News All Articles
Andrew 'Beef' Johnston opens up in honest conversation on mental health

Andrew 'Beef' Johnston opens up in honest conversation on mental health

Andrew Johnston enjoyed a rapid rise as a global fan favourite but the path to fame came at a cost to his mental health.

Ahead of this week's BMW PGA Championship, in support of the tournament’s Official charity partner CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably), Johnston and ex-footballer Robbie Savage discussed their own mental health problems as they looked to challenge the stigma of opening up.

Affectionately known as ‘Beef’, Johnston came to prominence in 2016 when he won a maiden DP World Tour title at the Open de España before finishing tied eighth in The Open Championship at Royal Troon later that season.

In the years that followed, the Englishman faced upheaval in his private life and struggled to deal with his new-found popularity as he lost his form, openly revealing the emotional toll in a Player Blog presented by Enterprise Rent-A-Car.

A week later, Johnston made his way back to The Open with a career-low 62 at the 2019 Scottish Open to finish in a tie for fourth and earn one of the final qualifying spots, before fighting back tears in his post-round interview.

He would later suffer a thumb injury towards the end of 2021 that sidelined him for over a year, but after returning at the Hero Dubai Desert Classic in January this year he underwent surgery a little more than a week later while in Singapore.

“There have been periods of time, especially after I had surgery in Singapore [earlier this year] where you question, are you going to play again?” Johnston said.

“I remember we were on the 19th floor, and something had rattled me, and I was in a really dark place and the thoughts start popping into your head and it's like, what would happen if I just jumped off? What would happen?”

Johnston, who has a three-year-old daughter Harley with his wife Jodie, credits her unwavering support as being instrumental in coming through the “dark place” that he found himself in.

“She has been amazing, so so understanding,” he added. “Without her, I don’t know where I’d be.”

“I believe that pretty much everyone in this world will go through some form of mental health or dark place regardless of what they do.

“Regardless of whether it's sport, if they're CEO of massive companies, whatever they are, they will go through something and everyone can relate to that in some form.”

CALM savage beef

Johnston says his struggles stemmed from a belief he wasn’t good enough to share the same stage as some of his more illustrious peers to the extent it drove him away from wanting to play.

“All of a sudden, I would stand on a range next to your Rory’s or Ricky Fowler’s, whoever it was, and I'd be like, ‘this is ridiculous, I'm not supposed to be here’,” he said.

“The pressure I put on myself after that and I had to try and win every week, which is just so unrealistic. But I didn't know that was happening.

“So, the more pressure I've put on myself, the worse I played, the more wound up I got, the more pressure I felt because I wasn't performing.

“It was like a big sort of rabbit hole or spiral you could have called it to the point where you couldn't get me on a golf course.”

But after seeking advice from renowned sports psychologist Steve Peters, Johnston gained a new-found appreciation of what made him happiest.

“We had a few chats, and it was a case of breaking down and sort of rewiring my brain and understanding what actually happens,” he said.

“I felt like a big weight had been lifted and they told me something really, really interesting, I'll never forget it.

“Quite morbidly, they said, you're lying on your death bed, what do you want to be remembered by?

“I just said, I just want to be Beef or Andrew, whatever, hang out with my mates, be that silly funny character. Have a laugh, have a good time, be remembered as a nice person.

“He went, you didn't mention a golf tournament. And I was like, no I didn't. He was like, it's not that important, is it? It gave me a big slap of reality and that's stayed with me forever.”

Now, as he nears a playing return, Johnston is clear in his mind about how he defines success.

“Not giving up, not giving up.” he said.

Campaign Against Living Miserably [CALM] - the official charity of the 2023 BMW PGA Championship - stands together with everyone who is struggling with life, no matter who they are, where they’re from or what they’re going through.

CALM stands together with everyone who’s struggling with life, no matter who they are, where they’re from or what they’re going through. The campaign is led through vital, life-saving services, national campaigns and by building communities. CALM will be the beneficiaries of charitable activations across site at the BMW PGA Championship, with the BMW and DP World Tour showing its support for CALM’s life-saving work, and changing the conversation around mental health and suicide.

The Recharge in Nature Project is a partnership between BMW & National Parks UK with a shared aim and commitment to enhance the electric car charging network and support vital nature restoration, biodiversity, sustainable tourism and wellbeing initiatives across all 15 National Parks:

If you’re struggling, you can talk to CALM in confidence on 0800 58 58 58 (UK) or through their webchat. CALM’s trained support workers are available from 5pm to midnight, 365 days a year, providing free practical support and advice, whatever you’re going through. To find out more about CALM, their services or for support and advice, please visit:

Read next