On the second stop of Charlie’s Myrtle Beach National journey, “The Big Timer” is tracking a birdie opportunity (and exotic wildlife) at the par-4 15th hole on the West Course. Let’s see how Charlie does in the pursuit of both!
Cancer knocked me down, but not out. Now, I’m cancer free. The recovery? It’s been tough. I’ll need patience, a lot of humor …
(Somebody clapped. I heard him!)
… And support from friends and family. Over the last two years, I haven’t played much golf, but there’s no better place to get back in the game than on 66 courses in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. We’re keeping score, but just teeing it up means I’ve already won!
(That’s why they call me “The BIIIIIIIIIIG TIMER!”)
Join me on my journey to break par!
This might be the toughest shot on the West Course here at Myrtle Beach National. You better find the fairway here because there’s plenty of water left and lots of trees tucked close on the right. The green is guarded on both sides. Check out that false front. Hope my iron game is on point because I’m going to need it!
We’re at Myrtle Beach National today. Smack dab in the middle of Myrtle Beach. I love coming out here. This is a 54-hole facility. It’s got not one, not two, but three Arnold Palmer golf courses, SouthCreek, King’s North, and today we’re on the West Course. Now, the West Course has a different feel than the other two. You come out here, and there’s not a single piece of real estate out here. You’re in this just beautiful spot: some wonderful ponds, creeks, great pine forest. See a little bit of wildlife out here as well.
This is the 15th hole. It’s a pretty good opportunity for birdie if you can keep it in play. Got a penalty area to the left. Penalty area to the right. I’m going to see if I can split those two. Good one here. Might even get a chance to go in with a little wedge. Hang on right there. All right. We’re good.
It’s really hard not to think about Arnold Palmer when you come out to Myrtle Beach National. I mean, 54 holes here that he did. Being a gold professional/a PGA member, he’s the first person that made golf cool. All of us in this industry really owe Mr. Palmer a debt of gratitude. I was fortunate I got to spend a decent amount of time with him, especially when I was at Golf Channel. He was one of the founders of Golf Channel. But the last time I saw Mr. Palmer, he did this really cool fundraiser every year where supporters would come in from really all over the world. They would come to Bay Hill and play golf at Bay Hill, do a dinner, get on a really cool charter plane, and fly from Orlando to Latrobe and land at Arnold Palmer Regional Airport. We’d play at Latrobe and wrap things up.
His last few years, he asked me to emcee the event. He just wasn’t really up to or had the strength to get up in front of a bunch of people. It was a real honor to do that. A couple of times, I’d ask him to come over. Eye contact. He would come over and speak a few words. The last few years, we worked out some hand signals. The last few years, he didn’t feel like coming over. The last time I saw him, I wrapped things up. That day was really special because the president of Golf Channel had asked me to give Mr. Palmer his birthday present, which was a signed pin flag from the Olympics in Rio.
Mr. Palmer loved the fact that golf got back in the Olympics. It was signed by every player in the field. I got to do an interview with him and hand him this really cool signed pin flag. I knew he wasn’t doing well, but it was just a couple of weeks after that that he passed. But the last time I saw him, he had his table that he sat at at Latrobe. I was on the way out. He looked and said, “Hey.” He gave me that famous thumbs-up. He said, “You did good. Thank you.” Those were the last words I heard from Mr. Palmer. Those are words I’ll never forget. But he was certainly something special. Again, coming here to Myrtle Beach National, where he designed all three of these golf courses, is always a cool thing for me.
Y’all check this out. There’s all kinds of critters around here. Can you see this? I got critter tracks right here. Yeah. I think this is like a gator or a turtle or something who walked across this fairway. Critter tracks. Goes from that pond to that pond right by my golf ball. You never know what you’re going to see around here!
Yeah. Look at there. I think that’s gator tracks. Well, let’s see what we got here. 165. That’s a little seven iron, I think. Giddy up, baby. Well, I’m just going to have to show you a little short game.
Lesson time. I got a long bunker shot here. I got three wedges in my bag. I got a 50, a 54, and a 60. They’ve all got 13 degrees to bounce. That’s plenty of bounce. With a long bunker shot, I don’t want to swing at it very hard. I’m going with the 50. That’ll let that ball come out a little bit lower. Run some. The big thing is I don’t have to swing as hard at it. If I were trying to hit this 35-yard bunker shot with that lob wedge and I caught a little thin, be out of here. Touch them all.
The cool thing about it is I don’t really make any adjustments. I just hit the same shot I would hit if I was hitting my 60. Don’t have to fly it all the way back there. We would get a little bit of run. Launch it low. Just a much more comfortable shot.
Run a little bit. Get on back there. Yeah, that’ll do, as good as I’m going to do today. I think I’ll probably have to get a little rub down today. My right wrist is cramping a little bit from all the bunkers I’ve had to rake today. That dew is going to slow things down a little bit.
Now, here’s something. Check out this dew trail. Y’all come on in here and check this out. You can really learn a lot when you come out and putt on the dew. See, I was trying to start that ball about a cup out on the right. This trail shows me, “Hey, I started it about where I wanted. I just didn’t play enough break.” It’s really cool. It’s like one of those shot tracers when you watch golf on TV. You can learn a lot by watching that, too. But you come out when there’s some dew on the greens. You can learn a lot about your putting then, too.
We made a bogey. If I learned a little bit about my putting, I need to play more break. I’m not pulling everything like I thought. I’m getting really good at raking bunkers.
Well, that wasn’t what we hoped for on this hole. Got to get past it ’cause “The King” has a big decision for me to make in our final stop at Myrtle Beach National!