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I Spy: Chuck Johns and golf course staff tackle course cleanup

by Trepiccione

In his 11 years at the Hackler Golf Course at Coastal Carolina University, Chuck Johns has had his share of challenges, but none quite as daunting as the grueling cleanup that was required after Hurricane Matthew. In October 2016, the Myrtle Beach area got hit with a category 1 hurricane that affected most of the southeastern coast of the United States. The Hackler Golf Course lost more than 200 trees from the storm, and it was up to Johns and the golf course operations staff to get the course back in playing condition.

“Ittook five days to get the course back into playing condition,” Johns says. The property was not completely rid of the fallen trees until nearly a month and a half later. Four maintenance employees and seven others worked together to remove the trees that would interfere with the play of the game.

Sandy Baldridge-Adrian nominated Johns, general manager of Hackler, and the golf course operations and sports turf management department staff for I Spy to recognize their quick response and overall dedication to keeping the golf course beautiful year round. “The entire staff goes above and beyond their job duties and are always pleasant and willing to help,” Baldridge-Adrian says, “and many of the guys even put their personal homes’ cleanup on hold [after the hurricane] in order to clean up the golf course.”

Johns has been the general manager of the Hackler Golf Course since July 2013.

He was previously the head golf pro and director of golf. Originally from Verona, Penn., Johns came to CCU as a business student in 2000. He graduated from the E. Craig Wall Sr. College of Business Administration in 2004 with a degree in marketing and management with a specialization in professional golf management.

His responsibilities at the golf course include budgeting, payroll, merchandising and working closely with the golf course maintenance staff. Johns also teaches beginner golf and intermediate golf courses to students and faculty at CCU who are enrolled in the physically active living skills (PALS) classes.

Johns was named the Merchandiser of the Year in the public category from the PGA Carolinas section in 2016, a region including both North and South Carolina. The PGA is split up into 41 regions across the United States, and the Merchandisers of the Year from those regions are eligible for the national award, which is announced in the summer.

The award goes to PGA professionals who exhibit skills as merchandisers in the promotion of golf. Merchandisers are recognized every year in the categories of private, public and resort.

“The award is in my name,” Johns says, “but it’s really a team effort. It’s the PGM interns and golf course staff who really interact with the customers, helping them find shirts and other merchandise in the store.”

The idea of the golf course being a team is one of Johns' favorite things about his position. “The clientele of the golf course is so different,” he says. “I get to interact with students, faculty, staff and members of the community. At a regular golf course, I would only be interacting with golfers.”

Another thing that makes the Hackler Course different from other golf courses, according to Johns, is that it is an educational facility. The PALS classes, as well as PGM classes through the Wall College of Business, are taught at the course daily. Science classes tour the golf course to do water and soil testings, and add new wildlife and trees to the course. Working at the golf course serves as another learning environment for students to get real-life experience in their future career, so most of the pro shop employees are CCU PGM student interns.

When he isn’t at the golf course, Johns enjoys spending time with his wife, Judy, who works at CCU as a photographer, and their 8-year-old daughter, Sophia. “Family time is very important to me, whether it’s a vacation or just playing around the house,” he says. Johns also enjoys doing handyman work, and says he is almost always in the middle of some sort of project at home.

Baldridge-Adrian says, “The entire staff goes above and beyond their job duties and are always pleasant and willing to help.” Not just in the face of a struggle, like Hurricane Matthew, but in their everyday positions. Thanks to Johns and his staff’s quick response time and dedication to their jobs, the Hackler Course was back online quickly after disaster struck. 

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