Most recreational golfers have a golf hero they like to emulate.

Some want to send drives far out of sight like Bryson DeChambeau. Some want to hole long putts like Jack Nicklaus in his prime. Others swoon at Phil Mickelson’s exquisite flop shots.

I gave up on those sorts of dreams years ago, but I have a new goal. Everyone needs a goal. Mine is to amble like Dustin Johnson.

If there is a better ambler, he or she is in hiding somewhere on a ranch out West.

Johnson has perfected this art. It’s mostly seen in individuals who have nowhere to go and a lot of time to get there. They wobble along at the speed of an uninspired snail, seemingly with little concern for what’s ahead – long-term or short. 

Johnson is a professional. He ambles so well you wonder if he does it sitting down.

Johnson is beyond stoic on the golf course. He hasn’t shown any excitement since seeing Paulina Gretzky for the first time.

He plays golf as if it’s all just a lark in the park – or that’s the appearance he gives. Inside his head, great things are happening and big plans are afoot for the next shot, but on the outside, he’s just a guy out for a leisurely afternoon of wandering.

The Johnson amble is so profound precisely because it doesn’t seem to mesh with the image of a top-of-the-world golfer who must put every second of thought into the next shot he’s approaching. Johnson walks – uh, ambles – from shot to shot like he’s heading for the drink table at a backyard barbecue. 

Ambling can be compared to sauntering, rambling, strolling, and maybe even traipsing, but none of those activities exactly matches it. The true amble is a thing of beauty, a lackadaisical jaunt that ignores whatever pressures there might be on time and place. It isn’t that Johnson plays slowly – other players have mastered that often frustrating art; it’s that he approaches the game as if he’s birdwatching in a meadow.

It’s difficult to analyze the Johnson amble and thus difficult to copy it. Lean and lanky, he has an ambling advantage. We probably won’t get a scientific look at the particular pieces of his amble until one of the golf magazines does a multi-page, 10-photo breakdown of it, from the second he finishes an approach shot until he arrives on the green.

Golf’s grinders and uber-serious players take a steely-eyed approach to the game. Johnson is so good that he can amble from shot to shot seemingly without a worry in the world. He even makes surveying putts look like a picnic in contrast to players who use the intense study of protractors, slide rules and calculators to figure out the trajectory of their next putt.

I tried the ambling thing during a round the other day. All I got was yelled at by the ranger.

Takes a professional.

Mike Hembree

Mike Hembree is a veteran journalist who has covered a variety of sports for numerous publications and websites, including USA Today, Fox Sports, TV Guide and The Greenville (S.C.) News. He has written 14 books and has won numerous writing awards at the national, regional and state levels. He is a seven-time winner of the National Motorsports Press Association Writer of the Year Award.