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Myrtle Beach National: Golf the house the King built

Brandon TuckerBy Brandon Tucker,
Managing Editor
King's North at Myrtle Beach National
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King's North, the signature course at Myrtle Beach National, has multiple island greens. (Brandon Tucker/WorldGolf.com)

Any fan of golf's "King" will want to make the trip to the house that Arnie built: Myrtle Beach National, home to King's North, Arnold Palmer's signature work on the Grand Strand.

All three Myrtle Beach National golf courses were designed by Palmer's firm, led by architect Francis Duane. Palmer consulted on the layouts, most significantly on the North's mid-'90s redesign, which moved it into the top echelon of Grand Strand courses.

Palmer is on display off the course too. The clubhouse pays tribute to the King at every corner, from the bronze statue in front to photos and illustrations of Arnie at every stage of his storied career.

Here's a closer look at Myrtle Beach National's three courses.

King's North: MBN's main event, King's North is a completely different golf course since the 1996 revamp, which followed the Grand Strand progression towards modern, upscale courses.

Green fees can be up to double those on the other MBN tracks, depending on the season, but you're going to get a world-class course with great shot values and little redundancy for the money.

The most dramatic difference on the North is the heavily manicured landscape, more undulating and scenic than its siblings. It's a striking, colorful layout with something everywhere to catch your eye - island greens, vast waste bunkers, rolling mounds, flower beds, crafted waterfalls. The redesign took out many trees to let in more sunlight, which, along with the lack of houses, gives the course an expansive feel.

No. 6, aptly named "The Gambler," generates the most buzz. This par 5 offers an island fairway cut-off that allows you to go for a small, shallow green in two. The par-3 12th features one of the Strand's finest island greens.

The bunkers are bigger and more penal than on the other two MBN courses, and there are plenty of chances for high drama, but the North isn't overly difficult. There are six sets of tees, three playing to less than 6,000 yards.

Southcreek and the West course: MBN's other two tracks are similar in cost and level of challenge - they're both quite playable for mid-to-high handicappers - but they play differently in many respects.

"The difference primarily between Southcreek and the West is the tightness of the South," said Michael Burnside, the club's director of golf. "There are also homes on the South. There are no homes on the West, so a lot of people like to play the West because the fairways are wide and you're not in somebody's backyard."

Southcreek is a bit more contemporary-looking with its larger bunkers and artificial mounding (especially the collection of humps on the 18th), but the West course, with its lack of housing, feels more natural and traditional.

The West's greens are bigger and slope dramatically from back to front on most holes. The unique par-3 closer plays to a large, sloping green protected by a pond and a left-side bunker.

Both Southcreek and the West are enjoyable mid-level courses in good shape (especially the latter's greens). But you haven't really experienced MBN until you've played King's North.

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West course at Myrtle Beach National
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Brandon Tucker is the Managing Editor for Golf Advisor. To date, his golf travels have taken him to over two dozen countries and over 500 golf courses worldwide. While he's played some of the most prestigious courses in the world, Tucker's favorite way to play the game is on a great muni in under three hours. Follow Brandon on Twitter at @BrandonTucker.

 
Reader Comments / Reviews Leave a comment
  • Myrtle Beach National - West Course

    Mike Ryan wrote on: Jul 6, 2007

    over the last week, I played 10 different courses in the MB area. of the 10, MBN-West was the least interesting. It is a rather mundane course, not much more stimulating than the public course I play at home. I would skip it and try one of the other courses in the area.

    Reply