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|Wyboo Golf Course is just under 7,000 yards from the back tees. (Courtesy Wyboo G.C.)|
South Carolina golf isn't all about Myrtle Beach or Charleston or Kiawah Island.
In fact, if you're traveling south on Interstate-95, or north for that matter, and want to break up the trip by playing a little golf, those places are relatively out of the way.
Here are some courses right off I-95 - none of them more than 5 miles off the interstate - where you can tee it up and be back on the road in a minimum of time. Weekday and weekend green fees are listed.
• Twin Lakes Country Club, Exit 193, five miles off I-95, in Hamer: This is a semi-private course that's an easy play. It opened in 1959. It's a short course at 6,100 yards from the back tees, with a slope rating of 113 - bring your Aunt Matilda, she should be able to get around with no trouble. Green fees: $20-$27 Tee times: (843) 774-3740.
• Beaver Creek Golf Club, Exit 164, eight miles of I-95 in Darlington: This is a Jim Robertson design that opened in 1968. It's still fairly short, at 6,400 yards from the back tees, and has decent conditioning, but the back nine is particularly challenging after a bland opening nine. There is a driving range. Green fees: $20-$25, including cart. Tee times: (843) 393-5441.
• Oakdale Country Club, Exit 157, five miles off I-95 in Florence: This is another short, public course at 6,268 yards from the tips. It opened in 1961. Beware, some golfers have complained the service is not always the best. Green fees: $28-$33, including cart. Tee times: (843) 662-0368.
• The Traces Golf Club, Exit 137, five miles off I-95 and 1 mile off I-40 in Florence: The Traces is a 27-hole, semi-private layout with rolling terrain and large, undulating greens.
Built in 1999, the course has three different nines: Architect Ron Garl designed the Woodland Course, with tight driving holes; the Meadows Course is partially a links-style with little trouble and the Creekside Course has a combination of tree-lined fairways, water and sand hazards. Green fees: $27-$34. Tee times: (843) 662-7775.
• Sumter National Golf Club, Exit 135, three miles off I-95 in Gable: It was designed by well-known architect Russell Breeden, and will be the first regulation-size course on the I-95 trail. It's 7,000 yards with a respectable slope rating of 127. It opened in 1974 with fairly tight fairways and penal rough. Green fees: $23-$27. Tee times: (803) 495-3550.
• Clarendon Golf & Country Club, Exit 115, three miles off I-95 in Manning: This semi-private course is one of the oldest in the area. It was built on flat terrain with moderately sloped, elevated greens. There is a driving range and putting green. The 6,663-yard layout was designed by Ed Riccoboni. Green fees: $20-$22, including cart. Tee times: (803) 435-8752.
• Royal Oaks Golf Course, Exit 112, three miles off I-95 in Manning: It was designed by Clyde Johnston, another well-known Carolina architect. It's 7,074 yards from the tips and has a driving range and practice putting green. The golf-only facility opened in 1994 and has a benign slope rating of 125. Green fees: $28, with $20 twilight rate, includes cart. Tee times: (803) 478-7272.
• Wyboo Golf Club, Exit 108, three miles off I-95 in Manning: It opened in 1999 and has been picked as a top-10 public access course in the state. It has wide fairways and rolling terrain, and most of the difficulty lies in the tricky approach shots. It has a putting green and practice bunker. The course is a few yards under the 7,000-yard mark. Green fees: $25-$30. Tee times: (803) 478-7899.
• Foxboro Golf Club, Exit 108, two miles off I-95 in Summerton: It is on the shores of Lake Marion, near Goat Island. The entire course, from tee to green, has undergone a recent renovation. There is a practice putting green. It's 6,819 yards with a slope rating of 121. Green fees: $22-$25. Tee times: (803) 478-7000.
• Lake Marion Golf Course, Exit 98, two miles off I-95 in Santee: The town is a popular spot for budget-minded golfers looking to avoid the crowds and maybe get in a little striper fishing.
Lake Marion got a 3 1/2 star rating in Golf Digest's "places to play." It has wide fairways and 47 sand traps, and five of the 18 holes have water hazards. It's right next to the Santee-Cooper Country Club Green fees: $55. Tee times: (800) 344-6534.
• Santee-Cooper Country Club, Exit 98, two miles off I-95 in Santee: The club also got a 3 1/2 star rating from Golf Digest. Designed architect George Cobb, it opened in 1967, and it is 6,512 yards from the back tees with a slope rating of 124. Green fees: $56. Tee times: (803) 854-2467.
• Santee National Golf Club, Exit 98, two miles off I-95 in Santee: Yet another course that earned a 3 1/2-star designation. It has five lakes dotted around the rolling terrain with moss-draped oak trees lining the fairways. It's also no back-breaker at 6,858 yards. Green fees: $39-$49. Tee times: (803) 854-3531.
• Sergeant Jasper Country Club, Exit 22, one mile off I-95 in Ridgeland: This is a nine-holer designed by none other than Gary Player. Didn't know he designed small courses? It has narrow fairways lined with old oaks and small, undulating greens that are slightly elevated and protected by both sand and grass bunkers. There is water on only two holes. Green fees: $20 weekdays and weekends, includes cart. Tee times: (843) 726-8977.
• Pintail Creek Golf Course, Exit 5, three miles off I-95 in Hardeeville: Pintail opened in 1970 and has well-designed greens, but beware, some golfers have complained about the conditioning of this track. Green fees: $25, including cart. Tee times: (843) 784-2426.
February 19, 2008
Veteran golf writer Tim McDonald keeps one eye on the PGA Tour and another watching golf vacation hotspots and letting travelers in on the best place to vacation.
Myrtle Beach, S.C. has its elite golf courses. The more economical end of the spectrum, though, doesn't necessarily mean a pure sacrifice of the game. There are solid rounds that far exceed the accompanying low-dollar greens fees. Here are four courses that have withstood the test of time and don't take a significant chunk out the bank account.
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