That's also a huge "hook" for golf in the town of Santee. You come, you stay, you play three solid courses over a weekend - and you almost don't have to start your car.
Of course, the Santee-Cooper area surrounding this small but bustling town is a terrific vacation destination for all sorts of lake-centric recreation: boating, fishing, waterskiing, you name it. But for a trio of courses within driver range of each other that offer different looks and strategies - and won't break your budget - it's hard to beat Santee National, Santee Cooper Country Club and Lake Marion Golf Course.
Santee is easily accessible from Columbia or, if you're visiting South Carolina from the Northeast, just minutes off Interstate 95. With a selection of motels, villas and restaurants, shopping and water sports and, of course, golf, this is a relaxing destination for everyone.
And if Santee's trio isn't enough golf for you, there are more than a dozen other area layouts to choose from. For now, let's take a quick look at what's right outside your motel-room door.
This is the newest of the town's three courses and, driving the 30-40 minutes from Columbia, the first you'll see, situated along Old Number Six Highway (I-95 is just a few miles further). Designed by Porter Gibson, Santee National's rolling hills and moss-draped oaks create an almost highland atmosphere. Golf Digest ranks it four stars (of five) in its "Places to Play."
Recent renovations include newly shaped bunkers and smooth Champion Bermuda greens. Water comes into play on nine holes, and at 6,858 yards (par-72) from the back tees, it's also the longest of the three town courses.
William Bullard can arrange for lessons, or simply send you on your way to the first tee. The course is Sky Caddie GPS-accessible, and also offers a full-service pro shop, driving range and "The Grill at Santee National."
For more information, call (803) 854-3531 or go to www.santeenational.com.
Santee Cooper Country Club
A classic lake course designed by noted architect George Cobb, Santee Cooper is the area's oldest course, having opened in 1967, and measures 6,589 yards from its back tees (par-72). Its selling point is its scenic beauty, with pine forests lining the 419 Bermuda fairways and speedy Miniverde Bermuda greens.
Cobb was a fan of dogleg holes and strategic bunkering, as well as difficult par-3 holes balanced by risk-reward par-5s. Santee Cooper also has some significant elevation changes and concludes with a dramatic closing hole featuring a panoramic view of Lake Marion.
For more information, call (803) 854-2467 or click here.
Lake Marion Golf Course
Not far from its sister course, Lake Marion is a 1978 design by Eddie Riccoboni that - like Santee Cooper Country Club - has 419 Bermuda fairways and slick Miniverde Bermuda greens. It also serves as the unofficial "greeter" for visitors, since the course can be seen from I-95.
With pine-lined fairways, several holes bordering on Lake Marion and 47 bunkers scattered across its 6,474 yards (back tees), the course is playable for all skill levels. Before or after a round, a lighted driving range is available.
Nearby, the Lake Marion Golf Villas overlook the course and are within walking distance of the club and the range. Since opening in the spring of 2006, the 24 villas - which have two double bedrooms each, measure 1,250 square feet on average and have kitchens, three cable-equipped TVs, washer and dryer, outdoor patio/grilling station and complimentary Wi-Fi - make for a convenient location for weekend stays.
Call (800) 344-6534 or click here.
In addition, staffers at Lake Marion, Santee Cooper and Santee National can design golf packages starting at $55 a day, with tee times available at such nearby courses as Manning's Wyboo Golf Club, Shannon Greens and Players Course at Wyboo, along with courses in Orangeburg, St. Matthews, Sumter and even as far away as Summerville.
For information on tee times and packages, call (800) 344-6534, or go to www.santeecoopergolf.com.