Course Review: Where to Attack And When To Hold On At Myrtle Beach National’s West Course

Myrtle Beach National’s West Course keeps a relatively low profile, despite being an Arnold Palmer design, but that’s what happens when you are located right beside King’s North, one of the area’s most recognizable layouts.

The West Course is most known for being one of the area’s most player-friendly designs, and that’s a deserved reputation; if you don’t score well on West, you mostly have yourself to blame.

But there is more to MBN’s first course than a chance to go low. From formidable tee shots to risk-reward decisions, this Palmer layout is fun to play. Based on a late August round, here is what you can expect at one of the area’s most value-laden tracks.

Par 3s
On a layout that isn’t particularly long – 6,114 yards from the white tees – three of the par 3s play more than 150 yards (all distances from white tees unless otherwise specified), though trouble is limited. The two front nine par 3s – No. 4 and No. 8 (pictured right) – are similar in length, with eight being the slightly riskier hole due water on the right (though in fairness, it will take a bad shot to find the bottom of the pond). Greenside bunkers are the primary obstacle to making par.

The West Course is the rare design that finishes with a par 3, and the 165-yard 18th is certainly capable of delivering the final hole drama golfers relish, featuring water that runs along the left side of the hole from tee to green.

The 13th is the shortest one-shotter, playing just 137 yards, and if you avoid the bunkers on the left, par should await.

The West Course’s par 3s don’t surrender easy birdies but conversely, there shouldn’t be many big numbers either.

(As an aside, we generally discuss courses from the perspective of the white tees, but the difficulty of the West Course’s par 3s rises exponentially from the blues, especially No. 18, which then requires a carry across water.)

Par 5s
Much of the West Course’s reputation for being “easy,” stems from its par 5s. Both sides begin with a three-shotter that is begging you to get off to a good start. The 453-yard first hole is a dogleg right; par is the expectation and if you somehow record a score worse than bogey, you have put yourself in a significant hole.

No. 6 is 482 yards and the most challenging par 5, but if you can find the fairway, good things should await. The 10th is just 465 yards, straight as an arrow, and it has plenty of width. The course’s final par 5, No. 17, (top photo) is a dogleg right that is reachable in two, particularly for players willing to challenge the dogleg.

Even for high handicappers, par is a reasonable goal on every par 5.

Par 4s
The par 4s on the West Course offer varied challenges. It’s go-time on the 321-yard second hole, a slight dogleg left that is begging players to be aggressive. By the time you arrive at the fifth tee box, the challenge stiffens on the 393-yard two-shotter, the course’s toughest hole, according to the scorecard. (pictured right)

The back nine par 4s average 371 yards, 20 yards longer than the front, but the day’s most interesting decision is on the short par 4 12th. The 90-degree dogleg left plays 338 yards but the effective length is determined by the quality of your tee shot. It’s possible to challenge the dogleg but soaring pine trees complicate the shot and introduce the possibility of a big number. The ideal tee shot will draw around the corner of the dogleg, setting up a short approach, but many can’t resist the temptation of trying to shorten the hole.

Three holes later, the 387-yard 15th presents the course’s toughest tee shot. With heavy woods on the right and water on the left, any ball that is hit offline will result in a penalty stroke, so make sure you hold your nerve. Followed by the 380-yard 16th, the stretch between holes 12 and 16, is the West’s toughest.

Bottom line: Tread water on the par 3s, attack the par 5s, and the par 4s will likely determine the quality of your score. If you are a long, accurate driver of the ball, you can attempt to overwhelm the West Course, but being in the short grass is even more important to your dreams of a career round.

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