While most of the attention by golfers in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew, which struck South Carolina in October 2016, centered on the coast, inland courses also suffered from the onslaught of heavy rains and high winds. But, like their coastal brethren, Santee Cooper Resort’s two courses and nearby Santee National took the storm’s worst and rebounded quickly.
Thanks to the work of superintendents Gene Scarborough (Santee Cooper) and Mike Holt (Santee National), all three layouts needed a week or less to return to great conditions. That enabled the courses to welcome the annual influx of traveling golfers, including large numbers of Canadians, who find Santee’s value pricing a windfall compared to some coastal resorts.
Not that the area escaped unscathed. “We lost 500 trees – 300 at the (Santee Cooper) Country Club and 200 at Lake Marion,” Scarborough says. “And we got 11 inches of rain in 24 hours. Fortunately, both courses drain well, so we were able to open Lake Marion on Sunday,” the day after Matthew struck. “We blew (debris) off the greens, tees and fairways and were ready to go. At the country club, we had the front nine open on Monday and all 18 on Tuesday.”
At Santee National, Holt says his course lost only 30 trees, but was hit by 14 inches of rain and the resulting flooding. “We were totally closed for 3½ days, and the back nine was closed for a week,” he says.
Interestingly, all three courses were prepared for their cleanup projects, Scarborough says, because the area had had to deal with a similar, if lesser, impact from Hurricane Hermine, which struck the state a glancing blow during Labor Day weekend.
“We’d had that precursor four weeks before,” Scarborough says. “So we’d already contacted the tree guys” who would remove downed timber at the courses.
Once the courses were back in business, all three courses took to the internet to spread the word to worried players with plans to visit. “Email, Facebook, some advertising,” Scarborough says. “Business died down for a couple of weeks but then it picked back up and is doing great now.”
Traffic from Canada is booming, compared to the state’s October 2015 flooding, because unlike then, Interstate 95 remained open throughout Matthew. “For what we charge, $40-$50 (with most deals including accommodations), Canadians see us as a real value,” Scarborough says.
And because both Santee entities teamed up to get their courses up and running, recovery time was kept to a minimum, both superintendents say.
“We’re in competition, but we work together,” Holt says, “even if we fight over the same customers.”
“We both told our bosses, this is the right thing to do,” Scarborough says. “We’re all in this together.”
For information on Santee golf, visit SanteeCooperGolf.com, SanteeNational.com and SanteeCooperGolf/GolfCourses or call 800.448.0512 (Santee National) and 800.344.6534 (Santee Cooper CC and Lake Marion GC).