Golf

Some of the nation’s top teams and golfers are in Myrtle Beach for CCU’s Hackler event

Coastal Carolina freshman golfer Tyler Gray takes a shot down the fairway Monday during the General Hackler Championship at The Dunes Beach and Golf Club in Myrtle Beach.
Coastal Carolina freshman golfer Tyler Gray takes a shot down the fairway Monday during the General Hackler Championship at The Dunes Beach and Golf Club in Myrtle Beach. jbell@thesunnews.com

Some of the country’s top college golf programs and players are in Myrtle Beach on Monday and Tuesday for Coastal Carolina’s 18th annual General Hackler Championship at The Dunes Golf & Beach Club.

Six of the top 30 teams in Golfstat.com’s national rankings played two rounds Monday and will play the final round beginning at 8 a.m. on Tuesday.

No. 6 Wake Forest, Georgia (17), North Florida (18), Texas A&M (23), Liberty (25) and Louisville (29) are the top-ranked teams in the event.

In Golfweek’s Sagarin rankings, Wake Forest is 11th and is followed by Georgia (12), North Florida (19), Louisville (21), Liberty (26) and Texas A&M (31).

“It’s another very strong field this year,” said second-year Coastal Carolina men’s golf coach Jim Garren. “Six are in the top [29], then you’ve got some teams on the so-called NCAA bubble with us and Kent State and North Texas, so it’s a good field. It’s a good test.”

Georgia’s Trent Phillips, Wake Forest’s Eric Bae, Texas A&M’s Chandler Phillips, Louisville’s Matthias Schmid and North Florida’s Phillip Knowles are all ranked among the top 26 collegiate players by Golfstat.

The top three teams through two rounds will finish teeing off around 10 a.m. Tuesday. Spectators are welcomed for free and there is parking on site.

North Florida is at 22-under par through two rounds and leads by four shots over Liberty and Wake Forest. Coastal is ninth at 5 over.

North Florida’s Travis Trace, who made a double-eagle 2 on the par-5 15th hole Monday, has a one-stroke lead over Wake Forest’s Cameron Young at 11-under 133 in the race for medalist.

Coastal entered the tournament ranked 73rd by Golfstat and 74th in the Sagarin Rankings with a record of 2-9 against teams in the Sagarin top 25, 18-38 against top 100 teams and 40-40-1 overall through six of 10 regular season events prior to the Sun Belt Conference Championship. That record includes going 2-12 in the season-opening event in September.

Other teams in the tournament are East Carolina, East Tennessee State, Kentucky and Northern Illinois.

“I think you try to get the strongest field possible,” Garren said regarding his strategy on extending invitations to teams. “The way we’re doing our schedule now since we’ve been here, I don’t necessarily have to get to certain areas because that’s what we do in the fall season. We travel all over to play to those West Coast teams, those Big 12 teams, those kind of mountain and central teams.

“Our goal here is to get the best field we can get, plus get teams that are important to the area. We’ve got a diversified membership at The Dunes Club, we’ve got a whole lot of people in Myrtle Beach who went to schools all over the place, so we want to have the strongest field as possible, but also take care of our local support.”

Garren said the tournament will return to The Dunes Club next year for the sixth consecutive year, and he expects it to be held at the venerable Robert Trent Jones layout for the foreseeable future. The par-72 course is playing approximately 7,230 yards this week.

The Hackler was held at TPC Myrtle Beach for 11 of its first 13 years from 2002-14.

“The Dunes Club loves the event. They’re behind us 100 percent. Whatever we’re trying to do they tell us they fully support us,” Garren said.

Garren said he’s content with the dates of the Hackler. It coincides this year with the Cleveland Golf Palmetto Invitational at Palmetto Golf Club in Aiken, which features South Carolina and Clemson.

“We sit in a pretty good spot where we’re the best tournament this week strength of schedule-wise,” Garren said. “If we go a week sooner we’re battling Cabo and Vegas, if we go a week later we’re battling the Floridian (Valspar Collegiate), so we’re in a really nice spot that each year on this week we’re going to have the best field in college golf and I like that.”

Zack Taylor leads Coastal with a 72.28 stroke average over 18 rounds this year, and he is joined in CCU’s starting lineup this week by fellow junior States Fort and seniors Wes Artac, Luis Ruiz and Morgan Deneen.

“I think we’re more prepared for this go-around as opposed to last year simply because this is just another week for us now. We’ve played fields like this every single week this year so I think our guys are prepared for that,” Garren said.

The Chants played with Georgia and Texas A&M on Monday.

“I’m excited about where the team is,” Garren said. “We have beaten a whole lot of good teams. We beat three top 25 teams this year. We’ve done some nice things but the exciting part is I don’t feel like we’ve put a full team effort in yet. I don’t feel like we’ve put four scores together for three rounds yet this year, and as a coach that’s exciting because I know how good our good can be.

“. . . The teams they’ve beaten this year, the adversity they faced in the fall with the hurricane [Florence] and traveling and the golf courses we played in the fall, I think we’re in a good spot. We have to go get better but I think we’re in a pretty good spot.”

World Am entries

The 36th annual PlayGolfMyrtleBeach.com World Amateur Handicap Championship will begin accepting entries Wednesday.

More than 3,000 players from across the U.S. and more than 20 countries are expected to participate in the world’s largest single-site tournament, which will be played Aug. 26-30 on approximately 60 Grand Strand courses.

Early entry through May 16 is $535 and includes at least four rounds of golf; a gift bag that includes a Chase 54 polo, pullover, hat and PGA Tour Superstore gift card; and nightly admission to the World’s Largest 19th Hole, which features an expo, entertainment, food and drinks at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center. The entry fee will increase to $635 as the tournament approaches.

The tournament, which flights players based on age, gender and handicap, is open to all golfers 17 and older. There are also two gross divisions and a “Just For Fun” flight. Flight winners after 72 holes advance to an 18-hole shootout that determines the champion.

Players who register by April 12 will be eligible to win one of 55 random drawing prizes collectively valued at $10,000, including Cleveland wedges, Srixon golf travel bags, TaylorMade TP Collection putters, TaylorMade M4 Drivers and PeakVision LX2 Sunglasses.

Visit www.MyrtleBeachWorldAmateur.com to register or for more information.

The World Am is operated by the Golf Tourism Solutions technology and marketing agency, which is also conducting the three-day March Championship that concludes Tuesday and is being played at Barefoot Resort’s Norman Course, Brunswick Plantation, the Hackler Course at CCU, Tradition Club, Whispering Pines Golf Club and True Blue Golf Club.

The individual net stroke play event has attracted 216 players from 28 states and Canada.

Proposal postponed

A rezoning request tied to a redevelopment plan for Indian Wells Golf Club in Garden City Beach was scheduled to be presented to the Horry County Planning Commission for a second time last Thursday.

But according to planning commission chairman Steven Neeves, the applicant – course owner and operator Founders Group International through the Thomas & Hutton engineering firm – asked for a deferral until the next planning commission meeting on April 4.

“They are still trying to work out the details with their neighbors and needed more time. It will be on our April agenda,” Neeves said in a text message.

The planning commission recommended FGI’s initial rezoning request be denied by Horry County Council, and rather than vote on its first reading in January, the council chose to send the request back to the planning commission to be reworked in the hopes of appeasing residents around the course.

The initial rezoning proposal for the approximately 150-acre course included a housing development that features 512 total housing units – 255 single-family homes and 257 townhomes.

Area residents have expressed their disapproval of the redevelopment proposal both at the council meeting and in a protest on the Garden City Connector.

The property is already zoned for housing. It is zoned SF6, which is single-family housing with minimum lot sizes of 6,000 square feet. The requested rezoning is MRD2, which allows for a mixture of single-family and multifamily homes.

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Alan Blondin covers golf, Coastal Carolina athletics and numerous other sports-related topics that warrant coverage. Well-versed in all things Myrtle Beach, Horry County and the Grand Strand, the Northeastern University journalism school valedictorian has been a sports reporter at The Sun News since 1993, earning eight top-10 Associated Press Sports Editors national writing awards and 18 top-three S.C. Press Association writing awards since 2007.


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