Golf

CCU hoping to secure The Dunes Club for Hackler Championship in 2017 and beyond

South Carolina's Matthew NeSmith checks the line of his putt on the 18th green during the final round of Coastal Carolina's General Hackler Championship at The Dunes Golf and Beach Club in Myrtle Beach on Sunday.
South Carolina's Matthew NeSmith checks the line of his putt on the 18th green during the final round of Coastal Carolina's General Hackler Championship at The Dunes Golf and Beach Club in Myrtle Beach on Sunday. For The Sun News

With demand to play in the General Hackler Championship college golf tournament expected to increase among the top men’s programs in the region and nation, host Coastal Carolina now hopes to secure its coveted location for a few years.

The tournament was held at the TPC Myrtle Beach for the bulk of its first 13 years and moved to The Dunes Club last year, where it was held for a second year on Saturday and Sunday, and where Coastal Carolina men’s golf coach Kevin McPherson would like to keep it.

Coastal Carolina would love to have a long-term commitment from The Dunes Club to host the tournament and establish consistent weekend dates in March.

We tell everybody to save the dates with this being a possibility and just wait to get a call from us. I think if we can have it on the weekend we can have one of the best fields in the country.

Coastal Carolina men’s golf coach Kevin McPherson

The Dunes Club, which is member-owned, has a protocol for hosting events.

The club’s golf committee will meet Tuesday and discuss the tournament, and it will then have to recommend hosting the tournament to the club’s board of directors, which should make a decision on the 2017 event sometime in April.

“I think it’s wonderful exposure for The Dunes Club,” said Brian Harsha, chairman of The Dunes Club golf committee. “The committee is going to give strong consideration to it. It’s a very quality event honoring a great man and we’ve had nothing but positive comments about it, so I’m sure the board will take it under consideration.”

Nearly half of the amateur participants in the college-am that preceded the tournament on Friday were club members, and member rounds were available Sunday afternoon following the college tee times. So members were excluded from playing only on Saturday.

The earlier The Dunes Club’s decision comes the better for McPherson, as college teams are already solidifying their schedules for 2016-17 in many cases.

“We tell everybody to save the dates with this being a possibility and just wait to get a call from us,” McPherson said. “I think if we can have it on the weekend we can have one of the best fields in the country.”

This year’s field featured some of the top teams in the ACC and SEC, including winner South Carolina, runner-up Virginia and top-six finishers North Carolina, N.C. State and Texas A&M.

“It has just gotten bigger and better, especially just in the last year or two,” McPherson said. “It has stepped it up to the next level of being one of the better two-day events in the country, I think, … all because of The Dunes Club, playing it on the weekend now, and moving it off two tournaments being the Palmetto and Auburn’s event, we don’t have to compete against those events. And right here on the beach it’s awesome, it’s during spring break and everybody loves it.”

McPherson likes the dates. This past weekend, there was a concurrent tournament at Florida State and a pair of additional events in Florida and Pinehurst, N.C., that have lesser fields.

“There are always tournaments,” McPherson said. “There’s not a lot of the same teams that play at Florida State as what plays here or played at Palmetto, so we’re not really butting heads with one another.”

South Carolina coach Bill McDonald said as he accepted the team championship trophy Sunday that he plans to bring his team as long as the event exists. He cited volunteer team ambassadors, who provide live scoring for each group and assist with planning and logistics for their assigned team, as one of the nice touches the tournament provides.

“It’s a wonderful, wonderful golf course and they really do a lot of nice things for the event,” McDonald said. “It’s a really neat college golf event.”

Other coaches have expressed similar thoughts to McPherson.

“Some of these coaches, like South Carolina, say we’re going to have a nightmare on our hands, in a good way, because word is going to get out there what a quality event it is, what a quality golf course, the way that it’s run, all our sponsors, the support of The Dunes Club members, and the reputation we’re giving out,” McPherson said. “Everybody is going to want to be knocking on the door trying to get into the Hackler event now.”

Alan Blondin: 843-626-0284, @alanblondin

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