Dustin Johnson visits Grand Strand for major groundbreaking

Dustin Johnson has been the world’s top-ranked golfer for the past year.

He’s building a state-of-the-art golf performance and training center at his golf school at TPC Myrtle Beach that he hopes will produce players that will follow in his footsteps.

Johnson was on the Grand Strand Thursday to take part in a groundbreaking ceremony for the forthcoming Dustin Johnson Golf Performance Center that will be the home of the Dustin Johnson Golf School, and to welcome participants in his Dustin Johnson World Junior Golf Championship.

The Coastal Carolina alumnus also planned to attend the welcome dinner for the junior participants at Wicked Tuna in Murrells Inlet on Thursday night, marking the second straight year he has met with the junior participants.

The tournament is being played Friday through Sunday at the TPC, and it has attracted most of the top players from the Carolinas as well as 13 of America's top 100 junior boys, seven top 100 junior girls and several top juniors from a few international countries.

“Having my junior tournament here this week, that’s something that’s really special to me,” Johnson said. “For me, giving back to the game of golf is something I’m very passionate about, and junior golf is. Anytime I can help grow the game or get juniors in the game, that’s just what I want to do.

“. . . I think we’ve got a world class tournament here for juniors. Talking to all the kids, they all tell me it’s one of the best tournaments they play in, so that’s good to hear. I have very good people that put on a great tournament.”

The DJ Golf School has existed for the past 4 1/2 years, since director of coaching Allen Terrell left Coastal Carolina after 13 years as head men’s golf coach, and it will now have a building for instruction and offices.

The 3,100-square-foot performance center is expected to be completed by the end of May and will feature three indoor hitting bays, three covered outdoor hitting areas, a fitness center, a classroom, a kitchen, restrooms and the offices of the Dustin Johnson Foundation.

Technology that will be used includes TrackMan, AimPoint and MySwing 3D.

“I’m looking forward to being able to teach year-round,” Terrell said. “It doesn’t matter the weather, it doesn’t matter if it snows like it did last month. We’ll be able to give instruction. So I don’t have an excuse not to teach. I guess I’ll be out here seven days a week.”

The TPC was essentially Coastal’s home course during Johnson’s four seasons at CCU from 1993-97.

“This building has kind of been in the works for a while,” Johnson said. “It’s definitely special for me to have it here at TPC Myrtle Beach, which is where I really developed my game. There’s really no other place I’d rather have it.

“We’ve needed a place to practice and play, a facility like we’re building.”

Johnson is currently honing his game for the season’s first major championship, the Masters in early April.

He had won three consecutive starts entering the Masters last season before he fell down a small set of stairs at his rental home in Augusta, Ga., deeply bruised his back and withdrew prior to the first round. He missed a month before returning for a runner-up finish in the Wells Fargo Championship, and won again in The Northern Trust in August, but was never able to completely recapture the dominant form he had prior to the Masters.

Johnson is taking precautions this year. He has moved from the house he stayed in last year because it has bad mojo. “We got a different house,” Johnson said. “It wasn’t in the right area.”

In five events this season, Johnson has a win, a pair of runner-up finishes and two other finishes inside the top 16.

Last week in the Genesis Open at Riviera Country Club outside Los Angeles, Johnson tied for 16th with rounds of 69 and 64 on Friday and Saturday that were bookended by rounds of 74 and 73.

The 17-time winner on the PGA Tour will play at least in the WGC-Mexico Championship next week and WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play — he is the defending champion in both — before the Masters.

“My game is in pretty good shape. I’ve got some practicing I need to do,” Johnson said. “There are a few things I can clean up, for sure. But I feel it’s getting close to being really good.”