Class is always in session on the General James Hackler Golf Course at Coastal Carolina University
CONWAY, S.C. -- Every one of the 90-plus golf courses located on South Carolina's Grand Strand strive to set themselves apart.
The ones that don't have shown a proclivity to struggle.
The General James Hackler Golf Course at Coastal Carolina University -- just a short drive from Myrtle Beach -- won't have to worry about that any time soon.
The Hackler, recently redesigned and renamed (it was formerly Quail Creek), has at its disposal scores of college kids dedicated to doing whatever it takes to crack into the business.
Be it CCU's Professional Golf Management students, who operate the course, or the neighboring Horry Georgetown Technical College Sports Turf Management students, who maintain it, they have done wonders for the perception and playability of a golf course that is not exactly new to the area.
"The biggest factors in going there are the price," said Myrtle Beach resident Bob Doyle, a CCU graduate who has played the course about 20 times. "You get a good deal for the price, especially locals, and the fact that it is CCU-owned, [I] would rather have my money go to them."
Doyle said about five of his trips to the course came before a 2011 redesign. It wasn't a favorite of his -- he even said that he often thought of it as "a dump."
Following the course corrections and re-assertion into the Grand Strand golf scene, however, Doyle considers it anything but that now.
General James Hackler Golf Course: The layout
At 6,400 yards from the white tees, the Hackler isn't an exceptionally long course, even if it feels that way after the first hole.
The No. 1 handicap on the course, the first hole measures 547 yards with a slight dogleg right. And while the distance itself is pretty much relegated to that opening hole, the doglegs are a staple.
Those looking for the changes from the previous design and ownership get those on No. 2.
"We shrunk the green and moved it closer to the water," said Chuck Johns, head professional at the Hackler.
Greens and bunkers have been updated, with the former now including a Bermuda Mini Verdi strain. Many of the greens were undulated. In total 66 bunkers were removed, and the ones left on the course were improved in terms of drainage and sand quality.
The updates continue through No. 18, which has grown in popularity since the redesign. The green on the 340-yard par 4 was moved up about 50 yards.
It gives players a strong hole to finish a round.
"The 18th hole makes me want to come back," Doyle said. "I love the approach shot to the green over water and all the undulation on the green."
General James Hackler Course: Facilities and instruction
The Hackler includes an adjacent all-grass driving range, oversized putting green capable of holding plenty of players and a "short-game" set-up to hit all facets of your pre-round needs.
The full-service clubhouse is complete with a pro shop (with plenty of Coastal Carolina gear), snack bar and seating area.
Johns and Assistant Professional Matt Roberts each teach classes, which include discounts for juniors (with an accompanying adult).
Whether it comes from a simple check-in to instruction or any other part of a trip to the Hackler, the student influence can be felt.
"We strive to have good customer service knowing that my staff are all future PGA Professionals," Johns said. "Most of my staff has great experience from completing three- to seven-month internships from courses around the world. Students bring a lot of knowledge and service from different golf course experiences."
General James Hackler Golf Course: The verdict
Regardless of the name change, the Hackler is the eighth-oldest course on the Grand Strand.
The good news is that it certainly isn't going anywhere. The course has weathered its toughest stretch and now it has a redesign and a new approach.
The course has approximately 270 members, although roughly 85 percent of those are Professional Golf Management students. That means there's plenty of room for growth, and for fast play. A recent round took less than three hours.
It's another part of the appeal for the new course with the youthful ties.