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How the Hackler Course at CCU will elevate its standing in the Myrtle Beach golf market

A new clubhouse and learning center is being constructed in addition to course improvements at the university-owned property.

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This story was originally published in July 2023

CONWAY | The Hackler Course at Coastal Carolina University is about to elevate its standing in the Myrtle Beach golf market with some course changes and improvements, and the building of a grand clubhouse that will serve as a learning facility.

A redesign of the par-4 ninth hole and the leveling and regrassing of the driving range that begins a tee renovation project are underway, and the building of a 16,000-square-foot clubhouse is expected to commence as early as next March. Reflecting its purpose, It will be called the CCU PGA Academic Learning Center at the Hackler Course.

The course has been open for 55 years and the clubhouse is believed to be the original building.

“It’s going to be fantastic,” Hackler Course general manager Chuck Johns said. “We’ve been wanting [a new clubhouse] a long time and we’re just happy that it’s happened. This is old. You can’t really do much with it.”

The project, along with a major upgrade to the university’s library, is being funded through the school’s issuing of an $11.25 million bond that will be paid off annually by 2037.

The bond is backed by the Horry County Higher Education Commission, which receives a small portion of county property tax revenue each year and has recently used funds to finance large projects on CCU’s campus.

The Hackler Course is a 6,886-yard Gene Hamm design that opened in 1968 as Quail Creek Golf Club. Local course architect Craig Schreiner oversaw a fairly extensive renovation project in 2011.

Johns has been at the course since 2005, when CCU took the course over through a lease agreement before renaming it to honor the late Gen. James Hackler and purchasing it in 2010.

The ninth hole at The Hackler Course at CCU is being redesigned to make way for a new clubhouse and learning center. (Alan Blondin photo)

Changes and upgrades

The ninth hole is being altered to make way for the new clubhouse. The slight dogleg right has a pond to the left of the fairway landing area running into a creek that crosses the fairway about 130 yards from the green.

The hole is being shortened from 402 yards to about 350 yards and the green will now be elevated behind the creek and will be 400 square feet larger.

The new ninth hole will be playable as early as October, and Johns said clubhouse construction could begin next May and the build out is expected to take 18 to 24 months.

The new two-story clubhouse is being built around the location of what has been the ninth green. The move will allow for the parking lot to be expanded, and because it’s moving to a new location, the existing clubhouse and pro shop will remain in continuous operation during construction.

A second-floor back deck of the clubhouse will overlook the ninth green with additional views of the par-3 10th hole and 18th green, and there will be a flat area of grass between the clubhouse and green where outdoor events can be held.

The bottom floor will consist of a 1,600-square-foot pro shop, offices, a storage area, a grill with a full-size bar and seating for 70 or more. The kitchen will be 800 square feet with an oven, grill and fryer, so the menu will expand greatly from what is now offered, and catering will be available for events.

The second floor will be dedicated to academics for CCU’s PGA Golf Management Program and will include classrooms, technology and equipment for simulation teaching for the swing and putting, and offices.

“The facility itself is education, so even in the golf shop where they’re ringing in customers, those kids are being educated –  internships, working with clientele and different golfers, running events,” Johns said. “So it’s not all just classroom, you’re looking for real-life experiential. It’s hands-on, so now we’re adding all the in-classroom experiences.”

Johns said he has between 15 and 25 students working at the club per year, and 90 percent are PGM students. “It depends on who we can get and their schedules,” he said.

The tee restoration project is scheduled to continue over the next 18 months, with one tee box at a time being leveled and regressed beginning with those that need the most attention. The tees are being grassed with TifTuf Bermuda rather than their current common 419 Bermuda.

The driving range has been leveled and is being regrassed at The Hackler Course. (Alan Blondin photo)

Embroidery business thriving

Johns oversees the embroidery business that operates out of the Hackler Course with a student staff and temporary staff.

In addition to the course pro shop, a Teal Nation store featuring Coastal Carolina logoed merchandise and products opened in March at Broadway at the Beach, and a second is coming to downtown Conway as early as September. The Hackler embroidery room will be providing all of the branded clothing to the stores.

An online store for CCU-logoed products is forthcoming, Johns said.

Longtime assistant pro Alex Bowers is becoming the merchandise buyer for the golf course and Teal Nation stores, and will assist with embroidery special orders.

During the height of the coronavirus pandemic, Johns took on additional embroidery contracts when there was a backlog of clothing orders for golf courses and stores, and he and his staff were able to produce logoed clothing upon order.

The ninth hole at The Hackler Course at CCU is being redesigned to make way for a new clubhouse and learning center. (Alan Blondin photo)

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