The Myrtle Beach Golf Hall of Fame has stepped up its game this year.
The 2019 class has not only contributed to the area golf industry, it’s world famous.
Coastal Carolina University alumnus Dustin Johnson, who held professional golf’s No. 1 ranking for more than a year, and the band Hootie & the Blowfish, which holds an annual fundraising celebrity tournament and concert on the Grand Strand, are being honored this year.
All four band members and Johnson have vowed to be in attendance for the induction ceremony on Feb. 27 in the Hall of Fame Garden behind the Pine Lakes Country Club clubhouse.
“There are so many of the hall of fame members who are from here and either built courses or have been a central part of the golf community. Dustin and the band are a little bit different but certainly as impactful,” said Bill Golden, chief executive officer of the Golf Tourism Solutions marketing and technology agency that manages the induction ceremony and voting process for the hall’s board of directors.
“Both have longstanding ties to the area, both are great advocates for the game of golf and continue to come to the area for a variety of reasons. . . . Collectively their impact on golf, the state of South Carolina and certainly our community has been tremendous.”
Johnson is perhaps CCU’s most famous alumnus and maintained a residence in Myrtle Beach for several years after four years at the Conway school from 2003-07.
The Columbia native has won 19 PGA Tour events, including the 2016 U.S. Open and at least one event in each of his first 11 years on the tour entering this season. He has held the No. 1 spot in the Official World Golf Ranking for a total of 81 weeks, including 64 consecutive weeks in 2017-18, and has represented the United States in a combined seven Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup competitions. His PGA Tour earnings exceed $56 million.
Johnson, 34, has served as an ambassador for the Myrtle Beach golf industry through a multi-year contract with marketing cooperative Myrtle Beach Golf Holiday and remains tied to the area through his golf school at the TPC Myrtle Beach in Murrells Inlet. The Dustin Johnson Golf School is run by his former CCU coach, Allen Terrell, and Johnson memorabilia including tournament trophies is on display in the TPC clubhouse.
Johnson also donates to causes including junior golf in the area through the Dustin Johnson Foundation and annually sponsors the Dustin Johnson World Junior Golf Championship at the TPC, which features an international field and many of the top juniors in the country. It will be held for the fourth time March 1-3.
The current World No. 3 is expected to be on the Strand for a few days. A grand opening celebration for a golf performance and training center at his school is Feb. 28 and his junior tournament follows.
Johnson participated in the Hootie MAM in 2013 and ’14.
Hootie & the Blowfish has sold more than 25 million albums. Prior to its mainstream success the Columbia-formed band’s members – lead singer Darius Rucker, guitarist Mark Bryan, bassist Dean Felber and drummer Jim Sonefeld – regularly played golf and shows on the Strand in the 1980s and early ’90s and returned in 2003 with its event.
The Hootie & The Blowfish Monday After the Masters Celebrity Pro-Am will be played for the 25th time on April 15, and Myrtle Beach nabbed the event with a sponsorship, marketing and operations agreement after it was played in Columbia and Kiawah Island over its first eight years. It will be played at the Barefoot Resort Dye Club for the 17th consecutive year.
The tournament has brought stars and attention to the Strand, and has been symbiotic for the area and band.
Golfers Tiger Woods, Arnold Palmer, Tom Watson, John Daly, Jim Furyk, Davis Love III, Annika Sorenstam and Nancy Lopez have participated, as well as sports and entertainment stars Bill Murray, Samuel L. Jackson, John Elway and Dan Marino.
National television and radio shows have broadcast live from the tournament for several years, including ESPN’s former Mike & Mike in the Morning show for five years from 2011-15, SiriusXM Satellite Radio shows, and several Westwood One sports talk shows on CBS Sports Radio and NBC Sports Radio. A one-hour Hootie MAM highlight show has also run on Golf Channel.
The event has been hugely popular since moving to Barefoot. Spectator tickets have sold out in each of the past 12 years. Approximately half of the 6,000 adult spectator tickets are available to the general public and the others are disbursed through sponsorship packages.
Proceeds benefit the Hootie & the Blowfish Foundation, which supports educational and junior golf charities in South Carolina. The tournament has annually raised between $200,000 and $500,000, according to organizers, and the success of the event on the Grand Strand has led to the creation of a $3 million endowment.
Bryan was one of four cast members of the Golf Channel reality-type show “Road Trip: Myrtle Beach” in 2008 and was a guest on Golf Channel’s 30-minute “Golf Advisor Round Trip” travel show that premiered in November.
Johnson and the band will bring the Myrtle Beach Golf HOF membership to 27 at the Feb. 27 dinner and ceremony, which is invitation-only and $100 per person and will benefit the Project Golf initiative.
Existing members are: General James Hackler, Cecil Brandon, Clay Brittain, Carolyn Cudone, Jimmy D’Angelo, Robert White, George ‘Buster’ Bryan, Charlie Byers, Paul Himmelsbach, Gary Schaal, J. Egerton Burroughs, J.Bryan Floyd, Edward Jerdon, Casper Leon Benton, George Hilliard, Critt Gore, Russell ‘Doc’ Burgess, Sandy Miles, Phillip Goings, Edward Burroughs, Kelly Tilghman, Vernon Brake, Bob LeComte, Ed Bullock and Larry Leagans.