Dustin Johnson has been revered for what he can do on the golf course, including his win Sunday in the BMW Championship to take the FedExCup points lead heading into next week’s Tour Championship.
He has also been maligned for how many believe he has behaved off the course, with a penchant for partying perhaps a little too hard and having perhaps a little too much fun.
It’s a frequently repeated rumor that was published by Golf.com that Johnson was suspended for cocaine use when he announced in August 2014 he was taking a leave of absence from the tour to tackle “personal challenges.”
Another side of Johnson is revealed in a first-person article in the September issue of Golf Digest written by Claire Rogers, who is now a junior at Boston College.
She gives us a glimpse of what Johnson was like in person in the summer of 2006 following his junior year at Coastal Carolina, when her family hosted Johnson and his father Scott for Johnson’s week as a participant in the Northeast Amateur Invitational at Wannamoisett Country Club in Rumford, R.I.
Johnson made fans for life from the Rogers’ experience as a host family.
Rogers was 11 then, and writes about how she and her three siblings would shoot hoops with Johnson in the evenings and he’d lift her younger siblings, Ellen and Brendan, so they could hang from the rim.
Johnson, who turned 22 while staying with the family, nicknamed Brendan “B” and asked him to wake him for his tee times, and B sat at the foot of Johnson’s bed to do so. When Johnson learned B had a peanut allergy, he cleaned his bag to ensure he didn’t have any snacks with nuts.
Rogers wrote about Dustin wrestling with B near the putting green when they called his name for the long drive contest, and he casually strolled over, kicked off his flip flops and set his Corona down to win the contest with a drive well over 300 yards and earn some pro shop credit.
Johnson attended Rogers’ Little League game with her family and offered encouraging words when her team lost to end its season. Before leaving, he left her older brother, Tim, who caddied for Johnson in the event, some CCU gear, a 60-degree wedge with his stamped initials, some Titleist Pro-V1s for the family that he purchased with his pro shop credit, and a thank-you note on his bed.
Johnson left his grandmother’s email address and for the next few years she would send recipes and Dustin’s tournament results to the Rogers family.
Johnson won the Northeast Amateur the following summer just before turning professional. He chatted with Tim and Rogers’ father when he saw them at the 2011 Masters and always chats with B, now 15, and offers to leave the family tickets every year at the Deutsche Bank Championship at TPC Boston.
Rogers can be followed under her popular Twitter handle @GolfProblems_.
Sea Trail full strength
The Jones Course at Sea Trail Golf Resort will reopen Thursday with new greens following a renovation project this summer.
The course transitioned from L93 bentgrass to Champion ultradwarf Bermudagrass, which is already featured on the 54-hole resort’s Byrd Course. The Jones Course received cart path and bunker renovations last year.
The course’s reopening was delayed about a week from original plans because of Tropical Storm Hermine’s wrath on Sept. 2. Course workers needed extra days to clean up debris and prepare bunkers.
“The greens have grown in very nicely,” said Sea Trail general manager Raymond Crabb. “It went absolutely excellent. We’re very pleased, and hopefully we’ll get everything looking as pristine as the greens.”
The club is considering some further improvements to the Byrd Course this winter.
The Jones Club renovations were going to be part of an estimated $1.3 million renovation project at Sea Trail that was going to include a redesign of Magnolias Restaurant, which is located in the main Byrd/Jones clubhouse.
The restaurant project has been delayed until late November because the club has had difficulty finding contractors, Crabb said, and is still expected to involve an enhanced entry, outdoor patio dining with a fire pit and tropical landscaping, and an interior featuring cool slate, natural wood and stone surfaces.
The plan now is to close Magnolias just before Thanksgiving and reopen for Valentine’s Day.
The Hummingbird nine at Wild Wing Plantation reopened Monday following renovations that included changing greens from PennLinks bentgrass to MiniVerde Bermudagrass, which is already featured on the property’s 18-hole Avocet Course.
The nine holes closed in April, and in addition to work on the greens, some bunkers were modified and others were removed, and overgrowth in the wetlands areas was cut down.
Wild Wing general manager Rick Schultz said a plan called for the removal of about 30 bunkers and some are still being taken out, and the remaining dozen or so bunkers have been edged and had sand replaced or added.
“The ones we left were to give the green surrounds more definition and placement for some of the advanced golfers,” Schultz said. “We’re making it more playable, and plan to keep the maintenance up more than in the past.”
Schultz said the short course may be changed from a par 34 to a par 35 by lengthening a par-3 into a par-4 in the near future.
Green fees for the Hummingbird nine are $18 for nine holes and $27 for 18 holes, both with a cart.
Program Challenge back
Sister courses Caledonia Golf & Fish Club and True Blue Golf Club, which are both ranked among the top 100 public courses in the U.S. by Golf Magazine, are hosting the Golfweek Program Challenge this week for the sixth consecutive year.
The 54-hole tournament is part of Golfweek’s 2016 Collegiate Series. It concludes Tuesday and spectators are welcome.
The tournament has a format that is unique to college golf, and this year’s tournament features 16 NCAA Division I men’s and women’s teams from 11 states.
The men and women have their own separate tournaments, with the men competing at True Blue and the women playing at Caledonia. But in addition to titles for the top men’s and women’s teams, there is an overall title to the school that has the lowest combined scores from its two programs.
The 16 competing schools are: Xavier, Western Carolina, Boston College, Campbell, Elon, Gardner-Webb, Houston Baptist, Jacksonville (Fla.) University, Jacksonville State (Ala.) University, James Madison, Mercer, Morehead State, Radford, Stetson, Tennessee Tech and Valparaiso.
Jacksonville leads a tight men’s competition through two rounds at 19-under 557. James Madison is one shot back, Campbell is two, Jacksonville State is three and Mercer is six strokes back. Camilo Aguado of Jacksonville State and Thomas Lamorte of Campbell lead the men’s individual competition at 10-under 134, a stroke ahead of Jacksonville’s David Wicks.
In the women’s competition, Boston College and Campbell share the lead at 7-over 575 and are 12 shots clear of Morehead State in third. Anna Magnusson is the women’s individual leader at 4-under 138 and Stetson’s Carolin Schart and Jacksonville State’s Valentina Giraldo are three strokes back in second.
Campbell, which has won the event four times – Old Dominion (2014) is the only other winner – has a commanding 19-stroke lead in the combined overall competition at 10 under. Jacksonville State is 9 over, B.C. is 10 over and Jacksonville is 12 over.
The local chapter of the Golfweek Amateur Tour hosted a regional tournament for the first time on Labor Day weekend, and the event featured a course record and a hole-in-one.
The Grand Strand Classic was held at Pine Lakes Country Club and the Grande Dunes Resort Course, and featured 119 players from 11 different tours in seven states.
Local players dominated the event, however, as four of the tournament’s five flights were won by players from the Myrtle Beach-Wilmington chapter, with the lone exception the D Flight, which was won by Charleston’s Chris Huge.
Jeff Allen of Jacksonville, N.C., and the Myrtle Beach-Wilmington chapter shot a course-record 62 from the back tees at Pine Lakes Country Club in soft conditions left by Tropical Storm Hermine and won the championship flight by six shots with a 62-73–135.
Allen, 42, won the 2013 North Carolina Mid-Amateur Championship in a playoff over Walker Cup participant Scott Harvey of Greensboro and Matthew Crenshaw of Burlington.
Adam Finlay won the A Flight with rounds of 71 and 75, Greg Moses won the B Flight with rounds of 74 and 77, and Tommy Holt won the C Flight with rounds of 82 and 86.
Elvis Sheahan from the Central Carolina Tour recorded a hole in one in the tournament, and the field combined for 231 birdies, three eagles and the ace.
Griego a national champ
Matthew Griego of North Myrtle Beach won the National Junior Golf Tour’s 16th annual National Championship this past week on the General Hackler Course at Coastal Carolina, which was set up to play approximately 6,500 yards.
Griego shot rounds of 74 and 76 to tie for the lead at 6-over 150 and prevailed in a three-man playoff over Thomas Setzer of Winston-Salem, N.C., and Chance Taylor of Gate City, Va. Griego, a junior at North Myrtle Beach High, made five birdies and 11 bogeys over 36 holes.
Kevin Burris of Conway and McClure Thompson of Little River tied for fourth at 8-over 152, and Seth Boyce of Myrtle Beach finished seventh at 154 in the 25-player event. and