This starts a new series talking with South Carolinians playing (or retired from) the PGA Tour and/or LPGA, as well as TV personalities and others. This week, Columbia native and former Myrtle Beach resident Dustin Johnson, one of the top 25 players in the world, tells us about his favorite home-state places to play, eat and relax.
If you’re looking for a home-state favorite at The Masters this week, consider someone whose chances even defending champion Phil Mickelson likes. Dustin Johnson, a frequent practice partner of the three-time Masters winner, tops “Lefty’s” list of 20-somethings who should win a major sooner than later.
That makes sense, because Johnson had two chances to claim his first major a year ago. As anyone who follows professional golf knows, the 6-foot-4 bomber had both the U.S. Open and the PGA Championship in his grasp, but inexperience and lack of attention to local rules cost him.
While Johnson’s taking responsibility for both blown chances earned him much respect from fans and competitors alike, it was his play that convinced Mickelson of his worthiness. Confident but not cocky, Johnson thinks he has a major title in him, too.
“I’m still really young (26), so I’m not putting pressure on myself to win a major,” he said. “If I keep playing like I’m playing, there’s no doubt that I think I’m going to be contending in a lot of majors.” And thrilling those in Columbia
and Myrtle Beach
who know him best.
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.
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; in his fourth year on PGA Tour; has won four PGA Tour titles.
Won back-to-back AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am titles in 2009-10; led the U.S. Open through three rounds before a closing 82; lost a shot at a playoff at the PGA Championship with a two-shot penalty at the 18th hole; bounced back to win the FedExCup Playoffs’ BMW Championship, finishing the year with nearly $4.5 million in earnings.
Where to play:
“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.
“I like to play Bulls Bay (near Mount Pleasant)
and Kiawah’s Ocean Course
, and pretty much all of the good Hilton Head courses.”
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)
“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.”