A Lesson Learned: Turn bad days into big wins

Dustin Johnson
Photo: Getty Images
Dustin Johnson showed great patience and perseverance, traits enhanced by earlier trials this year, to win the 2010 BMW Championship.
Kevin Weeks, PGA

Problem Area: Fundamentals
Series: Lesson Learned

Published: Monday, September 13, 2010 | 10:50 a.m.

In what has to be one of the most popular wins on the PGA Tour this year, Dustin Johnson won his second event of the year and the Ryder Cup team member is now on the short list for "Player of the Year" honors. Congratulations Dustin on an outstanding week and a job well done.

As I watched the tournament unfold, I – like everyone else – could not help but be impressed with the resiliency of Dustin Johnson. It’s not just that he continues to put himself into contention each week, but it’s even from day to day and from hole to hole, he just doesn’t have any "give up’ in him. I’m not sure how many golfers could have come back from his disastrous 82 in the final round of the U.S. Open, or the heartbreak he endured at the PGA Championship and that 18th hole bunker ruling, but once again, there he was in the final group at the BMW Championship here at Cog Hill. And then, when it looked like his week would not pan out on Saturday, he reels off five straight birdies to put himself right back into the tournament.

So what can you learn from Dustin’s year and this week’s tournament? Well, let Dustin tell you himself.

"To finally get it done, especially after all the things I've gone through this summer ... it can't feel any better." So did those "things", help or hurt Dustin? Well according to Dustin, he learned from each of those events. After Pebble Beach, he told me he had gotten too fast. "I really learned to be patient and not rush things," he said of his lesson from the U.S. Open. And how did that help him this past week? "I didn't rush any shot today. You know, I took my time, took practice swings, even when I felt myself trying to rush a little bit, but I would stop, put my club back in the bag and come back and go through my routine and just take things slow."

And what did he learn from Whistling Straits? Well, obviously, by his play alone, he learned he could be clutch in the final round of the biggest tournaments. His birdies on 16 and 17 at Whistling Straits were what put him in position to win on the final hole. And this week?

"Any time you can come out and be in the last group on Sunday, come out and shoot a good round and win a golf tournament, I mean, it doesn't get any better than that, you know, especially for the confidence. I mean, I always have confidence. I always believe in myself, and that's a big part of getting it done."

Just like every golfer, Dustin has good and bad days, good and bad tournaments. But unlike many golfers, Dustin always tries to learn from every round – good or bad. There is no such thing as a "wasted" day or shot for him. And his ability to overcome past disappointments are such a testament to his confidence, his mental strength and of course, his talent.

So that’s the lesson I’m going to take from this week and apply it to my students and even myself. Every day on the golf course is an opportunity to learn, even the bad days. Maybe especially the bad days. And with the right attitude and work ethic, you’ll benefit and bounce back in ways you may not have ever imagined. Just ask this week’s champion here at Cog Hill Golf Club. Congrats again Dustin.

Kevin Weeks is the Director of Instruction at Cog Hill Golf Club, host site of the 2010 BMW Championship. Weeks is a three-time Illinois Section Teacher of the Year as well as a valued friend and instructor to several players on the PGA Tour.

Try this ...