Bay Hill is considered by many to be the headquarters for Arnold Palmer fandom but perhaps some consideration should be given to Myrtle Beach National, which features no less than 54 holes from The King. Of these three 18-hole layouts, the King's North Course is typically held in the highest esteem.
The course features perhaps the most photographed hole, named "The Gambler," in the world’s most golf-dense city. The par five hole is known for its split fairway, which allows safe players to head right toward a landing area along the lagoon, or to the left, an island fairway. From here, they can choose to make another water carry to a green that extends down at the end of a shepherd’s crook of fairway.
This won’t be the last chance to play heroic golf, however. The course also features an island green par three, and the closing hole offers no less than 40 bunkers to choose from when your shot goes awry. Although certainly stiff in terms of the hazards players will be able to find, these risks and rewards will be played from a moderate distance, stretching just more than 7,000 yards from the tips.
I played this course back in April. Very good conditions, but I think it’s worth noting how little I remember about the track considering I played it this year. The famous par 5 is fun, but I honestly enjoyed several other holes more than I did that one - that hole felt like a one trick pony. I did really enjoy the waste areas as it’s not something you encounter where I normally play.
Myrtle Beach National is home to three Arnold Palmer designs. King North is the standard bearer. The first hole is a welcoming par five. Reachable in two, easy to say and I failed miserably. The 2nd hole is much tighter and leans right. Favor left of center off the tee. Waste bunker left thru the fairway and greenside bunker right. The short 3rd leans left with a water carry. You can play it safe and hit it straight, or you can go for the green. There is about 30 yards of fairway in front of the green. From the tips probably about 260 yard carry. The 4th is a mid-yardage Florida par three. The 5th is another short par four dogleg left. There is a bunker on the inside elbow and a bunker in front of the green to act as a deterrent. We all hit lousy tee shots so it did not matter, I would suggest laying up and having a flip wedge in. The par five 6th is the signature hole and is called The Gambler, water all the way down the left. The green is a peninsula and there is an island in the water hazard left. The island is about 100 yards long and 40 yards wide. From the middle of the island to the middle of the green it is about 190 yards, but all carry. Conversely, if you play conservatively to the right, you will still have a water carry over a different water hazard to the right. While there is a generous landing area there are three fairway bunkers on the outside elbow and water left. You will not be able to get home and will hit your 2nd shot to set up your preferred wedge yardage. Three of us went left and two resulted in eagle putts, which resulted in only one birdie. The conservative player blocked his first drive into the water right, made the adjustment and hooked the 2nd into the water left. Interesting, fun hole. The 7th is a long dogleg left. Tee off over a large waste bunker that ends up running down the left side. Favor the right side off the tee to avoid trees this green is tucked behind a water hazard. The 8th is another mid-distance Florida par three. The 9th is a long difficult par four. Waste bunkers on both sides.
The back also starts off with a welcoming par 5. The 11th leans a wee bit right and is the longest par 4, not sure why it is ranked the #11 handicap hole. The 12th is a fun hole. The shortest par 3 and an island green. There are two bunkers on the island shaped as the letters SC. The 13th is a dogleg left with a large landing area with a BAB front right. The 14th is a tough S shape par four with waste bunker on the left. Favor the right of the tee, water does sneak in on the right side. The 15th tilts left with a waste bunker all the way down the left. Fairway bunker on the right and water hazard right also. The 16th is a straight away par four, carry a waste bunker that runs down the left side. The green is right behind a bunker and tucked behind a water hazard. The 17th is another Florida par three. The 18th is a long difficult par four. There are about 30 bunkers on the left side, half of that on the right and a water hazard right.
An interesting course with a couple of unique holes. I would pay to paly it again.
The island fairway on the Par 5 is unique, but be long and straight to tempt it.
There are so many top courses in the Myrtle beach area that they each have to offer something unique to get the golfers in. Kings North offers The Gambler a classic risk and reward Par 5 well worth the visit just to test yourself - will you drive over the water onto the island fairway leaving 200yds over the water again to the green or will you plot your way round and try for the birdie the other route?