Story by Ian Guerin
For all of the talk of some of the imposing longer holes at Myrtle Beach National’s King’s North, the course’s four par 3s more than hold their own with an identity firmly planted in Arnold Palmer’s image.
All four include a thought-provoking approach, complete with the normal attachments of sand or trees or picturesque backgrounds. But maybe more noticeable than anything is the prevalence of water.
Whether it is on No. 4, 8, 12 or 17, the par 3s at King’s North are begging players to do what most can’t.
“Most people would probably think it gives it a shorter appearance. But it gives it a scarier appearance, more in the same,” said Jim McCleery, a club fitter from Waverly, Ohio. “So you might under club or under swing to steer it where you want it to go. The reality is you need to trust your distance and trust your swing if you want to land on the green. When you have water in the way, you’ve got to ignore what it looks like and go with what it marks to.”
McCleery was making his first trek to the course in more than a decade. Quickly, he recognized exactly how different those par 3s were than most of the rounds he’s played on both coasts in the past several years.
“Anything that provides you a challenge but doesn’t make you want to go home, I’m all for. “I think it’s great. One, you get to bust on your buddy if he doesn’t get it on there. No. 2, you look like a hero if you get it on.”
At King’s North, that’s easier said than done.
OPEN AND WINDY
The opening par 3 matches a lengthy side-to-side green with the prevailing winds that have a tendency to not match those on the tee box. Therein lies the hassle players face at No. 4. Although most visitors will have just 107 yards to go from the tee box, across some water and to the middle of the green, those winds have wreaked havoc on scorecards for decades as more and more trees are cleared from the area due to housing projects, storms or general maintenance. As the years go by, the hole gets more difficult.
BANKED AND BAKED
The longest of King’s North short holes plays like it, with the back tees hoisting it up from 190 yards. That may not seem like much, except that clearing the water here is only one-half of the problem when going after the pin. The oversized green is sandwiched by bunkers on either side and significant mounding deep. Getting on the green is no guarantee of a birdie or even a par, but given the alternative, players can’t help but feel like they’ve accomplished something significant by doing just that.
ISLE OF TROUBLE
The island green at No. 12 is so dynamically placed that most players don’t notice the “S” and “C” shaped sand traps just to the left of the green. The crafting of those creates plenty of problems for those who find them – the snaking design can be a pain to get out of. But there are scores of players daily who would likely trade their shot for others that land in the sand.
With 360 degrees of water around the green and the slightly thicker-cut grass surrounding it, missing in any direction turns a two-putt par into a bogey or double in a hurry.
The final par 3 of the day, No. 17, plays off the visual elements more than than the previous three. The massive waste bunker than starts on the front right of the green wraps all the way around to the left. Moreover, there is no separation from that sand into the water that separates another waster bunker and the tee boxes.
Oddly enough, that greenside bunker is one of the two “safe” places to miss. Long equates to a downward sloping hill feeding into the green that – you guessed it – slopes right down into that bunker.