It’s not often that the King, Arnold Palmer, shows up on site at one of his redesigns, but the King’s North Course at Myrtle Beach National is an exception to the rule. King’s North originally opened in 1973 and underwent a total facelift in 1996 and has been delighting – and frustrating- golfers of all abilities ever since.
A lot of dirt was moved in 1996 to create this masterpiece, over 400,000 cubic yards to be exact. Lakes were redesigned and in some cases enlarged, as were many bunkers and greens. New “Crenshaw” bent grass greens were installed and thousands of azaleas were planted. Over 600 hardwood trees were incorporated around the layout to compliment the Carolina pines forest that the course runs through. Water can be seen on all holes and is in play on about 16 of them. Waste bunkers guard the peripheries of many fairways and greens are well guarded, especially in front, meaning you have to fly the ball onto many of them.
King’s North has been lauded with accolades since its redesign. In 1996, the course was recognized as one of America’s Best New Courses. In 2004, King’s North made its way onto Golf Digest’s prestigious list of “America’s 100 Greatest Public Courses and has been rated 4.5 stars as one of their “Places to Play” ever since! It’s female friendly too; from 2000-2004, Golf for Women has ranked it in their list of “Top 100 Courses in America.”
All three courses at Myrtle Beach National operate out of a single clubhouse that features a fully stocked pro shop with logoed gear, a bar/restaurant as well as men’s and women’s locker rooms complete with showers; perfect for freshening up after that last minute round before catching a flight home. There’s also a full length driving range, a short game area and massive practice putting green; plenty of opportunity to warm up, so no excuses please!
Most Memorable Hole: Number 6: Par 5, 525 yards. “The Gambler”. This is one hole that grabs your attention – quickly. Standing on the tee, you have a choice to make: play your shot out to the right like all the other golfing lemmings or be a gambler and play for the fairway green. If you have a fair amount of confidence in your driver, I advise you to go for it Roy! A good drive will leave a little over 200 yards of carry to the green. Although it requires two well struck shots, The Gambler route cuts off a significant amount of distance and adds one of the best risk/reward opportunities on The Grand Strand.
Favorite Par 3: Number 12, 129 yards. The King has his own island hole and if you look closely, the bunkers will tell you what state you’re in (SC)! This hole plays almost the identical yardage as #17 at Sawgrass, with much the same carry over water. Miss the green right and it’s wet; miss the green left and, if you clear the water, you’re in the sand. The green slopes left to right and leaves an interesting bunker shot on left pin placements. Par is a good score here.
Favorite Par 4: Number 18: 395 yards. A close runner up for most memorable hole. Water on the right side can come into play on well struck tee shots and with more than 25 traps guarding the left side from tee to green, the left is no sure bet either. Hit a great drive, and you’re still left with a formidable challenge to find the green in regulation. Play this hole without finding the sand and you’ve accomplished something. Make par or better and you’ve accomplished something far greater.
Favorite Par 5: Number 15, 497 yards. The number 1 handicap and with good reason. The narrow fairway is guarded down the entire left side by trees, so if a draw is in your shot repertoire, now’s the time to use it. Be careful not to hit your layup shot out too far right, as water comes into play. Large bunkers front the green, so take enough club to carry it onto the green.
Last Word: Arnold Palmer’s King’s North Course at Myrtle Beach National is a must play no matter how good or bad you think you re. The 6th hole, aptly dubbed The Gambler, is one of the most exciting – and rewarding if executed correctly – golf holes on the Grand Strand. Choosing the right sets of tees to play from on this course is a must if you want to have fun and score well. Try and bite off more than you can chew and the course will have you for lunch!