When Hugh Royer III was looking to start his South Carolina Golf Center teaching facility in the Myrtle Beach area, he knew he "wanted to make it a place for (students) to practice and hang out," he says. "Somewhere they could get away from the chaos."
He found that place at Shaftesbury Glen Golf & Fish Club, just 10 miles on US 905 north from downtown Conway - and just 10 minutes from Royer's home off US 501, via SC highways 31 and 22. It's a world away from the Grand Strand's hustle and bustle but still close enough to lure tourists and locals.
The new 1,800-square-foot SC Golf Center, built in the same style as Shaftesbury Glen's clubhouse, has all the bells and whistles of a top training facility - two indoor hitting bays, 16 feet by 16 feet and 16 by 14; launch monitors, video equipment - plus a large driving range and a 2,500-square-foot chipping/putting green. Oh, and also Royer's favorite element: quiet.
"It's not typical," the 50-year-old former PGA Tour player says. "We'll have a deck with rocking chairs, a couch and TV (inside). I want to create an atmosphere where you can practice, but also sit and relax."
Also within the facility is a pro shop stocked with merchandise by Nike, Royer's longtime sponsor, while food and beverages are available, provided by the clubhouse's bar and grill. For out-of-towners, Shaftesbury Glen has five luxury suites located on the clubhouse's second floor.
Royer, who played 14 years professionally including three on the PGA Tour, opened a golf school at Long Bay Golf Club in 2007, specializing in teaching juniors. He decided to try playing again in 2010, competing on the NGA Tour, but by 2013 he had had enough and decided to partner with Al Hogan (a longtime Myrtle Beach entrepreneur who took lessons from Royer) to start a new school.
When the two visited Shaftesbury Glen, with its Clyde Johnston-designed course and facilities, they found a fit with owners Paul and Jack Himmelsbach. "It was a no-brainer," Royer says. He recently added two instructors in Nate McDonough and former University of Texas player Thys Runia.
Royer teaches 8-10 students per day, youngsters and adults, in peak season. That number includes Lexington's Haley Cleary and Pittsburgh resident Johnna Beehner, each among the top junior girls in her respective state, who both commute to visit Royer for lessons.
He's been working with juniors since 2001 and has an impressive list of past pupils: Ai Kai Kim, winner of the US Junior Girls, and PGA Tour players Kevin Kisner, Scott Brown and Kris Blanks. His lesson prices range from $60/hour (five lessons for $240) for kids to $100/hour for adults ($75 for locals).
Royer comes by his teaching talents naturally. His father Hugh Jr., who died in September at age 78, was a legendary professional at Callaway Gardens in Georgia and also began the Columbus State University golf program and coached it to the 1979 NCAA Division II title. "He's in every Georgia sports hall of fame," Royer says. The elder Royer also won the PGA Tour's 1970 Western Open; when Hugh III won the 1987 Western Amateur in 1987, they became the only father-son champions in Western Golf Association history.
With his resume as a player and teacher, Hugh Royer III hopes students will make the slightly longer drive to see him. "I want to make it worth the trip for them," he says. For information, email email@example.com, call 843.369.3112 or visit scgolfcenter.com. The center is at 951 Shaftesbury Lane, Conway.