82 F
Myrtle Beach
Sunday, June 16, 2024

Arnold Palmer oversaw the last major renovation. What’s in store for the King’s North Course now

Tees, greens, bunkers and other features of the layout are being redone. "For the next 30 years, we really want . . . to make sure King’s North is at the top of this market. That’s the goal of this renovation."

Must read

The last time the King’s North Course at Myrtle Beach National Golf Club got this extensive of a makeover, the King himself oversaw it.

That was in 1995-96, and Arnold Palmer’s redesign of his original layout that opened in 1973 as the North Course resulted in the addition of ‘King’s’ to its name and led to a ranking among America’s 100 Greatest Public Courses by Golf Digest.

The course closed again Monday for the start of a significant renovation that will include all greens, bunkers and tee boxes, as well as some other course features.

The project will be overseen by former Arnold Palmer Design Company lead architect Brandon Johnson, and it will be done over two summers.

The front nine is being renovated this summer, and the back nine will be done next summer. The entire course will close for this summer’s renovations, though the front nine should remain open next summer.

“We’re reimagining the golf course a little bit,” said Steve Mays, president of Founders Group International, which owns and operates Myrtle Beach National and a total of 21 Grand Strand courses.

“I think it’s just continuing the theme this course has and expanding it with the native areas and things like that. I don’t think they fully expanded the theme of this course like they could have, and Brandon Johnson sees that too. It’s going to make it a much better golf course.”

The par-5 sixth hole known as The Gambler on the King’s North Course at Myrtle Beach National Golf Club. (Golf Tourism Solutions photo)

Doing the renovations over two summers “allows us to really do the scope of the redesign we want to do,” Mays said. “For the next 30 years, we really want . . . to make sure King’s North is at the top of this market. That’s the goal of this renovation.”

FGI plans to reopen King’s North on Oct. 1.

In addition to the work on the course, which is one of three at the 54-hole property along with the West and Southcreek layouts, the original large clubhouse may be remodeled this winter. The preliminary plan is to essentially gut the interior and rebuild it with additional features such as an expanded kitchen and menu, and addition of a bar and covered outdoor seating.

King’s North changes

TifEagle ultradwarf Bermudagrass will replace Champion Bermuda on the greens, which will be enlarged, in some cases back to their original size after years of encroachment by fairway grasses, and in some cases larger than their original size.

There will be more undulations in some of the greens.

“You’re going to see some greens bring more water into play, I think there are going to be some fun pin positions and more pin positions introduced throughout the greens,” Mays said. “I think it’s going to add a lot of fun into those greens that you’ll notice when you hit into them, a lot of movement in them so you may have pin positions where you have banks you can run into and get the ball down [the pin].”

Bunkers will be redone and reshaped, and will feature a Capillary concrete system that will aid with drainage and conditioning. “Each bunker is being touched so they’re not going to be exactly the same,” Mays said.

Some tee boxes will be added to create different angles on a few holes.

Some trees – mostly pines – will likely be cut down around the course, as well as around the clubhouse to open up views of the courses from the bar and outdoor seating areas.

Native areas will become more prevalent on the course, as some will be expanded and created, and some will be drivable and replace sections of cart path.

“It’s taking some of the aspects that are already out there with the native areas and enhancing them and making them an even more consistent part of the golf course,” Mays said. “I think it’s going to be a much more visually appealing golf course than what it is now. Some of it is returning to the aspects of when it originally opened, but some of it will be new elements added to the design of the golf course.”

Some symmetrical mounding, particularly framing greens, will be leveled or lessened. “Brandon is going to take a lot of that formality out of the golf course and make it much smoother transitions,” Mays said. “The surrounds of the greens will be a lot different than when we closed [Monday].”

Advertisements - Click For Details
lombardos banner
A plaque on the tee box of the par-5 sixth hole of the King’s North Course remains amid construction. (Alan Blondin photo)

Among the King’s North Course’s notable holes are the island-green par-3 12th with a pair of bunkers to the left of the green that spell SC; the 464-yard par-4 18th hole with 40 bunkers and water to the front right of the green; and the 568-yard par-5 fifth hole known as The Gambler.

Palmer created The Gambler in 1996 when he added an island fairway that cut off a considerable amount of yardage and made it easier to reach the green in two while maintaining a fairway that curled to the left around a lake. The green was also moved left to become more of a peninsula and make the hole more risk-reward.

That hole will change a bit around the green, as a couple bunkers to the back-right of the green will be eliminated, a front bunker will be added and a second back bunker will catch some approach shots and possibly keep them from reaching the water.

Slopes will be added to the right side of the green and beyond that will funnel shots onto or toward the center of the putting surface. One of The Gambler’s three fairway bunkers will be eliminated and replaced by a large waste area. 

Areas of bulkheads lining water on the island, along the fairway and in front of the green will be repaired or replaced.

Some of the myriad of bunkers on the 18th hole will be removed during next summer’s renovations. “That hole will be changed completely,” Mays said. “If anyone wants to see all 40 bunkers, get them now.”

The par-4 18th hole on the King’s North Course at Myrtle Beach National Golf Club. (Golf Tourism Solutions photo)

Clubhouse renovations

Though plans to renovate the clubhouse aren’t finalized, Mays said it will likely be done this winter and would take an anticipated three months.

“We’ll make it a more functional clubhouse,” Mays said. “It’s a great old building but it’s not very functional. . . . Hopefully we can start that by the end of the year.”

Preliminary plans include:

_ A turn house near the front of the clubhouse serving food and beverages including hot sandwiches, hamburgers and hot dogs. “That’ll be your grab and go,” Mays said.

_ An expanded restaurant kitchen with a pizza oven and expanded dining area for both golfers and community residents.

_ A new bar backed up to windows overlooking the course.

_ Covered outdoor seating on the patio behind the bar and restaurant area.

_ More indoor space by incorporating some of the existing patio space.

“This place was built for volume, to get people in and out,” Mays said. “Golf is different now then when this was built. So it’s not just about getting people in and out. It’s about creating a good experience, and in order for people to stay the food has to be good and you have to create a great atmosphere. I think we can create it here, and still create a place that’s functional for people who need to get in and out like when you’re turning nine.”

Signs direct golfers to the King’s North first and 10th holes at Myrtle Beach National Golf Club. (Alan Blondin photo)

Mays said an existing building near the clubhouse could be used for the pro shop and food and beverage while the clubhouse is being renovated.

King’s North is the latest FGI course to shut down for improvements in recent years, with others including River Hills Golf & Country Club, Long Bay Club, the Grande Dunes Resort Course, and Pawleys Plantation.

“It seems like every one we’ve done, we’ve gotten a little bit bigger in scope in what we’re trying to do,” Mays said. “We’ve done Grande Dunes, we did the bunkers at TPC and we redid Pawleys, all to get them really at the top of this market.”

Related articles

Did You Like this Story?

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter to receive stories like this

Click ad for details

Latest article