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Story by Ian Guerin
The game of golf has spent countless hours honoring Arnold Palmer, the legend who helped bring the sport to numerous generations. That hasn’t stopped since his passing in September of 2016. His King’s North design at Myrtle Beach National is another celebration of his life and contributions.
Palmer’s redesigned layout, now more than two decades old after originally taking shape in the early 1970s, has not only withstood the test of time, but also an evolution of golf that praises one adaption or the next before usually returning to something that once was applauded for its brilliance. That’s exactly what King’s North is doing once more.
“It’s everything that I’ve ever read on it,” said Bob Lent, an Ohio native taking his first crack at the course during a recent visit.
The centerpiece of Myrtle Beach National’s three-course home site, King’s North has earned the right to call itself one of South Carolina’s Grand Strand’s finest tracks. Superb playing conditions, a fantastically creative layout and the perfect combination of playability and scoring create a round of holistic bliss.
Players find two of the par 5s at the front end of both nines; the par 4s stretch from as far as 470 yards to a little as 347; and the par 3s all force a carryover healthy amounts of water. Altogether, the course plays as long as 7,000 yards from the championship tees, down to 4,816 from the forwards, giving players of all ages and skill levels the same pristine conditions throughout. Some of that can be attributed to a semi-open fairway feel from most of the tee boxes. The forgiving design isn’t available at most courses of this level. It adds a component that can alter the approach for players from one visit to the next - depending on the weather.
Everything else at King’s North, however, has certainly proved that time can’t change everything.
Multiple members of the South Carolina Golf Course Ratings Panel recently took turns tossing their best critiques of King’s North’s No. 6, better known to most as “The Gambler.” They used phrases like “one of the most famous” and “best par 5” in the Myrtle Beach area for the 568-yard par 5.
With an island fairway that allows some players a chance to reach the green in two, the hole has provided equal amounts of joy and frustration for a generation. Players can go after that left-side fairway or elect to go all the way around the regular, crescent-shaped fairway up the right. More than a fair share of golf balls go into the expansive drink. Hit or miss, though, and visitors who take the chance will be talking about it.