Columbia native and former Myrtle Beach resident Dustin Johnson, the world's top-ranked player for much of 2017 and 2018, tells us about his favorite home-state places to play, eat and relax.
Dustin Johnson has achieved a rare status among the top players on the PGA TOUR: each time a major championship rolls around on the year's calendar, the lanky former Coastal Carolina University star is always listed among the favorites.
That was true even when Johnson was seemingly finding all sorts of ways NOT to win a major title.
In 2010, he blew a third-round lead at the U.S. Open, and later that year was assessed a final-hole penalty for grounding his club in a poorly-defined “bunker” in the PGA Championship. Five years later, he was in position to claim the U.S. Open at Chambers Bay in Washington State, but three-putted the final hole to hand the title to Jordan Spieth.
Finally in 2016, the best player not to win a major broke through, overcoming a did-he-or-didn’t-he penalty by blowing away the field at the U.S. Open at Oakmont Country Club in Pittsburgh. And while Johnson’s majors woes seemingly returned when he lost a final-round share of the lead at the U.S. Open in 2018 due to mediocre putting, most observers believe there will be other major titles in his future.
Consider this: Johnson has won at least one tournament title in each of his seasons on the PGA TOUR through 2018. A low-key, seemingly stress-free player, he has turned around his game and his life in recent years, becoming a father (with fiancée Paulina Gretzky, daughter of hockey great Wayne Gretzky) and connecting with “The Great One” to smooth out bumps in the road.
Johnson may or may not become a multiple-major winner as he plays through his 30s, but for the immediate future, he easily remains the greatest PGA TOUR player ever from South Carolina. And his love for his home state spills over into his love of golf, food and fun he finds in the Palmetto State.
Hometown: Born and grew up in Columbia; lived in Myrtle Beach while at Coastal Carolina University and maintains a house there; currently lives in Jupiter, Fla.
Bio: Helped Dutch Fork High golf team win a state title; three-time All-American golfer at Coastal Carolina, leading Chanticleers to their first three NCAA Tournament appearances; Johnson has become one of the most consistent winners in PGA TOUR history with at least one title in each year as a professional.
Highlights: Captured the 2016 U.S. Open at Oakmont (PA) by three shots, despite a post-round, one-stroke penalty for supposedly causing his ball to move on the fifth green; has won multiple World Golf Championship titles, including four times in five years (2014-2018), and multiple FedEx Cup playoff events; career earnings have topped $50 million through 2018.
Where to golf: “In Myrtle Beach, I really like TPC Myrtle Beach (home course for Coastal Carolina’s golf team). It’s a challenging golf course, fun to play, different holes and you have to hit a lot of different shots – a mixture of those, you’ve got to hit all the clubs in your bag.
“I also like the Dunes (Golf and Beach) Club; it’s right on the ocean, an old course, just a fun course to play, always well-maintained and another course that’s challenging, got good length to it, you’ve got to hit a bunch of shots. The (par-5) Waterloo hole is the one that wraps around a lake. I usually hit 3-iron off the tee depending on the wind and try to get as close to the water on the right, and then I can usually hit the green in two with the wind; against it, probably not.
Where to eat: “In Charleston, I always go to Hall’s Steak House on King Street. The Hall family owns it, and I’ve been there enough times over the years that they know me.
“At home in Myrtle Beach, I’m a big fan of the Sea Merchant seafood restaurant; that’s where I always went with my Grandma and her friends before she passed away. I also like New York Prime for steaks and Divine Fish House (Murrells Inlet) for seafood.
“Back in Columbia where I grew up, Lizard’s Thicket is still my favorite place to go. I love that good ol’ country cooking.”
Where to play: “I love being on the water, whether on a boat or riding a board. In Columbia, I love Lake Murray with my friends, and in Myrtle Beach, we’ve got the Intracoastal Waterway. I have my house up there on the water, and my boat. There’s a little restaurant and bar on (U.S.) 501 – I can’t think of the name, if you can believe that – it’s on the water, and we like to go there on Sundays. It’s a pretty fun place.
“I still like water parks, too; the ones in Myrtle Beach are a lot of fun. My favorites are Myrtle Waves and one in Surfside Beach called Wild Water (& Wheels). And I like to fish; I’m into deep-sea fishing now, going out of Myrtle Beach, but I’ll still fish for flounder in the creeks. I like all of that.”