Myrtle Beach, South Carolina 29578
For over twenty-five years, the North Course at Myrtle Beach National was the most requested and best recognized course on the Beach. The par-3, 3rd hole with its island green and SC shaped sandtraps is the signature hole for Myrtle Beach.
In 1996, Arnold Palmer and the Palmer Design Group returned to Myrtle Beach National and transformed the North Course into a brand new course --- one of the most visually exciting and challenging courses in America. By moving over 400,000 cubic yards of dirt, adding bulkheading, 7,000 azaleas and 600 hardwood trees, enlarging lakes, bunkers and greens, and planting new "Crenshaw" bentgrass greens, Palmer created what many believe to be the finest course on the Grand Strand--King's North.
King's North features some of the most dramatic and unique holes in all of golf. The par-5, 6th hole -- nicknamed "The Gambler" -- features an island fairway which offers golfers a "risk-reward" short-cut to the green for a chance at eagle, but the two precise shots required bring to mind Kenny Rogers' song: "You've got to know when to hold 'em; Know when to fold 'em; Know when to walk away; and Know when to run."
The famed par-3 island green has been redesigned, with the addition of a wooden bulkhead to create greater definition to an enlarged green. It has retained the distinctive "SC" sandtraps. The front and back nines have been reversed, so the island green is now the 12th hole.
The 18th hole, nicknamed "The Bull's-eye" by Golf Magazine, has over 40 sandtraps guarding either side of the fairway, and the green reaches out into a lake offering a number of very tempting pin placements.
GOLF COURSE REVIEWS:
King’s North at
Myrtle Beach National
By Shane Sharp, Senior Editor
MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. – Eight years after its complete makeover, King’s North at Myrtle Beach National will have you know that its doing just fine.
The course’s immaculate bentgrass greens are still firm and true. The 43 bunkers on the par 4 18th are still sucking in duck hooks like it was their job. The par 5 sixth hole, officially known as “the Gambler” is still taunting golfers with the prospect of going for the green in two. All in all, it’s a good time to be associated with the Arnold Palmer designed layout located off Highway 501.
King’s North Notebook
MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. – The 568-yard par 5 6th hole at King’s North wasn’t always known as “The Gambler.” There was a time, about six years ago, when the hole would simply bid you good day, and send you on your way without a second thought.
These days, it causes more head scratching than a Dennis Miller soliloquy during a Monday Night Football broadcast.
Standing on the tee box, the options are two fold. Should players deem par as acceptable, and bogey as permissible, then the hole’s traditional routing to the right beckons.
If the thought of eagle or birdie is too tempting, and the possibility of a seven or eight isn’t too much to swallow, then the island fairway to the left is the way to go. Decisions, decisions.
Just what does a player need to cut the hole short and walk away with a low number? First off, an airborne drive is essential. Sounds rudimentary, but if you have issues with 150 yard plus carries, then aim right and forget about gambling.
Second, you need to take your time and figure your yardage to the left center of the island, because that is where you’ll want to be. From the tips, a 225 to 250 yard poke is ideal, so if you hit your driver a mile, or if you are playing from another forward set of tees, choose your club carefully.
Third, have faith in your decision. Myrtle Beach National Director of Golf Operations Jim Woodring says he has seen countless players pipe their drives into the drink right of the island and left of the traditional fairway just because they never truly made up their minds which way to go.
Some of the best one-shotters at the beach
Its not often that you walk away from a course praising its par 3’s, but King’s North’s one-shotters are some of the best in the business. The 180-yard 4th hole, the 190-yard 8th, the 140-yard 12th and the 160-yard 17th all require carries over water to greens tucked behind scenic bulkheading.
The best of the best has to be the 12th, which is essentially an island green. It’s the shortest of the par 3’s, but it is by no means the easiest. Shots carved to the right are afforded no bailout area, and two green side bunkers await to gobble up duck hooks.
From the “you’ve got to be kidding me department” . . .The 365 par 4 3rd hole is one of the most interesting holes at King’s North not named the Gambler. The hole plays 342 yards from the green tees and 319 yards from the whites, and some long hitters actually go for the green off the tee.
One of those big hitters is Myrtle Beach Golf Holiday’s Director of Marketing, Bill Golden. Golden didn’t hesitate to pull driver from the green tees while playing a match against a lowly golf scribe and a hotshot advertising executive. Oh and by the way, he made it with room to spare.
“I think this course is up there in the top tier of Myrtle Beach Courses,” says Myrtle Beach National Director of Golf Operations Jim Woodring. “I think we are up there with the Caledonia’s and the Tidewaters.”
King’s North underwent one of the most extravagant face-lifts in Myrtle Beach golf history back in 1996. One of three courses, the “North Course” as it was known pre-remodel, had been open for 26 years and had fallen out of favor with members and tourists.
Enter Palmer and principal design associate Ed Seay. The design tandem was charged with the task of rebuilding the tee boxes, greens, bunkers and lakes at the venerable layout, and rebuild they did.
“There is not much that is the same about this golf course,” Woodring says. “The routing is the same, but that is about it. They switched the nines, because the current 18th hole is more dramatic with its view of the clubhouse. Lakes were extended, bunkers were added and the greens are completely different.”
King’s North will not overwhelm you with its setting – the Myrtle Beach National complex is located off one of the most congested traffic arteries in the southeastern U.S. And the only time you’ll know you are anywhere near the beach is when one of King’s North’s signature coastal birds flies overhead.
Nor with it bowl you over with pomp and circumstance. The practice range still has a token operated ball machine, there are no toasted almonds on the first hole, and the clubhouse architecture is “post-Brady-family-deco.”
But visit any Myrtle Beach golf chatroom, talk to savvy locals, or confer with local head professionals, and you will hear one familiar refrain: King’s North is one of the best layouts on the beach.
“There are so many courses down here, it almost becomes a matter of preference,” Woodring said. “But people who play here time and time again, say it grows on them.”
Pebble Beach it may not be, but is it really such a stretch for King’s North to considered such a local creature comfort? Day in and day out, the track is in excellent condition. The greens, as of this playing, were approaching perfection, and that is following the annual fall verticut.
If you like a course that begs you to pull driver first, and ask questions later, you’ll find it here. If all you require for complete golf Nirvana are a few memorable holes mixed with a bevy of well-crafted, playable ones, King’s North will be your bag.
Most importantly, Woodring believes that golfers find in King’s North a course that they would be happy to play every day of the week.
When asked if Palmer and Seay left behind some kind of signature at King’s North, Woodring, pauses, glances down at one of the courses gently undulating greens, and goes into a five minute diatribe about playability.
“I think first and foremost, this course appeals to a variety of different skills levels,” Woodring says. “There are six sets of tees and it can play as hard or as easy as you want it to. It is hard to blister this course. We held the Myrtle Beach Open here last week, and only one kid came out and posted a low score in the 60’s. Even with all the room in the fairways off the tee, it can give you all you want.”
What Woodring is describing is a unique balance that King’s North has struck between challenging and fair, a combination that has won players over since it’s re-opening. Whether you start on the first or tenth hole at King’s North, you are provided with the luxury reachable par 5’s.
The No. 4 handicap first hole plays 502 yards from the tips, as is relatively devoid of trouble with the exception of a small pond about 200 yards out to the left that gobbles up duck hooks. The No. 3 handicap 10th plays 517 yards from the back tees, and begs players to favor the right side of the fairway with its sand and water on the left.
Speaking of the back tees, if you want to “see the entire course”, it will cost you around 7000 yards. If you want to own up to your true handicap, you can play from the white tees at 6024 or the green tees at 6195 and make the course that much more enjoyable.
And nowhere on the entire layout will you become more acutely aware of the course’s tee box differential than on King’s North’s locally famous 18th hole. From the back tees, the hole plays 464 yards versus 377 from the green tees. Throw in the 43 bunkers down the left side of the fairway and the lake to the right of the green and this two-shotter becomes a challenge for the King himself.
“When Arnold was out here to open the course the wind was blowing something fierce,” Woodring says. “He played from the back tees and took driver, three-wood into the green, and this was back when he was still fairly long.”