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Friday, September 29, 2023

The Myrtle Beach area will be inundated with some of the top college golfers in the country

Both The Dunes Golf and Beach Club and Surf Golf and Beach Club are hosting college tournaments on Monday and Tuesday.

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The Grand Strand will be teeming with collegiate golfers Monday and Tuesday as both The Dunes Golf and Beach Club and Surf Golf and Beach Club host tournaments.

Coastal Carolina is holding the 22nd annual General Hackler Championship at The Dunes Club, which will feature 84 golfers and 14 teams, including eight that are ranked in the top 50 in the country by Golfstat.com.

Appalachian State is the host of the 14-team Bash at the Beach, which has been held at the Surf Club for the past 15 years.

The top-ranked teams in the Hackler are No. 6 and reigning Hackler champion Auburn, followed by Virginia (No. 16), North Florida (34), Duke (35), Louisville (39), Liberty (41), East Tennessee (45), and South Carolina (49). 

Also joining the Chanticleers in the field are Charlotte, East Carolina, Furman, Kent State and N.C. State.

“It’s just an awesome field,” said first year CCU coach Jacob Wilner, who already has the field set for the 2024 Hackler. “It’s one of the better fields in college golf, which we’re very humbled and proud of. . . . The Dunes Club is special and the membership and community really embrace it, so I’m excited to host it and compete on our home turf.”

CCU’s 2022-23 season

The Chants have finished in the top five in three of their six tournaments this season, with a win in an event hosted by Western Carolina in the fall and fifth-place finishes in each of their two spring tournaments.

“We’re definitely trending in the right direction,” Wilner said. “I feel these guys just kind of lacked a little bit of self-confidence and we’re trying to build that up. . . . I don’t really set expectations on where we want to finish, my job is just to make sure these guys are prepared, and I feel we are.”

Wilner has a top four that is fairly solidified and has been searching for a player to lay claim to the fifth spot in the starting lineup.

The top four are senior Seth Taylor, freshman Owen Kim, Garrett Cooper and Trey Crenshaw, and they will be joined this week by sixth-year senior Tyler Gray, who recently returned from PGA Tour Canada qualifying. 

“That fifth spot has really been a revolving door and I’m really looking for someone to step up,” Wilner said. “I believe in a hot hand. I think it’s very apparent that the top four guys on our roster have proven they’re going to be in the lineup for a while. Now I just need someone to step up and show they’re ready to be in the fifth spot, because we need that fifth guy.”

Four of the five starters this week are from South Carolina high schools, with only Kim from Ontario, Canada hailing from outside the state.

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Chants playing as individuals are Holden Grigg of Myrtle Beach, Connor Bennink,Trace McDonald, Connor Newton, and Alex van Wyk.

Wilner said CCU has a two-year contract with The Dunes Club that is set to renew each year, and the tournament will transition to three 18-hole days next year.

“I look forward to keeping a good partnership and relationship with The Dunes Club,” said Wilner, a 2001 CCU grad and former four-year golf team member. “It’s a special place, it always has been to me personally.”

Wilner was the head coach at Nevada for 13 seasons and was named the 2021-22 Mountain West Conference Men’s Golf Coach of the Year after leading the Wolfpack to their fourth consecutive NCAA Regional appearance.

Several current or former PGA Tour members have won the Hackler. Past winners include Will Zalatoris, Corey Conners, Cameron Young, Henrik Norlander, Brendon de Jonge, Rhys Davies, Derek Fathauer, Matt Hill, Seamus Power, Taylor Pendrith and Matthew NeSmith.

In this year’s field, 2021 Hackler champ Nick Gabrelcik of North Florida is ranked eighth by Golfstat and Virginia freshman Ben James is 16th among a number of Hackler participants in the top 50.

The Surf Club field

The Bash At The Beach field consists of host App State, Navy, Bucknell, N.C. A&T, Connecticut, Oral Roberts, Holy Cross, Rider, Delaware, Rhode Island, N.C. Central, Utah Valley, Dayton, Maryland Eastern Shore, and Presbyterian.

“It allows folks in our region to go to the beach without having to hop on a plane, so it works out perfect,” App. State coach Alan Cress said. “The Surf Club is absolutely one of the best in the Carolinas. It’s a great old school-type of golf and the staff is amazing to work with. The superintendent has the golf course in perfect shape.”

App State finished second last year to Troy, which is not in the 2023 field.

Both tournaments are scheduled to play 36 holes on Monday and 18 on Tuesday, and both allow spectators.

The Hackler has 9 a.m. shotgun start times each day, while the Bash at the Beach begins at 9:30 a.m. Monday and will double tee on Tuesday with tee times between 8:30-10:30 a.m.

The CCU women will be participating in a local tournament later this month at the Golfweek/Any Given Tuesday Intercollegiate March 27-29 at Caledonia Golf & Fish Club in Pawleys Island.

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