It has been a few years since its conception and the location has changed, but instructor and former PGA Tour player Hugh Royer III is thankful to be finally opening the South Carolina Golf Center at Shaftesbury Golf & Fish Club in Conway.
A ribbon-cutting will be part of a family-friendly grand opening from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday.
The center is built on the range in the style of the Shaftesbury Glen clubhouse and features a pair of hitting bays, V-1 Digital Coaching System computer swing analysis, a pro shop with Nike equipment and attire, an office, a couch and television, and wraparound deck with chairs and tables.
The left side of the driving range is being extended, and this spring a 2,500-square-foot green, and a short-game area with a pitching and chipping area, green and bunker is planned. Range memberships are planned.
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“We want to be able to offer people something that’s not around,” Royer said. “It’s a place people can come, hang out and get away from all the other chaos.”
The grand opening celebration will include demos by Nike and TaylorMade, closest to the pin and turkey shoot golf contests, a children’s putting contest, prizes, and tour of the facility.
Prizes include a free range membership at the center, free golf at Shaftesbury Glen, free golf lessons, restaurant gift certificates and more. Money raised will benefit the South Carolina Junior Golf Association.
Recent Burning Ridge Golf Club teaching pro Nate McDonough and Texas-born former mini-tour player Warren “Thys” Runia will assist Royer with instruction at the center.
“We’re creating a team to where we can do this and build this business and do something different that’s not just the typical golf school you’ll see in Myrtle Beach, but something that has atmosphere and will be fun for folks,” Royer said. “If you get done practicing late one afternoon and want to sit around and have a beer . . . they can sit around and watch football and hang out.”
Royer is opening the center with the help of investor Al Hogan of Conway. They hoped to build the S.C. Golf Center for a spring 2013 opening on approximately 13.5 acres off East Cox Ferry Road in Conway between U.S. 501 and S.C. 90, but they were unable to secure the proper approvals and permitting for the land.
Royer provided instruction out of Burning Ridge and Wild Wing Plantation for a short time before finding a home at Shaftesbury Glen about 18 months ago. He’s since been working on getting the center opened there, working out of a large tent on the driving range in the meantime.
Though Royer is open to instructing anyone, he has been featuring instruction to juniors and touring pros. His passion is junior golf. “That’s what drives me is teaching kids,” Royer said. “I just enjoy it.”
Royer began teaching in 2001 at the International Junior Golf Academy in Hilton Head Island, and I.K. Kim won the U.S. Girls Junior Championship under his tutelage. He helped numerous juniors receive college scholarships there also.
His current students include Kate Cleary of Lexington, who recently won The Blade Junior.
“The thing I think I can offer that not many do is we can go out on the golf course and I can teach them how to manage and play the game, not just hit a ball and see what happens,” Royer said. “It’s learning how to manage your golf game and score.”
Royer largely learned to teach from his father, former PGA Tour player and Callaway Gardens (Ga.) Country Club pro Hugh Royer Jr., who died at the age of 78 on Sept. 12. Royer III left Hilton Head for the Grand Strand to open his own teaching facility, which he did at Long Bay Club in 2008.
Royer gave playing another shot in an attempt to prepare for the Champions Tour and played on the NGA Hooters Tour – now SwingThought.com Tour – and Web.com Tour for a couple years before his financial sponsor was lost.
Hogan discussed starting up a golf center with him, and Royer had to build his student clientele back up following the playing period. “When I started back playing that [teaching] of all went south,” Royer said.
Royer believes he has a lot to offer touring pros and aspiring PGA Tour players because of his knowledge and experience, and he’s currently instructing a few mini-tour players.
He helped former Myrtle Beach resident Kris Blanks, Kevin Kisner of Aiken and Scott Brown of North Augusta reach the PGA Tour.
Royer said he and Hogan are working in concert with and leasing land from course owners and brothers Paul and Jack Himmelsbach. They are collaborating to have shootouts, couples tournaments and other events to drive traffic to both the course and learning center.
Golfers can play Shaftesbury Glen after 1 p.m. Saturday for cart fee by calling the pro shop at 843-369-1800 and referencing the grand opening event.
A community provider
According to a survey conducted by Clemson University’s International Institute for Tourism Research and Development, the PGA Tour’s RBC Heritage held each April at Harbour Town Golf Links in Hilton Head Island had a total output attributable to visitor spending of $96.142 million during the 2014 tournament week.
Visitor spending data was collected during the seven-day event using an iPad-based survey. With help from the University of South Carolina at Beaufort's Department of Hospitality Management, 1,474 spectators completed the survey.
In addition to visitor spending, spending data was collected from players and caddies, the Heritage Classic Foundation, and several sponsors and local businesses. The Regional Economic Analysis Laboratory at Clemson used the data to estimate the economic impacts of the tournament on the Beaufort County economy. Impacts were calculated using the IMPLAN Economic Modeling System.
Researchers measured the economic activity and impact estimates in four ways: direct spending (estimate of actual expenditures by visitors and the foundation): $75.691 million; jobs (number of jobs supported by economic activity): 1,178; net state and local government revenues (taxes and other fees generated by economic activity, minus expenses incurred): $6.95 million; and total output (total impact, including direct, indirect and induced effects): $96.142 million.
This survey was the fifth conducted for the Heritage Classic Foundation. Adjusting all of the surveys to 2005 dollars shows the tournament has steadily increased its impact on South Carolina’s economy. In 2005 dollars, the tournament had an impact of $52.33 million in 1999, $79.91 million in 2005, $74.317 million in 2010, and $82.975 million in 2014.
Till bogey do us part
If you’re looking for a tournament to play with your significant other, the fourth annual Couples Golf Tournament sponsored by CustonShirtZone.com will be held at 1 p.m. Sunday at Man O’War Golf Club.
The event has a two-person captain’s choice format and the field is limited to 72 players. An entry fee of $40 per player includes awards for gross and net winners and numerous raffle prizes. Registration fees will be refunded if the event is canceled due to weather.