Dustin Johnson has way more unread text messages than you do.
That’s because the No. 1 golfer in the world’s phone, predictably, blew up like never before when he achieved his childhood dream in November. Winning the rescheduled Masters by five strokes, Johnson recorded the lowest score in the prestigious tournament’s history, gave an incredibly emotional victory speech, and was bombarded by over 500 texts.
“I still have over 400 that I haven’t gotten through,” says Johnson. “Honestly, I’ve got to get back to them. It’s impossible. I would say half of them I probably don’t even know.”
But when you break through and win the most revered of golf’s four majors—and the unique perks it rewards you with, including a coveted green jacket—everyone that ever had your number feels compelled to hit you up. Mixed in with all the congratulatory texts, we’re going to safely assume there were numerous questions about the aura and traditions of Augusta National Golf Club since Johnson is now an honorary member at the most famous golf course in the world.
We caught up with the adidas athlete to talk about his historic win last month, how different it’ll be returning to the club as winner/member, if he can still dunk a basketball at age 36, and what it’s like to play a round of golf with Michael Jordan.
(This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.)
How often have you put the green jacket on over the past month?
Not as many times as you would think. I’ll probably put it on a few more. Just a few times here and there. I look at it a good bit. I actually have it in my car right now.
Do you know what food you’ll be serving at the Champions’ Dinner at next year’s Masters?
I do not yet. That’s on the list of the things I need to figure out.
Have people been giving you suggestions about it?
They give me suggestions, but I’m not taking any.
You said that one of your favorite traditions at the Masters were the sandwiches, but now that you’re a champion do you think you’ll be changing your answer?
I would imagine so. I would say that it will probably change after this Masters coming up in April. What it’s going to be, I’m not sure yet. Obviously, another one of my favorite traditions is just the range. They only use it during Masters week. But it’s an incredible practice area they’ve built and just the guys on the range.
Now that you get access to August National like few people, what’s the most awesome aspect of being a member at the most vaunted golf club in the world?
One thing for sure, since I haven’t been back yet, but the Champions’ Locker Room. That’s something I’m really looking forward to experiencing.
You gave a very poignant speech after your victory. How many people reached out and offered up praise for the words you delivered?
Obviously, I’ve had a lot of great feedback and a lot of kind words from a lot of my peers and family and friends and everyone, so that’s been great. I was emotional just because it meant so much to me as a dream come true. As a kid growing up, on the putting greens, playing golf it was always [imagining winning] the Masters because I grew up so close to there. That’s kind of why I got emotional and sometimes still do when I talk about it.
You’ve always been considered one of the best athletes on the PGA Tour. Can you still dunk a basketball?
I can. I had knee surgery last fall, but the last time I was on the court, which wasn’t that long ago, I could dunk it. I’ve got a little bit of hops.
Who is the best athlete on the PGA Tour?
There’s quite a few guys that are good athletes out there. I think the game of golf you’re starting to see all the young kids coming up are athletes. They have the build, they’re bigger, they’re taller, they’re stronger. It’s just how the game of golf is evolving. At least 90 percent of the guys coming up are in better shape and everyone’s working out now. You see a lot more athletes playing the game of golf. There’s a handful of guys I think you would say are good athletes.
I saw that tee shot you hit off the bottle. What other trick shots can you pull off?
I have a hard enough time practicing real shots. I’m halfway decent hitting it lefty. I can hit it lefty pretty well. I got it on the TrackMan, I think I flew it 290.
Away from golf, who are some of your favorite athletes to watch?
I like all sports, but obviously LeBron. There’s just so many guys. Steph Curry. JR Smith—he’s a golfer. I’ve become friends with him a little bit. He can play, he’s got a nice swing. And I’ve played quite a bit with MJ and Wayne [Gretzky] and I’ve become more of a hockey fan being around the Gretzkys.
So if you’ve played with Michael Jordan numerous times, you have to give me one MJ on the golf course story.
As competitive as he was in basketball, he might be more competitive at golf.
What kind of trash talker is MJ on the golf course?
Just how he was on the basketball court.
So he was busting your chops even though you’re the No. 1 golfer in the world?
Always. MJ I give him five [strokes] a side. He plays from the same tees. MJ’s a good player. But playing from the same tees, if he played up a box it would be less [strokes], for sure.
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