It’s time for our resident experts, Ian Guerin and Chris King, to strap up the velcro on their golf gloves and prepare for a showdown between two of the area’s most prominent courses: King’s North and Rivers Edge.
This is Arnie vs. Arnie. Which of the King’s Myrtle Beach golf courses will come out on top?
We will let Guerin and King decide.
CK: Choosing between courses can be difficult and, for me anyway, that’s certainly the case with King’s North and Rivers Edge.(pictured above) These aren’t just Palmer’s two best Grand Strand layouts, they are two of his best anywhere. I’m going to need a few minutes to think about this one, so which way are you leaning, Ian?
IG: Seeing as I’d give King’s North the nod over the vast majority of courses in and around the Myrtle Beach area, I’m going to stick to my guns in this debate, too. Recency bias of a recent round there or not, King’s North is just that good. I’ve never approached a shot – in the fairway or not – and had anything but a crisp lie awaiting me. That says an awful lot in my book.
CK: No arguments from me regarding your assessment of King’s North, which is home to some of Myrtle Beach’s most memorable holes, including The Gambler, the legendary par 5. What makes this decision difficult is that the courses are so different. King’s North, despite the presence of water, is an inland layout while Rivers Edge plays along the Shallotte River, showcasing the area’s coastal beauty. Despite better conditions at King’s North, I lean ever so slightly towards Rivers Edge and those stunning views.
IG: I’m guessing you’re struck by that – the small number of courses that also play along the Intracoastal Waterway – because of the lack of ocean holes in the Myrtle Beach golf market. I get it. It makes for an awesome look time and again. But that’s where I also think King’s North doesn’t get enough credit. The use of water creates some really cool visual effects. There are the smaller ponds that serve as little more than accents, as well as the big-impact ones. The par-3 No. 12 is one of the sweetest-looking short holes up and down the Grand Strand. And the mega pond that helps produce The Gambler (pictured right) is as dynamic as it gets.
CK: Arnie certainly made good use of water at King’s North, no arguments here, but the panoramic views at Rivers Edge are tough to beat. The par 3 eighth hole, which features the river running behind the green, and the closing three holes leave you scrambling for your phone to take pictures. Even the par 5 ninth hole at Rivers Edge is as pretty as it is controversial.
IG: You hit the nail on the head with Rivers Edge. At the same time, another aspect of King’s North that I have grown to love more and more over the years is just how straightforward it is. Anyone who plops down a couple bucks in the pro shop for a yardage book is going to dramatically improve their day because there are so many ways to succeed. Play this course two days in a row, and you may find two different methods to achieve success on the same hole.
CK: There are so many good holes at King’s North. While it’s a simple and relatively easy hole, I love the look of the short par 3, 17th. I’m sucker for a beach bunker and the green, while not difficult to hit, is large so a two-putt isn’t assured. Of course, a soft touch is always nice before challenging No. 18 and its 40+ bunkers.
IG: Fun fact: The first time I played King’s North, I hit into four different bunkers on No. 18. So much sand.
CK: Only four?! That’s one more than the number of balls I lost on the ninth at Rivers Edge!
IG: If you play long enough – or maybe not enough – you’re bound to have one of those days. Thankfully, I’m fairly confident saying I’d rather do it on courses like these more than plenty of others. Palmer certainly created a couple of gems.
CK: In a survey of Myrtle Beach PGA pros, both courses were ranked among the area’s top 20 courses, so you aren’t going to go wrong either way. King’s North is one of the area’s bedrock layouts – it’s hard to call yourself a Myrtle Beach golfer if you haven’t teed it up there! Rivers Edge, while highly regarded, doesn’t attract quite the same attention and I attribute that to its location in Shallotte. If your group is willing to log a few extra miles in the car, Rivers Edge delivers a combination of challenge and beauty golfers don’t forget.