Convenient and affordable offering a host of distinctive layouts, Santee, S.C., has become a popular getaway for thrifty golf nuts.  Considering Santee, S.C., as a golf destination? The bottom line is this: Santee offers a wide selection of convenient, quality golf along with comfortable accommodations, a tasty variety of fixins’ and just the right amount of nightlife — all for very little damage to the checking account.

Santee National Golf Club Indeed, Santee (population 800) has become popularly known as “America’s Value Golf Destination” through the years for good reason, as it has forged a reputation as a must-stop for value-conscious golf nuts.

Located just off Interstate 95 on the south shore of picturesque Lake Marion, where a number of world records have been set through the years for large-mouth catfish and sea bass, Santee offers in one exit three lakeside golf courses, with an additional 14 layouts all within a half-hour drive.

And while the Santee price tag may appear no frills, those hoping to enjoy scenic, unhurried golf without spending lots of money, nor time in the car, will have it made. In fact, the trio of courses located in town are less than a mile apart: Santee National, Santee Cooper Resort and Lake Marion offer wide fairways, challenging greens, water hazards and impeccable maintenance, and have all been upgraded through the years. “Country-club good looks and municipal-course pricing,” gushed a recent Canadian publication.

Santee Cooper GolfMeanwhile, five of the courses are a little more than a smooth 4-iron away on the north side of Lake Marion, (20 minutes), the must-plays headed by the Tom Jackson-designed Wyboo Golf Club and the Players Course at Wyboo Plantation. If those weren’t enough, with I-26 just a few more miles south down the road, golfers can make a short day trip to Charleston and play the likes of The Links at Stono Ferry, Legend Oaks, Westcott Plantation and Charleston National to name a few.

Clearly, Santee’s quality, value and convenience are a considerable part of the reason more than 50,000 golfers arrive from northern destinations each year. For as little as $60 daily (low season), they get a nice room, a round of golf with a cart on one of the area’s 17 courses — and for good measure a tasty, home-cooked breakfast to kick-start their day.

After the round — or rounds — golfers often stop by Santee Fine Wine, where they find as good a libation selection as most anywhere, along with a wide range of eclectic gifts; then back to the hotel or condo for a quick shower before heading back on the town to refuel their engines. Rest assured, they will find Santee offers a unique collection of dining and nightlife options that add plenty of small-town character.

There is Clark’s Inn and Restaurant, with its gingerbread appearance on the outside, and its classy, wood-grained bar on the inside — topped only by Clark’s famed fried chicken and cobbler specialties. Then there is Lone Star, which is more of a buffet-style eatery, while the Jack Daniels steak at Coasters Sports Bar will rival most cuts of meat along the east coast, and the fish and prime rib at Captain Kirk’s are equally tasty.

When it’s time to rest one’s head and dream of the next day’s round, Santee offers up approximately 1,200 hotel, motel and spacious villa style accommodations. A big reason why more golfers who wish to feel more appreciated on trips that are not as expensive are giving Santee a consideration — and, like many Santee visitors, returning year after year.

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Martin Armes