Clyde graduated in 1973 from North Carolina State University with a Bachelor of Environmental Design in Landscape Architecture.
Clyde is the son of PGA golf professional and former golf coach at Wake Forest College, C.B. "Johnny" Johnston. Clyde spent his youth playing golf as well as working on the golf course maintenance staff at his father's golf course. He became interested in golf course design by watching his father design and build several courses while in grade school. Clyde Johnston pursued a career in golf course design first by attending and graduating with a degree in Landscape Architecture from North Carolina State University in 1973. From there Johnston apprenticed under several golf course architects before the formation of Clyde Johnston Designs, Inc.,