I’d just moved back to Myrtle Beach in the summer of 2008 and was having lunch with Ted Frick, the owner of Classic Swing Golf School, when talk turned to Dustin Johnson. I had heard of DJ – he was a rookie on the PGA Tour that year – but wasn’t acquainted with just how talented the recent Coastal Carolina University grad was.
That’s when Frick said DJ was good enough to win multiple majors and be the best player in the world.
Frick never hesitated before responding in the affirmative.
Months later, DJ birdied the final two holes of the Turning Stone Resort Championship to secure his first PGA Tour victory.
Fast forward 12 years and Johnson, who moved to Myrtle Beach as a kid beginning college, has grown into the world’s best player, fulfilling his immense promise. His journey now includes golf’s most coveted prize – the Green Jacket, given annually to The Masters champion.
DJ continues to visit Myrtle Beach – TPC Myrtle Beach is the home of his namesake golf school and junior golf tournament, after all – and over the years, we’ve enjoyed watching some pretty cool scenes that offer insight into the talent and personality of the World’s No. 1 golfer.
Here are a few of the moments that standout.
— Dustin was filming a commercial on the par 3 17th hole at TPC Myrtle Beach, which features a peninsula green. The course wasn’t closed and DJ was on a tight schedule, so filming was going on during play. You can imagine the shock on everyone’s face when they arrived at the tee to find Dustin Johnson hitting golf balls. He posed for pictures and let groups play their tee shots, but when they got to the green, he continued to hit balls. The flag was on the left side of the green, and Dustin was hitting balls on the right side while players watched in amazement, between putts. You could’ve drawn a 10-foot circle and it would’ve surrounded every shot he hit. When groups finished putting out, they cleared the balls DJ hit off the green and kept them as keepsakes!
— At the grand opening of the Dustin Johnson Golf School, DJ was showcasing the new Trackman he purchased for students to use. He was hitting shots with a wedge and as soon as he struck the ball, he would call out the distance. I swear he never missed by more than a yard. Just like the scene on the 17th green, the consistency was amazing.
— Have you ever watched the man hit a driver from up close? It’s equal parts amazing, mesmerizing and emasculating as you realize that the game you both play is similar in name only.
— The Bryan brothers – who were then known more for being trick shot artists (this was before Wesley earned a spot on Tour and won the Heritage) – joined Dustin for a photo shoot at Grande Dunes Resort Club. During some down time on the 14th tee, one of the Bryans decided to start bouncing a ball off the face of a wedge and then pop it to DJ who would then lash the ball across the Intracoastal Waterway with his driver. Dustin’s first attempt went awry, but he never missed again, hammering a moving ball after full swing with the driver. It was an amazing display of hand-eye coordination.
— There is another side of Johnson most people never see. He is also the host of the Dustin Johnson World Junior Golf Championship, held annually at TPC Myrtle Beach. A lot of players lend their name to an event but very few have shown the commitment Johnson has. The year after he won U.S. Open at Oakmont, DJ showed up at his tournament with the trophy and took a picture with every kid playing and he has done the same in subsequent years. At the opening of his golf school, when DJ wasn’t calling his shots on Trackman, he quietly spent time with Spencer Townsend, the son of a late PGA professional Michael Townsend, who tragically passed away in a car accidents. Those actions, away from the media spotlight, say as much about DJ as that new green jacket.