February 26, 2019
By Andrew Tursky, PGATOUR.COM
- Dustin Johnson won the 2019 WGC-Mexico Championship with a TaylorMade M5 driver. (Keyur Khamar/PGA TOUR)
When it comes to TaylorMade driver models, Dustin Johnson just can’t make up his mind. Johnson, one of the best drivers of the golf ball in the world, notched two worldwide victories in February… each with a different driver. He won the Saudi International with an M6 driver, and just weeks later, he notched a win at the WGC-Mexico Championship with an M5 driver.
As history shows, however, the flip-flopping act is nothing new.
TaylorMade’s M-series drivers have always offered two different versions within a release: a weight-adjustable version (M1 2016, M1 2017, M3 and M5), and a non-weight-adjustable counterpart (M2 2016, M2 2017, M4 and M6). Since the release of the M-series drivers, Johnson has made use of both versions, switching back-and-forth seemingly on a whim.
Johnson started using an M1 driver in 2015. Then he switched into a M2 2016 driver in the early stages of 2016, before switching back into an M1 2016 to win the U.S. Open at Oakmont. In 2017, he won multiple events using an M1 2017 driver. In 2018, he won multiple events using an M4 driver after using an M3 earlier in the year.
Flash forward to 2019, and he won two events in the same month with different drivers. Why does Johnson continue to switch between a CG (center of gravity) adjustable head and a non-CG-adjustable head? What is going on here?
Typically, Johnson has always equipped his TaylorMade drivers with a Fujikura Speeder 661 Evolution 2.0 Tour X-Flex shaft, so the only variable is the head. And, as TaylorMade’s PGA TOUR Manager Todd Chew told PGATOUR.COM, Johnson’s M5 and M6 drivers – while they have inherently different designs – are setup very similar in terms of weight, loft and face angle.
“He just really likes testing drivers and generally this is normal,” Chew told PGATOUR.COM. “By the U.S. Open, he’ll pick one and stick with it, but it’s pretty much the same build over and over again… between M5 and M6 there’s nothing really spec wise or technical that would drive the change. We can set them both up to do the same thing, which for him is to hit that high cut. So there’s nothing in the specs of the heads that would dictate which one he would play.”
As is well-documented, Johnson switched from a draw to a fade off the tee in 2015 based on his work with swing coach Butch Harmon. Chew explains that Johnson’s driver switches are predicated around being able to hit the cut shot that Johnson wants to see.
“He wants to hit a cut and he wants it to have optimal launch conditions when it has that shape,” Chew said. “So he just makes sure he covers all the bases and tests to make sure he’s not missing anything… if he feels like he makes a good swing to hit a high cut, and it doesn’t do exactly that, then he wants to test a new driver. Again, they’re very similar builds every time, maybe a tweak here or there with weight or loft or face angle or whatever, but the truth is he has a good M5 and a good M6. It just kind of depends on what he feels like that week or day.”
While some golfers may think the constant change could be a disadvantage or distraction, Chew says that Johnson has no problem making last-minute switches, and he wants to assure his advantage over the field with the driver.
“He knows [driving is] his advantage and he wants to make sure he’s getting everything he can out of it,” Chew said. “He’s confident to where he’s not afraid to put a new one in the day before a tournament at all, which most guys wouldn’t do.”
Also, at the end of the day, Johnson simply just likes to test drivers.
“He just likes to do it,” Chew said. “Some guys hate to do it. Some guys find one that works and they stop messing around… it’s just out of curiosity and the enjoyment of doing it.”
So even though Johnson just won the WGC-Mexico Championship by five strokes with an M5 driver, “he could show up next week with the M6 again, you just never know,” Chew said.
Yes, Johnson is unpredictable when it comes to his TaylorMade M-series driver model. But for him – Johnson now has 20 PGA TOUR victories -- it’s fun and it seems to work. Check out Dustin Johnson's winner's bag from WGC-Mexico Championship.