Blogs > DSG's Affordabili-TEES

News-Herald Staff Writer David S. Glasier has been playing golf for over 50 years and writing about it for over 30. Always operating on a tight budget, Glasier is on a lifelong quest to find good courses to play at affordable prices.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Fall golf trip 2012, Days 5. 6 &7: Santee, S.C.

     Lake Marion Golf Course
     9069 Highway 6, Santee, S.C., 29142
     Par 72: 5,109 to 6,474 yards
     Greens fees: Variable, according to packages
     Phone: 803-854-2554

     Santee Cooper Country Club
     630 Santee Dr., Santee, S.C., 29142
     Par 72; 5,045 to 6,589 yards
     Greens fees: Variable, according to packages
     Phone: 803-854-2467

     Santee Cooper Golf and Travel
     9069 Highway 6
     P.O. Box 160
     Santee, S.C., 29142

    Santee travel info:

       Of all the great out-of-state destinations we've visited since launching this blog two years ago, none better embodies the core principles of "Affordabili-TEES'' than the South Carolina crossroads town of Santee.
       Santee. is all about quality golf and lodging at hard-to-beat prices in a friendly, down-home community. Throw in great location on the busy I-95 corridor and it's no wonder an estimated 150,000 golf travelers make their way to Santee every year.
     Tens of thousands of those travelers pull into town in vehicles with Ohio license plates, many of them issued in the Northeast Ohio counties of Lake, Geauga and Cuyahoga.
     From where traveling partner George Sweda and I started our trip, it's about 700 miles to Santee. That's do-able in a day, but if your schedule permits, I'd recommend making this trip in two legs.
     Here's the plan I'd suggest.
     On Day 1, go to Wytheville, Va. From anywhere in Lake County, it's about 360 miles straight down I-77. Leave early in the morning, and you could even get in 18 holes at Wolf Creek Golf Club in Bastian or Draper Valley Golf in Draper before checking into one of the many affordable motels at the two Wytheville exits.
     Check out previous installments of "Affordabili-TEES,'' including the first entry from this trip, for more details about golf and lodging in Wytheville.
     On Day 2, make your way down I-77 south to I-26 south (toward Charleston) to I-95 north. Santee (Exit 98) is just a short jaunt up I-95.
     Our hosts for a three-day stay in Santee were the husband-wife team of Todd and Penny Miller.
     Todd is the general manager of Santee Cooper Resort, the owner and operator of Lake Marion Golf Course, Santee Cooper Country Club and the nifty golf villas at Lake Marion.
     We stayed in one of the villas. It featured two spacious bedrooms, two bathrooms, large living room and full kitchen. The villas, less than five years old, were quite busy when we were there in mid-October.
     Penny manages the pro shop at Lake Marion. It's a first-rate shop with tons of stuff to buy at reasonable prices, a snack bar and a club repair shop operated by Jack Slater.
     If you are planning a trip to Santee, Todd and Penny recommend that you check out the many stay-and-play packages offered on their website,
     From now until Nov. 13, the villa packages set up for quad occupancy are $268 per person for three nights and four rounds, two each at Lake Marion and Santee Cooper.
     From Nov. 14 to Feb. 5, that price goes down to $180. The rates will go up to $300 or slightly more in March 2013 and April 2013, the peak "golf snowbird'' months, but those numbers are still solid values given the quality of lodging and golf.
     Unless I'm misreading their flyer, the Millers and their staff can work with you to pull together stay-and-play packages using various hotels and motels as well as 17 golf courses in the Santee area.
     We played Lake Marion, Santee Cooper and Wyboo Golf Club.
     Lake Marion was my personal favorite, followed closely by Santee Cooper and Wyboo.
     Located just minutes from the I-95 exit and essentially next door to each other, Lake Marion and Santee Cooper are solid tests of golf. From tee to green, playing conditions at both courses are top-notch.
     Especially for first-time visitors, the golf experiences at Lake Marion and Santee Cooper are made easier by on-cart GPS systems that are the best I've ever seen. They provide accurate yardages not just from the cart to the pin, but from the cart to hazards and to the front and back of greens.
     Our playing partners at Lake Marion and Santee Cooper were Ed Halcomb and the aforementioned Jack Slater.
     Demonstrating that it is, indeed, a small world, we learned moments after meeting these fine gentleman that Ed was a longtime resident of Northeast Ohio - living in Geneva and working in Mentor and Painesville - before retiring at 55 and making the move to Santee.
     "Do-it-all-Ed'' works behind the counter in the Lake Marion pro shop when he isn't out on the course cranking out long drives and accurate iron shots.
      Jack came to Santee from New Jersey and is a master of many trades. In addition to his work in the club repair shop, he's an expert stone mason and carpenter whose handiwork is everywhere to be seen at Lake Marion and Santee Cooper.
     The same as Ed, Jack also is a fine player. That's Ed on the left and Jack on the right.

    At Wyboo, about a 25-minute drive from our villa at Lake Marion, our playing partners were Dana Perry, the head professional at Lake Marion and Santee Cooper, and noted local amateur Charles Persinger.
     George and I could not have fared better than we did in having Ed, Jack, Dana and Charles as playing partners. They showed us Southern hospitality at its finest.
     There was an added bonus to playing with Dana and Charles at Wyboo.
     During our round, I tapped into their expertise while shooting a video lesson on how to effectively, consistently move the ball out of the Bermuda rough that lines the fairways of most of the courses in the Santee area.
     I'll be the first to admit I struggled mightily with the stuff.
     That momentary frustration notwithstanding, I tell you without hesitation that Santee honestly comes by its billing as "America's Value Golf Destination.''

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Fall golf trip 2012, Days 2, 3: Pinehurst, N.C.

     For weeks, I'd been looking forward to the four-day leg of this trip to the Pinehurst-Southern Pines-Aberdeen area in south-central North Carolina.
     On the "Affordabili-TEES'' beat, I was set for rounds at the Mid South Club and Talamore Golf Club, both in Southern Pines.
     I'd played the Rees Jones-designed Talamore on the March 2011 "Affordabili-TEES'' trip, but this would be my first visit to Mid South, an Arnold Palmer design across the street from Talamore.
     Talamore and Mid-South are sister courses owned by the same company. Booking for both courses is handled by the Talamore Golf Resort company.
     Let me recommend the stay-and-play packages offered by Talamore Golf Resort while also advising you that prices for those packages are higher than many of those we've reviewed here in the past.
     But in golf vacations as in life, you get what you pay for.
     With multi-day packages at the Talamore villas currently averaging $289 per night (golf and lodging), I'd definitely classify these as "splurge'' packages.
     I also know that Talamore resort manager Derek S. Noll is a resourceful guy who will move heaven and earth to pull together a package for you.
     The icing on the cake is that those packages can include rounds at 21 other Pinehurst-area courses.
     Trust me on this...if you can somehow get these numbers inside your budget, you won't regret it.
     Mid-South came highly recommended to me by people who've played many or most of the Pinehurst-area courses. It more than lived up to the hype, both with its beauty and top-notch playing conditions.
     Talamore was just as I remembered it from the previous visit, scenic and tough as nails.
     The putting surfaces at both courses were darn-near perfect and on the fast side.
     During this visit to Pinehurst, I stayed at Homewood Suites by Hilton Olmsted Village. The per-night room rate was $109. It was a solid value considering the quality of the multi-room suite.
     Pictured below are Mid-South and Talamore.

     Talamore Golf Club, Resort Course
     Where: Southern Pines, N.C.
     Par, yardages: 71, 4,977 (red tees); 5,470 (green); 6,025 (white); 6,534 (blue); 6,840 (gold)
     Phone: 1-800-352-6292; 910-692-5884

     Mid South Club
     Where: Southern Pines, N.C.
     Par, yardages: 71, 4,773 (red tees); 5,655 (green); 6,200 (white); 6,607 (blue); 7,003 (gold)
     Websites:     Phone: 910-695-3193

     Homewood Suites by Hilton Olmsted Village
     250 Central Park Avenue
     Pinehurst, North Carolina 28374
     Phone: 910-255-0300


Saturday, October 20, 2012

Fall golf trip, Day 1: Back to NW Virginia

     Back in March, I paid a visit to Draper Valley Golf Club in Virginia while on my way to Fayetteville, N.C.
     Although there wasn't room enough in my schedule that day to get in a round there, I made a mental note to do so on the next "Affordabili-TEES'' trip in that general direction.
     The "next trip'' is underway, and it got off to a nice start at the scenic layout astride Interstate 81 about 10 miles south of the busy Wytheville exits off I-77.
     Draper Valley is a public course with a walk-in greens fee of $37. The price point, scenic views and above-average playing conditions makes the course a favorite stop for road-tripping golfers from Northeast Ohio on their way to North Carolina and South Carolina.
     Joined by fellow traveler and retired Hall of Fame golf writer George Sweda, we worked our way around the par-72, 6,412-yard layout on a sunny but decidedly cool Saturday morning.
     Quick a faithful adherent to the principles of "Tee it Forward,'' I always choose the tee boxes playing from 6,100 to 6.400 yards.
     For those of you who are bigger hitters, Draper Valley stretches out to 7,070 yards.
     Draper Valley begins with a straightforward, 491-yard par-and ends with a sharp dogleg-right, 312-yard par-4 that requires distance control both on the tee shot and approach shot over water
     In between, there is a satisfying variety of holes. Personal favorites were the par-3, 163-yard seventh and par-5, 511-yard 13th (see photos below).
     Our base of operations was the Super 8 hotel in Wytheville. It's a clean, friendly place with a right-in-the-wheelhouse nightly rate of $58. It took about 20 minutes to get from the hotel to the golf course.
     Here's a suggestion for budget-conscious golfers from Northeast Ohio who want to take a fall golf vacation but only have time for a quick trip.
     Pair up Draper Valley with Wolf Creek Golf and Country Club in Bastian, about 20 miles north of the Wytheville interchanges.
     You can leave Friday after work and easily make the 6-hour ride to Wytheville. Play one of the two courses anytime on Saturday, the other on Sunday morning and be back at home Sunday night.
     As for the meals, affordability is the key, too. Start with the free continental breakfast at the Super 8, have lunch at the courses and dinner at the Sagebrush, a really good restaurant immediately adjacent to the hotel.

     Draper Valley Golf Club
     Where: 2800 Big Valley Rd., Draper, Va. 24324
     Par, yardages: 71, 4,683 (red); 5,467 (gold); 6,412 (white); 7,070 (blue).
     Greens fees: $37, 18 holes with cart; $35 seniors.
     Phone: 540-980-4653

     Wolf Creek Golf and Country Club
     Where: Bastian, Va.
     Par, yardage: 71, 6,020 (white tees); 6,360 (blue tees)
     Greens fees, with riding cart: $35 weekdays, $40 weekends; $30 weekdays, $35 weekends (seniors, 60 and older)

     Super 8 Wytheville
     130 Nye Circle, Wythevile, Va., 24382