MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. | Last fall, our two resident experts, Chris King and Ian Guerin, took each other to task over two of Arnold Palmer’s local designs – Myrtle Beach National’s King’s North and Rivers Edge.
Now, they’re taking on Palmer’s other two Grand Strand layouts.
Myrtle Beach National’s West and SouthCreek courses have been delivering the goods for some time. They’ve each gained a massive local following while being bolstered by out-of-town play from those who have discovered the benefits of sharing a site with the esteemed King’s North.
Let’s hear which of the two “little brothers” King and Guerin like more.
Ian Guerin: Chris, let’s change this up some. And by that, I mean I’m not going to let you pick first. I’ll come right out and say it: West has earned as much of my time as any course up and down the Strand. There’s extensive reason for that. It’s super player friendly, lets you cruise around and won’t penalize you for fair play. Basically, I play well here – always. You’re up, my fellow follicly challenged friend.
Chris King: I’ll gladly take SouthCreek, (pictured above) which is too often the forgotten course at Myrtle Beach National. King’s North is the most acclaimed of the trio and who doesn’t love the West Course, (pictured right) which is the area’s easiest, according to the USGA. That leaves SouthCreek somewhere in the middle, challenging players without overwhelming them.
IG: I’m not going to disagree with you about the relative ease of the West. It’s a great track to try out new irons (actually just did this myself) or work on some touch on the driver (did that too last year). There is basically just one forced carry throughout – on No. 16 – and the rest of the green grass lays out a direct approach that players can truly appreciate.
CK: SouthCreek is a great second-day course. It’s the shortest of the three layouts at MBN but an assortment of doglegs and fairways that are a little tighter than its sister courses place a premium on accuracy off the tee. Of course, my favorite hole is the Par 5 10th, a dogleg right that plays around a lake and is reminiscent of the famed 13th hole at the Dunes Club. The drive and second shot on No. 10 are always nervy ones for me!
IG: No. 10 at SouthCreek is probably the site of my greatest golf achievement. Decent drive, cut it over the water to a few feet and hit the eagle putt. Made all the better by the archaic three-wood I was using at the time. For double-tee days, SouthCreek’s tenth hole can be a bit too much to start off on, though. That’s a big part of the reason I prefer West. On both Nos. 1 and 10 here, you still open with a Par 5, but both are more manageable. Either way, you still knock out one of your big dogs early and then can really get into a rhythm on a stack of Par 4s.
CK: You’ve eagled No. 10 and SouthCreek isn’t your choice?! The site of my first eagle will immediately shoot to the top of my list of favorite courses! The 10th is a challenging start to the back nine but it’s followed by a short Par 4 and sets the tone for a back half of the round that I really enjoy.
IG: That’s because you didn’t see the rest of the round (Hint: it wasn’t pretty). That was years ago, and my game has improved significantly. It allows to me look for those fine details that I was otherwise missing or not putting much credence into. At West, it’s the finishing hole, a rare Par 3.
CK: A Par 3 closer isn’t common but it certainly works at the West Course. As far as finishing holes go, I love the Par 4 18th at SouthCreek. It’s a dogleg left with a green fronted by a deep bunker you don’t want to be in, making the final approach a dramatic one. More than a few matches have been lost in the bottom of that bunker. Regardless of your preference, what makes Myrtle Beach National so enjoyable is the way the courses, including King’s North, complement one another. You could build a trip around those three courses and go home happy.