I have exhibited at or attended well over a hundred golf and travel shows across Canada and the north east United States and have yet to find a better valued golf destination.
You tell me! Where else can you go to stay and play 18 holes of golf with a power cart, overnight accommodation and continental breakfast for $59 USD? In my own backyard, green fees alone start at $59 and that’s without a cart let alone food and a room to flop in.
Every golfer that I have ever met who has traveled knows that South Carolina is a great winter getaway. Myrtle Beach is definitely the most recognized and visited golf destination for Canadians. However as I can attest to there are many other regions of South Carolina that you need to explore and Santee is certainly one of them.
I have been asked thousands of time by golfers where would I recommend they go south to golf. There obviously is no simple answer but when I probe to see what they actually need, often the answer is “warm weather, clean accommodations, good golf and nearby restaurants”. If you are looking for an inexpensive golf destination where you can get away from the glaring neon lights, congested traffic, all-you-can-hold-down buffets and milling tourists to truly concentrate on your passion, look no further.
For a population of just under 800 people there certainly is a lot to see and do here. For starters, there are 3 golf courses right in town, 5 more that are less than 20 minutes away and 12 others that within 40 a minute drive. If you want to take an afternoon off from golf, there is world-class fishing on Lake Marion and Moultrie Lake where you can catch striped and largemouth bass, crappie, bream and some of the largest catfish that you have ever seen. They also have bike trails, hiking paths, canoe and kayak rentals if you want to explore the 450 miles of coastline that these two lakes have to offer. And there is a Factory Outlet Mall here if you feel compelled to add to your wardrobe.
Santee offers 9 clean and comfortable motels, hotels and inns to choose from, each within stumbling distance to the bars and restaurants. If you like the concept of having your own kitchen and living area where you and your playing partners can relax together with all the comforts of home, there are 2 and 3-bedroom villas available at Lake Marion, Chapel Creek and Ballard Pointe that all back onto golf courses. Imagine being able to walk from your room to the first tee.
There are over 25 restaurants and bars to choose from depending on your particular preference and budget. Here are some of my favorites:
Coasters Bar & Grille is a great après golf hangout that serves up $2 drafts during Happy Hour. This Cajun roadhouse style restaurant and sports bar also prepares southern dishes like fried alligator, seafood gumbo, blacked shrimp, pecan crusted sea bass and a Jack Daniels Steak, which I swear is the best damn steak I ever tasted. My mouth is watering just thinking about it.
Captain Kirk’s Steak & Seafood Grille is most famous for their prime rib dinner but make sure you tempt yourself to some of the freshly prepared fish dishes that come either, blackened, fired or broiled.
Clark’s Restaurant & Pub is another popular gathering spot for golfers wanting to quench their thirst and reminisce about their game in an Old English style décor. Clark’s Restaurant is one of the only white table cloth establishments that serves up an amazing filet mignon with bourbon glaze and equally tasty mango pecan roast pork but make sure you keep room for Clark’s famous selection of home-made desserts.
By far the most popular courses are:
Lake Marion Golf Club – located in the heart of Santee and walking distance to most accommodations. This par 72 stretches out to 6,670 yards from the tips was rated as 3½ stars by Golf Digest. Lake Marion offers generous pine tree-lined fairways, five water hazards and 47 bunkers to test your accuracy.
Santee Cooper Country Club – Lake Marion’s sister course and only a few hundred yards down the street. Another 3 ½ star par 72 that is serenely tucked into the tall pines and flowering Craig Myrtle trees.
Santee National Golf Club – about 1 km away and boasts being a 4 star Golf Digest rated course. A par 72 reaching 6858 yards with a rolling terrain that meanders through tall pines and mossy live oaks and encompasses five lakes.
Other nearby courses to consider:
All of the tee blocks, fairways and greens are over-seeded on these courses so you can be assured of lush green all year round. Plus you can buy a hot dog and 6 cans of beer packed on ice in a cooler for about $10. AND if you want to play an extra 18 holes that’ll cost you $10. How can you go wrong? As I have told many others “if you can’t afford to go to Santee you can’t afford to go away”.
I will challenge your golf friends to see if they have ever heard of Santee and you’ll be surprised at the number who have been there or know someone who has and loved it.
Santee is located on Interstate 95 near I-77 which are both major driving routes for eastern North Americans and less than an hour drive to both the Charleston and Columbia Airports.
For more information on Golf in Santee, call 1-800-250-3080 or visit www.santeetourism.com
By Dave Finn (dave @ golfinn.com)