SANTEE, S.C. -- Located right in the heart of South Carolina off the main Interstate 95 artery, Santee's golf courses receive a lot of traffic, even if they don't get as much publicity as nearby hotspots Myrtle Beach, Hilton Head and Kiawah Island.
This destination's small collection of affordable and enjoyable golf courses attracts a loyal following. Golf facilities are low key and laid back, aimed more towards the average player on a budget than the low-handicapping bucket-lister.
You won't find the names of celebrity golf course architects or eye-popping championship slope/ratings splattered on scorecards, but you will see plenty of happy golfers on the area's rolling, sandy-soiled fairways.
For between $25-$50 (depending on the time of year), you can get a great Carolina golf experience at one of these Santee-area golf courses.
Wyboo Golf Club: About a 20-minute drive from the heart of Santee is a course whose name you're always going to remember, Wyboo Golf Club. Not only is it one of the game's most interesting names (an American Indian term meaning "rivers"), but it's also the area's newest course, opened in 1999.
Wyboo was designed by Tom Jackson, one of the Southeast's better known course architects. He has made a name for himself designing interesting, player-friendly courses that are affordable to play, and Wyboo is Exhibit A. Single-digit handicaps will get all the challenge they want at Wyboo from the 6,908-yard set of tees, but few shots on the course are intimidating enough to cause higher-handicaps to panic.
The course, while part of a small residential development, features holes that are mostly framed on each side by forest, with a small smattering of ponds to navigate. Those who make the drive here from Santee will be rewarded with tee sheets that are usually a little more open and a course that is as peaceful as they come.
Santee National Golf Club: Like Wyboo, Santee National Golf Club is one of the destination's more modern golf facilities, opened in 1989.
With a great practice area and probably the best clubhouse around Santee, this semi-private club is a spot for those serious about their games.
The layout is manageable for higher handicaps with wide playing corridors and greens with little trouble in front. But lower handicaps can step back to the back tees at 6,858 yards and can take on large greens that utilize a wide variety of pin locations. The back nine gets more wooded and tighter, so hopefully your driver is in a groove by then.
Santee-Cooper Country Club: Despite serving as the area's oldest golf course, Santee-Cooper Country Club is still plenty of golf for any level player.
At 6,589 yards from the back tees, the course tends to play longer thanks to a handful of sharp doglegs and long par 3s. Additionally, most greens are elevated, so it's a good idea to take an extra club on many approach shots.
Santee-Cooper has some especially scenic spots as well. Keep an eye out for the centuries-old oak tree behind the fifth green, and shake hands with your partners on the 18th green overlooking Lake Marion.
More golf in Santee
Playing next door to Santee Cooper Country Club is Lake Marion Golf Course, a newer course that allows for more drivers off the tee than the dogleg-happy Santee Cooper.
The course maxes out at 6,474 yards from the blue tees, but there are plenty of long par 4s and even a 562-yard par 5 that will challenge any golfer.
Around the corner from Wyboo Golf Club is the Players Course at Wyboo, which can play more than 7,000 yards from the back tees.