In theory, a golf course is the same for everyone who plays it. There are 18 holes and the number of hazards are fixed, but that’s a simplistic view of a complicated game. Courses test players of varying skill levels in different ways. A challenge that horrifies a high-handicapper might be an afterthought to a single-digit player, and the opposite holds true. With that mind, we asked three players of wildly different skill levels – a pro, a mid-handicapper and a guy happy to break 100 – to provide their take on King’s North at Myrtle Beach National. As you might imagine, each saw something different in the challenge presented by one of Myrtle Beach’s most popular courses.
Name: Brad Crumling
Occupation: PGA Head Golf Professional World Tour Golf Links
Handicap: 0 – PGA Professional
Toughest Hole(s) on The Course & Why: I may be different than most people, but I struggle on #5 and #14. On #5, it’s difficult to choose the right club off the tee and the right angle to aim at. Even if you do hit the fairway, an enormously deep bunker stands in between you and a very skinny green. On #14, the driving area is deceptively small, as a miss left is impossible to hit the green and a miss right is either blocked by a huge tree or in the water.
Best Hole(s) to Make Birdie & Why: The obvious answers are #1 and #10, as they are par 5’s that are certainly reachable in two. However, for a low handicapper, #3 is certainly a birdie hole. A long driver can hit their tee shot right toward the green and leave a short pitch shot in.
This Design Suits My Game Because: This course is a perfect risk reward golf course and I like to “go for it”. There are certainly birdies to be made on this course if you’re playing good golf. There is no more perfect place to have a hole named, “The Gambler.”
This Design Does Not Suit My Game Because: A lot of the holes work right to left and my ball flight is normally left to right. So, if my game is not working well that day, it turns into a long afternoon for me.
Overall Impressions of This Golf Course: When you play most courses, you’ll normally have 1 or 2 holes that are memorable and you will never forget. This course legitimately has 4 holes that will be forever imprinted in your brain. The drivable Par 4, #3, is picturesque and a perfect risk reward hole. “The Gambler”, #6, is probably the most scenic and photographed hole in the entire MB area. The short 12th hole, with its iconic “SC” bunkers and island green is unforgettable. Lastly, the 18th hole finishes your round with 42 bunkers to conquer. I challenge anyone to name another course with so many memorable holes.
Name: Nate DeWitt
Occupation: Marketing Manager, Myrtle Beach Golf Trips.com
Toughest Hole(s) on The Course & Why: The par five sixth hole known as “The Gambler” obviously gets the most attention on this golf course because of its options off the tee. For that very reason in my opinion makes it the most difficult hole. I laugh because each time I play the Gambler if two members of my foursome finish the hole it’s a small accomplishment. The island fairway is by no means easy to hit and once you get there the second shot has to be precise as the green isn’t very deep.(I’ve airmailed it many times making sure to take enough club) In my opinion if you are not a single digit handicapper that can hit a solid mid to long iron to a narrow green (second shot), you have no business trying to reach this green in two, so why donate a ball to the pond off the tee? The long way (I call it the “land fairway route”) needs to be something off the tee you can hit straight (you’re not going for it in two anyhow so might as well put it play right?) a mid iron lay-up from this fairway and a short approach in will give you the best to chance to at least finish the hole.
Best Hole(s) to Make Birdie & Why: Your best opportunity to make birdie is out of the gate whether you start on the 1st or 10th holes (double tee) Pretty generous off the tee on both of these holes and in my opinion the par five starting holes were Palmer’s way of letting you ease into your round. The other two par fives on the course aren’t easy birdie holes (see toughest hole above) and the 15th is no picnic, tough tee shot and a difficult green with tricky greenside bunkers that do a good job guarding the green.
This Design Suits My Game Because: It’s a wash for me. Have had some good rounds here. Years ago (many, many) when I was a club professional I made 17 straight pars one day and bogeyed the 18th–but have also had some tough days here. I find it difficult to read the greens and they can be tricky with some difficult pin placements. I like the par threes a lot and feel confident on the tee as they seem “downhill” to me which tends to give me confidence, albeit you’re hitting over water on all of them
This Design Does Not Suit My Game Because: See Above!
Overall Impressions of This Golf Course: This is a must-play and is one of Myrtle Beach’s most fun designs to experience. The par threes are fantastic and some of the best holes on the course are not often talked about–The 3rd and 5th which are both short par fours, the par four 7th and 14th holes just to name a few. The 18th hole featuring 43 bunkers gets a lot of attention but unless you hit it off the planet bunkers on the left don’t come in to play. Something I won’t forget is Arnold Palmer playing his design at the grand opening in 1995. He was playing really well (and playing the back tees that play over 7,000 yards) He took several stabs at trying to reach this 464 yard finishing hole in two with his 5- wood but plunked about 3 in the H20 short of the green. The scorecard on display in the clubhouse I believe is marked as a par or bogey, but that wasn’t the case.
Name: Chris King
Occupation: Golf Writer/Marketing
USGA Handicap: 20
Toughest Hole(s) on The Course & Why: If I can survive holes 13, 14 and 15 a good score should await. Thirteen and 14 are longish (380 yards) dogleg lefts where I have a tendency to push the ball right, a miss that lengthens both holes. They are followed by the 487-yard, par 5 15th, which features a skinny waste bunker and woods running up the left side. I’ve stepped on this tee box to many times knowing a miss right isn’t bad … only hook the ball into the woods! It’s a fatal miss and seems to set me on a path to double or worse. I walk on egg shells during this stretch.
Best Hole(s) to Make Birdie & Why: Can we change this to “make par?!” For a man of my limited skill, birdies only come around 3 or 4 times year, but there are three holes at King’s North that offer a better than average chance at par for us hackers. The first (437 yards) and 10th (461 yards) holes are short par 5s with limited trouble. Based on the length, you can hit one indifferent shot en route to the green and still have an opportunity to be on in regulation. The other golden opportunity is the 107-yard fourth hole. You have to carry water but the hole short and the green is easy to hit and hold. You need to take advantage of these three holes.
This Design Does Not Suit My Game Because: There is room off the tee and while some of the course’s most famous holes – The Gambler and the island green par 3 12 – have water, difficult forced carries are a minimum. If you are hitting the ball reasonably well, you will have a chance to score at King’s North and that’s all you can ask for.
This Design Does Not Suit My Game Because: With the exception of 13-15, King’s North suits my game as well as any course can. I’m not skilled enough to play a particular type of shot. I’m trying to hit the ball mostly straight and in play. King’s North provides every opportunity to do so.
Overall Impressions of This Golf Course: This is one of my favorites. King’s North is fun and you always remember holes “The Gambler” and the 43 bunkers on No. 18. In addition to being one of the area’s most recognizable courses, King’s North is the type of layout I like to play as often as possible, which isn’t the case with all courses, even highly regarded ones.