South Carolina Tourism - Hole 08

Hole 8, Dream 18

No., 6, King's North at Myrtle Beach National
– By Michael Burnside, PGA Head Professional

"I didn’t drive all the way down here to Myrtle Beach just to lay up!"

So goes the most often heard words on the 6th tee of "The Gambler," our famous par-five on the King’s North course. Designed by possibly golf’s ultimate gambler, Arnold Palmer, the 6th hole is THE signature hole on a course that we proudly say could have half a dozen signature holes.

There is a sign that you’ll see as you pull up to the tee box that introduces our 6th hole as the greatest par 5 in the world and then quotes the lyrics to Kenny Rogers’ famous song: "You’ve got to know when to hold them, know when to fold them…" Never have a song and a golf hole been more perfectly matched.

Except for one small detail, the hole plays like any other great par five. It’s a fairly long par five that doglegs to the left around water. The green is wide but not that deep, it’s protected well by bunkers and water and has two distinct tiers which make distance control critical if you want a makeable putt at birdie. The fairway is actually kind of narrow, with bunkers and trees to avoid on the right – and water on the left - and laying up to a good distance for your approach is critical in order to not only find the green, but the correct area of the green. There is no easy shot on this hole.

But maybe 5 percent of the golfers who come here are looking at that route. Because that one small detail is our island fairway, about fifty yards wide, about 100 yards long. If you find it off the tee, you’ve cut off anywhere from 30 to 70 yards off the hole.

Now I can’t stress enough, just because you find the island, doesn’t mean you’re automatically going for the green in two. Several times per day, I watch golfers hit the island off the tee, realize they have more than they have in their bag (maybe 215 to 220 yards that’s all carry to the green) and lay up again to the right. But more often than not, for those that find the island fairway, it means going for the green with their second shot. A perfect shot off the tee (about 250 yards from the tips) will get up near the front edge and leave you 150 yards or so to the green. The further back you are, the more risk you take. Factor in the always present wind, the sand behind the green, the water that sits in front, to the left and behind and the shallow target, and just choosing the right club is going to be one of the most difficult decisions of your day. There is no miss on this route, either you are spectacular or you are in big trouble. I can tell you that the water level around the green rises considerably by the end of the day.

But that’s the beauty of this hole. Those who pull it off are looking at an eagle or birdie, those that don’t, are looking at a big number. But everyone who plays it will remember it as one of the highlights of their trip to Myrtle Beach. Virtually every golfer who plays here, whether they make 3 or 10, always has a nice word for us after their round about the hole. As difficult as it can be, it’s incredibly fair. And fun. What else could you ask for in a golf hole? I hope everyone has a chance to visit us at Myrtle Beach National, one of the true gems of the Grand Strand, and see for themselves.