, as Austin states, it accomplished a valuable purpose in regards to the shot which would then follow — the ball would run on the green longer and clean off the excess mud which was on the ball. If that mud were not adequately cleaned off, it would pull further right and put the creek that was on the right side, into possible play.
After realizing what Dustin was doing by hitting the ball with a chopped-off 6-iron, Austin said — It was one of the coolest things that he has seen Dustin ever do. He called it “GENIUS!” Fred Ridley just shook his head in wonderment.
Why? — Because few golfers are so marked by the ability to think through the various implications of each and every shot. As the article states . . . .
“some of the things he does on the golf course, some of the things he sees, people don’t understand just how well he thinks around a golf course.”
To be as effective in golf, as Johnson is, is to see things that others don’t see or even understand. As the article states . . . .
“In that moment, under that kind of pressure, to have the clarity of mind to think that way, it’s pretty telling.”
Johnson said . . . .
“golf is very mental . . . . I think a lot of it is in your head . . . . when I’m playing well [!’m] thinking very clearly and you’re making good decisions.”
Can I assure you that the Christian life is very mental. It takes a lot of mind and head work — It is a renewing of your mind kind of work! If you are walking well, you are thinking clearly and making good decisions — especially when the pressure is on and there are temptations that can and do short-circuit the mind. In that moment and under pressure you need clarity of mind. You need to be able to look ahead to the next shot!
I have, and you probably have as well, witnessed good and godly people who have a solid mental grasp of Christian truths and living. You have seen those who are marked by the ability to see things others don’t see and understand. As you watch them walk, you are amazed in their clarity of thought. While making a decision, no one watching will “roar” with approval, but at the end some will see how thoughtful it was!
You have probably witnessed those who have also failed at that and keep making bad decisions.
If you are going to grow and develop as a follower of Christ, you need to think! You need to think ahead beyond what one typically does on this-or-that part of the course, from this distance. . . . .
The Scriptures are littered with examples of those who did, along with those who did think through the implications, those who did, and those who did not see where this decision would land them, how it would affect their next shot. . . . . . . . . . . .
1. I had to learn a little about golf and golf clubs to understand this.
“After teeing off with his 3-wood on the sharp, sloping dogleg left hole, Johnson casually flushed a chopped-off 6-iron from a sidehill lie in the middle of the fairway”
In the end, I was not sure whether Johnson was using a “chopped-off 6-iron,” or the term refers to the action taken in addressing the ball and described as “chopped-off.” It is not critical to the use of the illustration.
“lush(“flushing it” also “pure, puring it”) perfect feeling contact, right on the sweetspot – solid, square and right on target
Example: Ernesto absolutely flushed/pured his long iron approach shot into the 18th green, leaving himself a 10-footer for eagle.”
Golfers, feel free to help me out if you want.
Shortened Irons: https://www.liveabout.com/cut-down-shafts-how-to-1563321