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Story by Chris King
Myrtle Beach’s popularity is built on the quality and quantity of its offerings, as opposed to a defining course or two, but that doesn’t mean the area is without foundational properties. Pine Lakes, the Grand Strand’s first course, and the Dunes Club, a Robert Trent Jones Sr., design that has hosted PGA and USGA events, come immediately to mind. Somewhere near the top of any list of the Grand Strand’s most historically significant properties is Myrtle Beach National. MBN wasn’t Myrtle Beach’s first multi-course facility, but it was a groundbreaking project. When King’s North opened in 1973 it became the first course on the Highway 501 corridor, and the West Course (1974) and SouthCreek (1975) quickly followed.
With Arnold Palmer and his design team leading the way, MBN opened up a new era along the Grand Strand golf scene. Palmer’s presence in the market raised the bar, paving the way for other golf legends to make their mark in Myrtle Beach. Palmer returned in 1996 to again put his imprint on the property, providing a facelift to the West Course and SouthCreek and reimagining King’s North.
Palmer’s work landed King’s North a spot on Golf Digest’s list of America’s 100 Greatest Public Courses and made it one of area’s most recognizable layouts. The famed par 5 sixth hole, known as The Gambler, the island green 12th hole, and the 40+ bunkers on No. 18, are immediately recognizable to Myrtle Beach golfers. King’s North is a bucket list layout, but its appeal extends beyond its most recognizable holes. A drivable par 4 (No. 4), beach bunkers and risk-reward challenges are just some of the ingredients that make King’s North memorable.
The West Course and SouthCreek, both 4-star layouts, according to Golf Digest, are perfect complements. The West Course, which is wide open and almost completely devoid of housing, is one of the area’s most playable designs. The West Course has long been lauded for its conditioning, as all three MBN courses have been, and players enjoy the opportunity to score. SouthCreek, while no less playable, is tighter of the tee, encouraging players to be thoughtful in their approach. The course plays “only” 6,416 yards from the tips so driver isn’t required on every tee box. The challenge is straight-forward and smart players will have the opportunity to post a score they want to tell their buddies about.
Put it all together and Myrtle Beach National golf is a vital part of the Grand Strand’s rich history and equally important component of its future.