Putt For Dough: Santee’s Palmetto Traverse

by Brad King

Construction of a unique, 18-hole putting course is underway at Lake Marion Golf Course, adjacent to the Lake Marion Villa & Townhouse Complex in Santee, SC. The 35,000-square-foot “Palmetto Traverse” is based of the Himalayas putting course at St. Andrews, and designed by golf course architect and Donald Ross restoration specialist Kris Spence.

SANTEE, SOUTH CAROLINA (February 2019) — An 18-hole, 35,000-square-foot putting course is being constructed at Lake Marion Golf Course in Santee, S.C.

“Palmetto Traverse” will be located at Lake Marion Golf Course adjacent to the Lake Marion Villa & Townhouse Complex. The layout has been designed by golf course architect and Donald Ross restoration specialist Kris Spence and Spence Golf Design.

Construction on the putting course is underway, with an expected opening in late August.

“We are always looking for ways to make the overall experience at our facility better and more exciting.  The trend in putting course construction caught our attention and we happened to have the perfect piece of property to build something extremely unique for our area,” said Todd Miller, general manager of Santee Cooper Resort.

Spence said the complex — which is being constructed using USGA sub surface drainage and rootzone, and will be topped with a Tifeagle Ultradwarf surface — also will include a pair of small bunkers within the surface area, and a small central grassy island with a sitting area and landscaping. The internal contours include plateaus, terraces, swales, rolls, valleys, spines and slopes that will provide abundant variety testing the best player to beginner.

“The green will include most every feature a golfer might experience when playing golf around the world,” said Spence, who is based in Greensboro, N.C.

Palmetto Traverse

Spence has renovated, restored or worked on nearly three-dozen golf courses in North Carolina, most notably Sedgefield CC, site of the PGA Tour’s annual Wyndham Championship, Roaring Gap Club, Country Club of North Carolina’s Dogwood Course, Forsyth CC, Mimosa Hills, Grove Park, Cape Fear and Myers Park.

The concept for Palmetto Traverse is based on the Himalayas putting course at St. Andrews in Scotland and will be akin to the Thistle Dhu putting course at the Pinehurst Resort in Pinehurst, N.C.

The green is conveniently located behind the Lake Marion GC clubhouse and golf shop near the multiple golf villas on the property, just steps away from the front door of the villas and pool area. 

“I think this will especially appeal to those golfers staying on the property wanting something else to do following their round on the course,” said Spence. “The design should provide some wild fun, with putts as long as 260 feet possible and over some of the most varied terrain I have ever designed into a putting surface.”

Among budget-conscious golfers, Santee has morphed into a revered year-round destination. Located on the south shore of Lake Marion, South Carolina’s largest freshwater lake where a number of world records have been set through the years for largemouth catfish and bass, Santee is convenient — dissected by Interstate 95 almost exactly halfway between New York and Miami — and just off Interstate 26, midway between the Palmetto State’s popular cities Charleston and Columbia.

Miller said the plan is to plant and sprig the putting green around June 1 with an expected opening between mid-August and Sept 1, 2019. 

A green fee for the 18-hole putting course will be included in all-inclusive, stay-and-play packages booked through Santee Cooper Golf & Travel. There will be a nominal fee for those pulling off I-95 to play.

“We expect many the Palmetto Traverse will be a big hit with the I-95, as well as families from Charleston, Columbia and the surrounding area,” Miller said.