Located adjacent to the campus of Coastal Carolina University in Conway, South Carolina lies the General James Hackler Course at Coastal Carolina University. The Hackler Golf Course is the only course on the Grand Strand’s affiliated with any university. The course is operated by CCU’s PGA Golf Management program, one of only 20 university programs accredited by the PGA of America and is maintained by Horry/Georgetown Technical College’s Sports Turf Management Program. These kids do a great job of running and maintaining a golf course.
Across the street from the clubhouse is the practice facility which is one of the area’s best. It includes a grass driving range, practice sand bunker and a 3,000 square-foot putting green. There is also a 3-hole short game area to help you sharpen your short game before your round. If you’re looking to improve your game, there is also a learning center as well as the opportunity for video instruction.
Hackler Golf Club plays 6,886 yards from the back tees to a par of 72. From here, the course rating is 73.4 with a slope of 130. I found the White Tees at 6,392 yards to be more suited to my game and still provide a challenge. Choosing the right set of tees to play from goes a long way in determining your enjoyment on The Hackler. Despite its university setting, The Hackler Golf Club is open to the public.
Several years ago, the course underwent a massive renovation project to bring it up to par with other championship layouts on the Grand Strand. The 2011 renovation included the installation of new MiniVerde Bermuda grass greens; more recently, a new drainage system has been installed on the first hole.
Most Memorable Hole: Number 18, Par 4, 340 yards. Who says a hole has to be long to be remembered? At only 340 yards from the white tees, you might be better off leaving the driver in the bag. It’s about 250 yards to the lone tree by the water, any farther and you’re in trouble. Slightly short of the water leaves a pitch shot of about 100 yards and this is where the fun begins. The green is long and narrow, with lots of undulation creating a few different tiers. The middle right is sort of hollowed out and slopes back to the water. Miss it here and you’ll be looking at an uphill chip or putt from down near the water – if the mowers haven’t been out!
Favorite Par 3: Number 10, 137 yards. This fairly short par 3 plays over water to a multi-tiered green. It takes the right club off the tee to get it close. A single bunker guards the left side of the green and catches a lot of balls hit that way. Par is a good score here.
Favorite Par 4: Number 3, 391 yards. Saying that Number 3 is a dogleg right is like saying your wife is sort of pregnant; it’s more of a right turn. Making it to the corner requires a great drive and if you can hug the right side, all the better. From there, you’ll be looking at a short chip shot to set up a birdie. Just be sure to clear the large bunker in the front right.
Favorite Par 5: Number 11, 490 yards. Another dogleg at a 90-degree angle! It will take two good shots to reach the corner and there is very little benefit to trying to cut the corner. Your best bet at birdie is to chip it close and make a putt.
Last Word: In order to score well on this course, it’s best to have a good short game from about 120 yards and less as none of the greens has more than one bunker around it. Depending upon pin placement, the senior-friendly bump and run shot may be a viable option on a number of holes as well.
The General James Hackler Golf Course at Coastal Carolina University is a work in progress. According to Assistant Golf Professional Joe Marosz, plans are under way to lengthen the course and attract an NCCA tournament. To their credit, drop areas are clearly marked all over the course and the grounds crew has done an exceptional job at keeping the greens in excellent condition. Some of the tee boxes were spotty – another area of concern that is in the process of being rectified according to Marosz.
Hackler Golf Course is going to appeal to higher handicappers and newbies as opposed to seasoned golfers: I’m afraid the latter might not find it as challenging. After all, you gotta start somewhere and this is a great course to do so. For more information, visit their website at www.coastal.edu/hacklercourse.