For the past four years, the content team here at PlayGolfMyrtleBeach.com has been fortunate to be granted access to the world’s top-ranked golfer whenever he’s back on the Grand Strand. Each member of that team – Kyle Oland, David Williams and Jim Maggio – has some very distinct impressions that they’ve drawn from some of Dustin Johnson’s visits.
Some of those impressions were drawn from the kinds of things you don’t normally see from DJ in public.
All of them have led us to the same conclusion:
It’s no wonder he’s the best at what he does.
The Fast Rise of the Dustin Johnson Golf School
Out of all the places in the country Dustin could have selected to be the home of his golf school, he chose Myrtle Beach. Located at TPC Myrtle Beach, this state-of-the-art facility officially opened its doors in 2019 but the groundwork had been paved long before by Director of Coaching Allen Terrell. Terrell, the swing coach for DJ and his college coach at Coastal Carolina, joined with DJ to start the award-winning school in Myrtle Beach following a successful collegiate coaching career where he was named Big South Coach of the Year an astounding 11 times.
Outfitted with the best technology in the game, Dustin’s facility in Myrtle Beach not only attracts some of the sport’s top collegiate and high school players, but also dozens upon dozens of recreational golfers who hope to get their swings fine-tuned by Terrell and his coaching staff. DJ is also known for his passion for seeing kids pick up the game he so enjoys. His school embodies that mentality, holding yearly summer camps and weekly programs for kids. You will often see dozens of kids roaming the halls of his facility donning Dustin Johnson-branded apparel!
Through the efforts of Terrell and DJ, the Dustin Johnson Golf School has quickly gained national renown as a premier teaching facility for players and coaches alike, with a future as bright as that of its namesake! – Kyle Oland
The Dustin Johnson World Junior Golf Championship
Over the past six years, the Dustin Johnson World Junior Golf Championship has grown into a must-play tournament for many of the game’s top junior golfers. We’ve been lucky enough to tag along with Dustin whenever he comes to town for the event, and this past year was the most access we had ever been granted.
After working with Allen Terrell more that morning, Dustin hopped in a cart and drove over to the range. Many of the juniors were out on the golf course already for their practice round, but a few were still warming up. Dustin stopped to chat up every single kid. Taking pictures, interacting with their parents, and asking them about their game. He was, and always is, the perfect host.
While on the course, Dustin met with all of the golfers. Watching them hit shots, and just chatting like he was one of the competitors. Standing behind the 7th green, Dustin and Allen talked about where the pin should be on which day. They did the same thing on 8, and once more on 9.
Whenever Dustin is in town for his event, his desire to interact with every competitor puts his unmatched passion for junior golf on full display. And those of us who’ve been fortunate enough to work with him, as well as everyone involved in the World Junior, are better for it. – David Williams
Building on a Hall of Fame Legacy
It’s hard to think of any professional in his or her mid-30s as a hall of famer, if only because an enshrinement is often a defining moment that comes at the end of a remarkable run of achievement. For Dustin Johnson and his fellow 2019 Myrtle Beach Golf Hall of Fame inductees, though, it was part of a story that each honoree hopes to continue to build for many years to come.
And so it was that February night – before, during and after he stepped to a dais shared with co-honorees Mark Bryan, Darius Rucker, Dean Felber and Jim “Soni” Sonefeld of Grammy Award-winning recording artist Hootie & the Blowfish – that DJ was quick to deflect attention to them, and others in attendance. And despite the overwhelming commitment he and the band have made over the years to support junior golf in South Carolina, you got the sense that while DJ was happy to accept the accolades, his spoken words revealed a man looking less to reflect on past achievement and more to look forward.
“Myrtle Beach has been a huge part of my career, living here, Coach Terrell …” DJ told the audience. “I’m very humbled and honored just to be able to give back to the community I feel like I almost kind of grew up in. I’m proud to stand up here in front of you guys, and hopefully I can continue to make you all proud.” – Jim Maggio
DJ’s Impact on the Myrtle Beach Community
For as much time as Dustin has spent in Myrtle Beach, usually people only read or see the “newspaper worthy” moments. But one important aspect of DJ and his relationship with the Grand Strand is rooted in the impact he’s had on our local community. Here is where we find the moments that aren’t highly publicized, moments that offer a glimpse of the “real” DJ.
DJ and his charitable Dustin Johnson Foundation have poured tens of thousands of dollars back into the Myrtle Beach area, including providing golf lessons and equipment to area youth. His impact on kids’ lives goes widely unnoticed, but is worth noting – especially when it’s reflected by the quiet moments that were never intended to be publicized.
During the Grand Opening of DJ’s golf school in 2019, a number of area kids were in attendance to celebrate the occasion. In true DJ form, as a large crowd arrived for the opening ceremony, DJ escaped for a brief moment to the solitude of his sanctuary – the practice range, where he routinely gets lost in quiet thought and preparation for his next competition.
Only this time, the sanctuary was occupied by a young boy who had DJ’s full attention. Spencer Townsend, who lost his father in 2016 to a tragic car accident, was already there whacking ball after ball, pouring every ounce of energy he could wring out of his 4-foot-tall body into every swing.
DJ casually approached Spencer, pulled up a bucket and sat down in front of him. He sat there for the next 15 minutes, talking quietly with Spencer as the little boy took his swings and the two shared smiles and the common bond of golf. In that moment, there was no doubt in my mind that DJ was more comfortable around Spencer than the horde of guests looking to take a picture with him.
The moment was genuine. The moment was pure. And in a way, it gave you a unique look into the heart of DJ. – Kyle Oland
Seeing is Believing
We say it all the time as we watch top amateur and professional athletes compete.
“They make it look too easy.”
In the case of Dustin Johnson and every high-performing athlete, though, we know that natural ability is only one part of what makes this phenomenon possible. Long hours at the practice range, in the gym and crunching data have a lot to say about the results, too. Yet it never ceases to amaze when you see that ability reveal itself right in front of you – especially in the casual moments.
Five years back, DJ was in town for a promotional shoot that included the Bryan Brothers, George and Wesley, who to that point in their careers had become renowned golf trick shot artists (Wesley has since joined DJ on the PGA TOUR). Though executing trick shots is not DJ’s primary focus, it was fascinating to see how comfortably he was able to jump into the Bryan Brothers’ world – if even for just brief moments.
Fast forward to February 2019, when that year’s top American junior golfer, Akshay Bhatia, was in town to compete in a World Junior Golf Championship he would go on to win in record-setting fashion. On a practice range whim, DJ grabbed one of Bhatia’s irons and started casually striping balls in straight-line fashion.
I play golf left-handed. Or at least attempt to. Seeing DJ hit lasers from his unnatural side was an unexpected reminder to me that even a pro’s “weak” side will always be light years ahead of most amateurs’ strong one. – Jim Maggio
Dustin Johnson Training (and Roadside Assisting) in Myrtle Beach
A couple days before the 2020 Dustin Johnson World Junior Golf Championship, Dustin called Allen Terrell and said he needed to come to his golf school to work on a few things. Dustin was coming off a T-48 finish at the World Golf Championship-Mexico Championship. Arriving at the golf school a few days before the tournament, Dustin sat down with Terrell for a bit. After discussing everything from the shafts in the clubs to the most intricate parts of the golf swing, Dustin was ready to go to work. Hitting golf ball after golf ball, Dustin and Allen sat there for hours diving deep into the numbers. Dustin’s work ethic was on full display.
Taking a break, Dustin went to visit with the kids from his golf school’s junior camps. Fielding questions, wowing the kids with drives, he was great with the kids. As soon it was over, it was off to the putting green.
While putting, DJ noticed a truck stuck in a ditch next to the school. Before we fully realized what was going on, Dustin was already helping to move the truck. Thanks to the aid of a passerby Dustin found some rope, tied up the truck and gave it a good shove. Off they went, waving and thanking Dustin.
As if nothing happened, Dustin quietly returned to the putting green, and picked up where he’d left off.
We all saw the real DJ that day: an incredibly talented golfer, and caring person who is always there to help. – David Williams