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Jack vs. Arnie: Pawleys or King’s North, Which Course Has The Better Opening Hole?

King’s North and Pawleys Plantation Golf & Country Club are two of Myrtle Beach’s most popular courses, so we decided to pit the two iconic layouts against each other, one hole at a time.

Arnold Palmer-designed King’s North is the area’s 10th ranked course, according to area PGA professionals, while Pawleys Plantation, a Jack Nicklaus layout, is No. 11.

It’s the King vs. the Golden Bear.

One of golf’s greatest rivalries can continue on your next Myrtle Beach golf trip.

Both courses begin with a par 5 and here is look at the opener for each:

King’s North
Palmer greets golfers with a gentle handshake of a par 5 (top photo), playing just 459 yards (all distances from white tees). There is water on the left but barring a snap hook, you will avoid it and the trees on the right offer plenty of room for escape. There is water on the starboard side but its’ 250+ yards from the tee box and your ball has to go through pine trees to get there. It’s not impossible to find but it’s also not likely.

Translated: the tee shot isn’t stressful.

For all but the longest of hitters, what to do on the second shot is dictated by how close you are willing to get to a trio of fairway bunkers that dot the right side of the fairway 100 yards out.

Given that the green takes a hard left at the end of the fairway and is protected by a large bunker, the right side is the preferred position to approach from, especially if the pin is set in the middle to back portion of the putting surface.

The fairway bunkers provide reason for pause because few of us want to deal with a long sand shot on the opening hole but playing from the right side minimizes the threat of the green-side bunker.

The green runs from back to front and the undulation is mild, meaning you will have every opportunity to make a putt, especially if you are below the hole.

Pawleys Plantation Golf & Country ClubPawleys Plantation Golf Club 1st Hole
The 479-yard opener (pictured right) at Pawleys Plantation presents a more significant challenge, beginning with a tee shot playing to a tighter, pine tree-lined corridor. You are going to have approximately 50 yards to land the ball and pine trees and straw await errant shots, making the possibility of an easy recovery dicey.

Laying up on your second shot isn’t without risk as a waste bunker runs along the right side over the final 130 yards and trees on the left leave little margin for error.

The kidney bean-shaped green is smallish, runs off on both sides, and features more undulation than its counterpart at King’s North, particularly a mound in the middle of the putting surface that can make getting to the top shelf difficult.

Par is an outstanding score here to start your round.

Advantage: King’s North, which rewards good shots while offering ample room for recovery. I like starting a round with a softer touch, hence the edge to Arnie on the opener.