In the first of his guest columns, Andrew ‘Beef’ Johnston tells us the impact of his long-term hand injury, how he feared for his career, and how he’ll be changing his approach when he returns to the DP World Tour in November.
When John Robins beat me in a match on his YouTube channel last year, he and TG’s digital editor Rob Jerram joked that I’d have to take over his ‘Diary of a Bad Golfer’. So, here I am, writing John’s column while he enjoys life as a Tour star.
Unfortunately for John, his comedy commitments meant he missed out on a trip to Rome with me and our podcast team. I hope his crowds are as big and loud as those I witnessed at my first Ryder Cup! Wow, what an event.
Injury has kept me away from the game for much of the last two years and nothing has provided me with as much motivation to get back and be better than ever than the week at Marco Simone. It blew my mind and I’m going to give it everything to ensure I’m part of the next European team.
But first I need to get back to competing which, thankfully, is on the horizon. After trying every form of treatment under the sun, surgery appears to have fixed my hand injury. I’m back practicing and playing and plan to tee it up in the Joburg Open in South Africa at the start of the new DP World Tour season (November 23).
A long road
Long-term injury is tough. There are times when you don’t know if you’re ever going to play again. Times when you don’t even know if you’re a golfer, to be honest. I’ve been sitting at home thinking, ‘Am I ever going to play a tournament again?’ Broadcasting and podcasting at both The Open and Ryder Cup this year has been amazing for me, mentally. Getting into that tournament environment has helped me remember who I am and has provided me with massive motivation. And the fans have been amazing, of course.
I think if the Ryder Cup had come early on in my injury then I would have struggled to be there. My goal when I was fit was always to make this team so it would have been tinged with jealousy, but now it’s just made me desperate to be at Bethpage in 2025.
I can’t talk about how tough the last couple of years have been without mentioning the part the podcast has played in keeping me going. It’s been huge for me. It came about at a time when I was completely lost. I’d seen two specialists who had absolutely no idea what was wrong with my hand and I was struggling.
But I can log onto the podcast in a f*cking stinking mood or fuming about something and John’s just there with a “hello dear” and just chills me out and makes me giggle. We’ll go through the script and chat for a couple of hours and by the time we finish, I’m in a much better mood.
It’s helped me navigate a difficult couple of years and keep my mind on the game. I’ve enjoyed doing my YouTube stuff, too, branching off and doing different things. The BBQ with Beef series was so much fun and then I’ve been doing a golf series with guys like Jason Fox, Billy Monger and Oliver Phelps. Playing with those guys and getting to know them and their stories is inspiring.
You listen to what a guy like Billy has been through and how positive and motivated he is and it makes you realize that you can do it, too. I’ve been out a long time but seeing him just reaffirmed that I can get back and achieve my goals and ambitions.
I pour my heart and soul into everything I do but the podcast is so different from anything I do. I know that if I put together four of my best rounds of golf I’ll be there or thereabouts in a tournament and once it’s done no one can take away my position or what I achieved. But John and I can put together the best podcast – or what we think is the best podcast – and it’s totally out of our hands whether people listen or like it. It’s a totally different world. Even now, with the success we’ve had, I still worry that it’ll lose traction or that suddenly people are going to turn around and say “Actually, what a load of sh*t this is”!
I still get a bit scared when the guys message me and say “This episode’s going out tonight.” I’ll be sitting at home thinking ‘Is this going to be all right? Are they going to like it?’ It sounds a bit weird because for most people the idea of a golf tournament would probably be more freaky than putting out a podcast, but golf is my comfort zone and if I play well I’ll make good scores. If I record well, that doesn’t guarantee good listens!
A fresh approach
My approach to golf will be very different when I come back. I’ve worked hard to get a good team around me and everyone’s been really supportive. Back in 2016 when everything kind of blew up, I got pulled all over the place and I never really pushed back.
It meant I wasn’t prepared well enough for tournaments. By the time it got to Thursday morning I was mentally and physically exhausted. You can’t expect to go toe-to-toe with the best players in the world when you’re feeling like that before you’ve even hit a ball.
I lost sight of my goals and allowed other things to distract me. Now it’ll all be about putting the goal first. I don’t mean I’ll be telling people to “f*ck off” left, right, and center, but if something is going to interfere with my prep or doesn’t fit my schedule then I’ll say no or ask if we can fit it in at a better time. Watch the best players in the world and it’s all about the prep and the recovery.
I’ve got a lot of fire in me to make that Ryder Cup team and I’m setting myself high targets. People ask if I want to win tournaments, play on the PGA Tour and play or win Majors – of course, I do, but the way I look at it is that if I’ve made a Ryder Cup team then a lot of those other things should have fallen into place. And there’s a big carrot on the DP World Tour now with places on the PGA Tour up for grabs each season. I’m not sure that’s great for the future of our tour, but it’s a great opportunity for us as players.
Looking after myself, my family and team will be key. Jodie and Harley (wife and daughter) will be traveling with me – that’s a non-negotiable for us all.
Early on, if I’m playing well and the hand is feeling good, it’ll be tempting to play a lot. There are four events before Christmas and right now I want to play all four, but I’ve spoken to the doctors and I know that pacing myself and seeing how my body reacts will be key. The last thing I want to do is play an event, get the buzz back, and then be forced out again. That happened in Dubai this year and was just the worst feeling. Thankfully I’ve heard the food and wine are pretty good in Cape Town so I’m sure I’ll find things to keep me busy if I need to take a week off!
LISTEN TO BEEF’S GOLF CLUB NOW
About the Author
Andrew Johnston, better known as Beef, is a professional golfer on the DP World Tour who has also played on the PGA Tour and in three of the four men’s Majors.
The Englishman, who won the Real Club Valderrama Open de España in 2016, has his own YouTube channel and is the owner and co-host of the hit Beef’s Golf Club podcast alongside fellow Today’s Golfer contributor John Robins. He has also tried his hand in the commentary booth and in front of the cameras at both The Open and the Ryder Cup.
A huge fan favorite, Beef is a Cobra Puma player and is coached by Jamie Gough. Away from golf, he is a huge Arsenal FC fan and lives in Portugal with his wife Jodie and daughter Harley.