Andrew ‘Beef’ Johnston has become one of the more recognisable names in golf through his outgoing personality and unique appearance. But the Englishman is keen to be known for his golf first and foremost, which he hopes will shine on the Gold Coast at the Australian PGA from November 29 – December 2.
Despite possessing what he labelled a “shocking” tan that comprises “half brown arms and a brown head and then the rest is proper white” during a teleconference this week, Johnston is keen to take on the all the Gold Coast has to offer during his trip, including the beach and surfing.
However, the 2016 Open de España champion will be completely focused when he sets foot on RACV Royal Pines, with his new thinner physique and longer driving sure to help his cause.
“Out on the course, I obviously take my golf seriously and make sure I’m concentrating and playing my golf but yeah like to have a bit of fun as well. I never had the intention of doing the entertainment side, it’s just something I do,” Johnston said.
“I know that I take it (golf) seriously and that’s the most important thing.”
The 29-year-old’s recent weight loss, that saw him dip under 100kgs in September, wasn’t originally a focus for the cult figure. But after losing some weight unintentionally, Beef made the gym a renewed focus, with the positive results also showing up in his golf game.
“I’ve always enjoyed the training, it was just one of those where I had a few personal things back home this year and when I walked in the gym and saw my trainer and I stepped on the scales and I had actually lost a couple of kilos, without doing anything. And used it as a kick start and started training again,” he said.
Right: Johnston's relationship with John Daly goes far beyond a mutual larger than life persona. PHOTO: Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images.
“It’s helped, definitely rotationally it’s helped. And I feel good, and I’m hitting it a bit further. I’ve put on a few yards, which is nice.”
The extra distance Johnston alludes to is clear in his statistics on the European Tour, where he is averaging over 300 yards for the first time, and his ball striking has also seen an improvement on last year. But the results haven’t followed just yet, with only two top-10s since his visit to Perth for the World Super 6 in February.
“It’s just been quite inconsistent to be honest,” Johnston said of his run of middle of the field results. “When I’ve hit the ball well I haven’t holed anything and when I’ve hit it everywhere I’ve sort of chipped and putted well. I just haven’t really put it together. You’ve got to be consistent over the four days and I just haven’t done that.
“I’ve been working hard. I’ve been training, I’ve been practicing. It’s just a matter of being patient.”
The November visit will be Johnston’s first to the east coast of Australia, having teed it up in Perth on a number of occasions, and one he hasn’t taken lightly when planning his schedule. Beef joining the chorus of players suggesting a move in the dates of our biggest events could help secure more big names and stronger fields.
“It is so tough, to look at your schedule and decide where you’re going to play. Everyone has their preference and after their playing the tournaments at the end of the year, it’s the time for a break. And I’ve done that the last couple of years as well.
“You need to have that switch off, mostly after Dubai. It is a tough time of year. I think if the scheduling was a bit different and the tournaments were at different times, I think more players would come down and play. I just think it’s that time of the season where everyone’s sort of hammered it from January all the way through till the end of November, and they’re looking at going on holiday in early December then have Christmas then get back to it early Jan you know. It’s a tough thing.”
Inspired by the recent good play of Tommy Fleetwood and Eddie Pepperell, who he played alongside in English junior teams. Johnston has also taken plenty of advice from another larger than life player, who made regular trips to our shores and had some of his most infamous moments at the Australian PGA Championship.
John Daly and Beef seemed a natural pair when videos of the two spending time together emerged on social media. But the younger player was quick to heap praise on the two-time major champion for his efforts to help guide his career and improve his game as something of a mentor.
“John’s always been great,” Johnston said of Daly. “He’s always looking out for me, asking how my golf is. And when I’m over in Florida, if he’s over there we’ll go and practice and I can ask him anything you know, whether it’s either different shots or what he does, or what he’s learnt from experience over the years, so yeah he’s always sort of keeping in touch. I’ve got so much time for the guy, he’s wicked.”
Johnston’s recent commitment to his body and game suggest that Daly’s words are taking effect – and he may avoid some of the pitfalls that mean the American is thought of more for his behaviour and incidents than his outstanding golf game, something the Englishman is certainly capable of himself.
Fans of the stomach-signing, rap-loving side of Beef fear not: His serious approach to his golf and wanting to be known for his game – and not his antics – won’t see him tone down his enjoyment of the game.
Johnston’s description of a potential celebration for a hole-in-one at RACV Royal Pines’ ‘Million Dollar Hole’ during the event suggests that the same Beef is inside the new slimmed-down version.
“I’d probably do something completely stupid,” Johnston said. “I can probably guarantee that. I never know what’s going to happen. It’s never pre-planned or anything, what will be will be.”