King and Bear: The Two Golf Legends Have Left Lasting Marks on Myrtle Beach Golf

Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus — two of the most recognizable names in the history of golf. And this is true not just because of their combined 25 major championships and 210 combined worldwide professional wins. Part of the reason why their names will live on in the minds and memories of golfers is because of their “second careers” — serving as award-winning golf course architects. And they have both left their mark on the Myrtle Beach golf scene.

Arnold Palmer — 4 Myrtle Beach Course Designs

The quartet of golf courses attached to “The King” comprise all parts of the range of layouts available to Myrtle Beach locals and visitors, from the championship-caliber to the user-friendly.

At the less-taxing end of the spectrum are two of the three courses at the world-famous Myrtle Beach National complex. There’s the West Course, designed by Palmer in conjunction with longtime collaborator Francis Duane. With no houses interfering with play, golf is the sole focus at this layout, which measures less than 6,900 yards from the tips. It provides a relaxing round for less-skilled players as well, as forced carries and encounters with water hazards are kept to a minimum. One place where water must be negotiated, however, is at the long par-3 18th hole, which is one of the most famous single holes in Myrtle Beach.

Myrtle Beach National’s SouthCreek Course is another Palmer/Duane joint effort and is the shortest of Myrtle Beach National’s three courses, measuring just over 6,416 yards from the back tees. But it’s no pushover — narrow fairways and small greens combine to provide a thorough test of a player’s powers of course management and accuracy.

Completing the scene at Myrtle Beach National is the vaunted King’s North Course, a Palmer classic. With a number of the Grand Strand’s most iconic holes, this course ups the challenge but also the fun. Perhaps the most famous of the course’s holes is “The Gambler,” the unforgettable par-5 6th hole, where players who dare to hit their tee shots onto an island left-hand fairway in the middle of a lake will be rewarded with a chance to reach the green in two shots with as little as a mid-iron.

Palmer’s fourth Myrtle Beach-area design is one of its northernmost: Rivers Edge Golf Club in Shallotte, North Carolina. It is somewhat remote but well worth the trip, boasting a number of holes where tidal marshes along the Shallotte River come into play. Its most memorable hole is the 9th, a three-shot par-5 whose long, narrow green juts out into the wetlands, demanding an accurate approach.

Jack Nicklaus — 2 Myrtle Beach Course Designs

Jack Nicklaus has just two Grand Strand designs to his credit, but their quality makes up for any possible scarcity in numbers. Both built around 1990, they are products of the era in which they were built: tough, demanding and distinctive.

Nicklaus’ first foray into the area golf scene was in 1988, with the opening of Pawleys Plantation Golf & Country Club in Pawleys Island. Much like Rivers Edge, Pawleys Plantation features a number of marshland encounters. The most memorable of these is the par-3 13th, whose tee boxes sit on the long, narrow structure of a former cotton dike and whose green is almost completely surrounded by marsh. Pawleys Plantation was recently named one of the top 50 courses — public or private — in the entire state of South Carolina by the South Carolina Golf Course Ratings Panel.

A couple years after the success of Pawleys Plantation, the Golden Bear was lured back to the Myrtle Beach area — this time, to its northern end — to build Long Bay Club. Located a few miles inland, Long Bay does not boast the long-range views for which Pawleys Plantation is renowned, but it makes up for this with a challenging, varied mix of 18 holes. There is not a “throwaway” hole in the bunch. In fact, like Pawleys Plantation, Long Bay has an island-green par-3 of its own, also at hole 13. Two holes later, a short risk-reward par-5 presents players with a very real chance to make an eagle … or a double bogey.

As long-reigning-champion professional golfers who have designed hundreds of golf courses combined, both Palmer and Nicklaus understand what makes individual golf holes and whole golf courses fun and memorable. As a result, their Myrtle Beach-area courses endure as some of the most sought-after by visitors and locals alike.

Be sure to book tee times at any of these great courses at!

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