Masters 2020: 15 Things You Need To Know About Dustin Johnson

By Stephen Hennessey

Dustin Johnson is one of the biggest stars in golf, and he added to his already impressive legacy with his second major title at the 2020 Masters. Though DJ is in his 13th season on tour, he's always been reluctant to let people in—so you might not know everything about the 36-year-old. Here are a few things you might not know about him.


1. DJ’s swing is mostly self-taught
Dustin grew up watching the swings of other golfers at Weed Hill Driving Range in Columbia, S.C.,and applied it to his own game. His father, Scott, was a club pro, and took DJ to the range when he was 6. “Little DJ had a swing with rhythm and tempo, and he could hit the fool out of the ball,” facility operator and teaching pro Jimmy Koosa told us in 2015.


Dustin's father, Scott Johnson, was a South Carolina All-State wide receiver for tiny Chapin High School
That explains part of DJ’s athleticism. In addition, DJ’s grandfather, Art Whisnant, is a former All-ACC basketball player at South Carolina. Johnson can dunk easily, and beat former NBA pro Shane Battier in a three-point shooting contest in 2015.

His peers not only vote Johnson as the most talented golfer on tour, but also the most athletic
In our 2015 survey, Dustin Johnson narrowly edged out Gary Woodland as the most athletic golfer on tour.


His grandma played a huge part in choosing Coastal Carolina for college
DJ’s paternal grandmother, Carole Jones, called Coastal Carolina men’s golf coach Allen Terrell to explain how badly Dustin wanted to play college golf. DJ was going to Midlands Technical College in Columbia to make up credits, but after the call from Johnson's grandma, Terrell went to Coastal Carolina’s president, explained the situation and got him into school.


A distinct swing characteristic: Johnson’s bowed wrist
Johnson has always had a bowed left wrist at the top of his backswing. His clubface is typically shut to the target line, which might be a no-no to conventional golf instruction, but as Butch Harmon said in a 2012 article in Golf Digest: “That’s his thing. We don’t touch it.” To offset the bowed wrist, Johnson turns powerfully through the ball.

Dustin’s coach is Butch Harmon’s son, Claude Harmon III
His swing isn’t completely homegrown. DJ worked a lot on his posture, setup and balance in college. He worked a lot on making his swing more efficient with Butch Harmon, and now works with Butch’s son, Claude Harmon III.

Johnson has a win in his first 13 straight seasons
Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer are the only other players to do so. Not bad company.


Dustin Johnson's prolific distance
Dustin Johnson has been ranked inside the top 10 of driving distance on the PGA Tour in each of his 13 seasons, leading the category in 2015.

Johnson has endured some bizarre rules scenarios in his career
He nearly won the 2010 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits, but was hit with a two-shot penalty for grounding his club in a waste bunker. He missed a playoff with Martin Kaymer and Bubba Watson by two shots.

DJ’s younger brother, Austin, is his caddie
Austin Johnson has caddied for brother, Dustin, since 2013, when he filled in for DJ’s previous caddie, Bobby Brown. The duo won the WGC-HSBC Champions and they’ve been a duo ever since. DJ also had Joe LaCava, Tiger Woods' current caddie, on the bag for a period. Austin affectionally refers to Dustin as “Chia Pet,” for being able to grow a beard within a week. We saw Austin tear up on the green after DJ holed his final putt to secure the 2020 Masters.


Johnson's engaged to Paulina Gretzky
Paulina, daughter of the Great One, Wayne Gretzky, have two sons: 5-year-old son, Tatum Gretzky Johnson, and 3-year-old River Jones Johnson.

Johnson's impressive bounceback in 2016
Prior to his 2016 U.S. Open victory, Johnson's major history was most notable for his close calls—with heartbreaking defeats at Pebble Beach, Whistling Straits and Chambers Bay among others. Johnson became only the fourth player ever to finish runner-up at the U.S. Open, like he did at Chambers Bay after three-putting on the 72nd hole, to then win it the next year, which he did at Oakmont. He joins only Bobby Jones, Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods as the only other players to follow up a second-place at a U.S. Open with a win the next year.

Johnson took a leave of absence from golf in 2014
He announced his decision was to "seek professional help for personal challenges.” cited unnamed sources that Johnson had been suspended for failing a third drug test. Johnson denies those reports and cites off-course stress perpetuated his excessive drinking and partying.


Johnson had his share of off-the-course trouble when he was younger
At age 16, DJ was convicted of second-degree burglary of a handgun in a 2001 incident. He was later pardoned. In 2009, he was arrested for DUI, which was dismissed when he pleaded guilty to reckless driving.

DJ's 2020 Masters victory elevated his résumé to historic levels
Dustin Johnson's 20-under (268) total broke the Masters scoring record by two shots as he added a second major championship. The 36-year-old will get a chance to defend his title in less than five months at the 2021 Masters.


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