National Inclusion Week 2020: Tamsin Greenway meets Andrew 'Beef' Johnston
"The more pressure I put on my game and the less fun I was having, the more things were grinding away at me. Every week it became harder and harder to the point where I wasn't having any fun."
By Ali Stafford
Last Updated: 29/09/20 6:33pm
Andrew 'Beef' Johnston opened up about his mental health problems and how he adapted to finding fame in golf during a special interview for National Inclusion Week.
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As part of the week's theme of bringing people and organisations together to connect and inspire each other, Johnston caught up with former Netball international and now Sky Sports pundit Tamsin Greenway to discuss a range of topics.
Johnston explained where his nickname of 'Beef' came from and how he first fell in love with the sport, as well as the story about how he ended up smashing cheeseburgers with a driver for a promotional shoot!
The Englishman, who registered his breakthrough European Tour success at the 2016 Open de Espana, reflected on how he quickly became a fans' favourite in the majors and discussed how his time in the spotlight also made him change his outlook about the sport.
"Being a character has its downsides as well," Johnston told Sky Sports. "I've been called a joke and things like that and I think that kind of had a little bit of an affect on me.
"I was like 'maybe I shouldn't be doing what I'm doing and shouldn't be having this fun, maybe it's not normal'. I guess I stopped that a little bit and almost tried to fit in more.
"It made me miserable, made my golf miserable and I put more pressure on myself to do well. I thought that the only way people are going to like me was if I'm playing my best golf all the time and I'm winning things week in, week out.
"The more pressure I put on my game and the less fun I was having, the more things were grinding away at me. Every week it became harder and harder to the point where I wasn't having any fun, I wasn't enjoying myself and I guess was just trying to conform to what a golfer should look like."
Johnston's victory at Valderrama was one of six worldwide top-10s in 2016 and led to him appearing regularly on the PGA Tour the following year, having broken into the world's top 100, although it took time for him to adjust his lofted status within the sport.
"I started to compare myself to other people, which is probably the worst thing you can do," Johnston added. "I had some really good weeks, but I walked off the course like they were really bad weeks. I really lost sight of where my golf game was at.
"I finished mid-20s at The Open in 2017 and I walked off disgusted, because nothing was ever good enough and that was the mental pattern I got in. It didn't matter what I did, it wasn't good enough unless you won and people wouldn't like you because you hadn't one.
"I had to go away and relearn that people like me because of me and not because of my golf. I think it's really anyone in sport and any kids growing up to just be themselves and have fun."
Sky and Sky Sports are supporting National Inclusion Week, a campaign by Inclusive Employees.