King’s North at Myrtle Beach National to Undergo Two-Year Renovation, Reimagining Arnold Palmer’s Classic Design

No. 12 at King’s North at Myrtle Beach National

King’s North at Myrtle Beach National, an Arnold Palmer design that has long been one of the Grand Strand’s bedrock layouts, closed on June 3 to begin a comprehensive, two-part, two-year renovation project.

Founders Group International (FGI), Myrtle Beach National’s parent company, selected Brandon Johnson Golf Course Design to oversee a project that will transform the venerable course. Brandon Johnson worked for Arnold Palmer Golf Design for more than 17 years, ensuring Palmer’s vision for the King’s North is maintained while modernizing a design that last enjoyed an overhaul in 1996.

Phase one, which will focus entirely on the front nine, will last four months – King’s North will reopen October 1 – and the highlights of the project will include:

* The greens at King’s North will be renovated and restored to their original size, reclaiming 30,000 square feet of putting surface, an expansion that will make them 36 percent larger, while adding pin positions that were eliminated by encroachment over the years. The new greens will feature TifEagle ultradwarf bermudagrass, a hearty strain that has performed exceedingly well in Myrtle Beach’s subtropical climate.

* Every bunker on the course will be renovated and have Capillary Concrete bunker liners installed, eliminating washout and drastically improving drainage, both factors that will significantly enhance playability. Premium bunker sand will also be installed.

* There will be significant changes to the layout as well, with an emphasis on reimagining the green surrounds. Many of King’s North’s current greens are framed by mounding that limits creativity on the approach and recovery shots. When the course reopens, players will be greeted by a layout that can be attacked through the air and along the ground.

King’s North has always enjoyed a rugged look, showcasing waste bunkers and the area’s naturally sandy soil, and Johnson will lean into that aesthetic as he remakes the course. Among the holes that will be getting significant makeovers will be No. 6, the iconic par 5 otherwise known as “The Gambler.” In addition to some technical work along the edges of the lake, one of “The Gambler’s” three fairway bunkers will be eliminated and replaced by a large waste area that will improve the look of the hole and the challenge.

“We are looking to honor some of the things Mr. Palmer was trying to achieve here,” Johnson said. “He always wanted his courses to be fun to play and pleasing to the eye and that’s what this course is, but there are some strategic and playability elements we can add to enhance the experience. We are looking to build upon what’s here by using the existing contours and landforms more effectively and incorporate them into everyday play.”

“King’s North has long been one of Myrtle Beach’s most popular and recognizable courses, and we are looking forward to working with Brandon Johnson to ensure that continues to be the case,” said Steve Mays, president of Founders Group International. “Brandon understands Arnold Palmer’s architectural vision as well as anyone, so he is the ideal person to ensure King’s North maintains the architectural integrity of Arnie’s original design while delivering an even better experience going forward.”

The second stage of the project will begin in the summer of 2025 and include an overhaul of the back nine. Additionally, the Myrtle Beach National clubhouse will enjoy a renovation, enhancing the dining experience, in the near future.

King’s North was last renovated in 1996 when Palmer oversaw a complete redesign of what was previously called the North Course. The layout shot to the top of the list of Myrtle Beach’s best designs and was ranked among America’s 100 Greatest Public Courses by Golf Digest.

The renovation of King’s North is the latest in a string of investments by FGI in its family of courses. In the summer of 2023, FGI commissioned a comprehensive greens, bunkers and clubhouse restoration project at Pawleys Plantation, highlighting the company’s commitment to providing the best golf vacation experience possible.

FGI owns 21 Myrtle Beach area courses and has undertaken significant capital improvement projects on 12 of them in recent years, including Grande Dunes, Pine Lakes and TPC Myrtle Beach.