Dustin Johnson spent some of his downtime during the 2013 Open Championship at Muirfield unleashing drives from a garden in Gullane nearly 300 yards into surrounding potato fields – with a hickory club.
The unlikely scenario was revealed by Sandy Lyle as the Scot took a giant stride towards winning the World Hickory Open title for the second time in three years after opening up a seven-shot halfway lead following a three-under-par 67 at Panmure, scene of his 2014 victory.
“Distance-wise with the modern ball, if you can time it right, you can get it out there with a good whack,” said the 58-year-old Scot in painting a picture of hickory golf. “It’s not like you are getting it 210 when you are flat out with a driver, as everyone seems to think.
“I can probably get it close to 300 yards in the right conditions and, when Bernhard Langer had a go with my hickory driver just after I first got it three years ago, out of curiosity he wanted to see how far it was going compared to his own one. He hit six or seven in the end, all with a nice flight, and he was only down about 10 per cent in terms of distance, and that was on a Trackman.
“Dustin Johnson, pictured, also hit that driver when we were goofing around at a house where we were staying at in Gullane for the 2013 Open. We were hitting balls on the lawn out into potato fields and he said, ‘I’ve not hit one of these’. I said to him, ‘give it what you can and don’t worry if it breaks’ and he whacked it out there. We didn’t see where it landed, but I could tell from the trajectory that it was going out at least 280 yards.”
Lyle has not just turned up in Carnoustie Country with his trusty Tad Moore hickory set but is also appropriately attired on this occasion. “I didn’t dress up the last time as it was kind of a last-minute thing then,” he said. “I felt out of place in terms of the clothing on that occasion. When you arrive on the putting green and they are all there with their plus four, tweeds and little golf bags, it’s a time warp and it feels nice to get into the theme of things wearing the clothing this time.”