Established in 1946, historic Clark’s Inn and Restaurant has long welcomed travelers to “America’s Value Golf Destination.”
By Brad King
For more than a half-century, traveling enthusiasts making their way through South Carolina along Interstate 95 have enjoyed staying at Clark’s Inn and Restaurant, immediately off Exit 98 in Santee, S.C.
Not coincidently, through the years Santee — located almost exactly halfway between New York and Miami — has become extremely popular for its superb fishing, excellent golf, affordable accommodations and outstanding food and entertainment.
Indeed, Clark’s Inn and Restaurant has played a major role in helping this small inland South Carolina town — of slightly more than 800 people and three local golf courses — attract upwards of 100,000 golfers each year.
William E. Clark, the late founder of Clark’s Inn and Restaurant, moved the restaurant from Highway 301 to its current location on Old Number Six Highway in 1971 — just as the I-95 phase through South Carolina was being completed providing Clark’s immediate visibility.
Despite the Inn’s five redesigns and various additions and upgrades through the years, little has changed among either the long-time staff or the down-home cooking.
According to AAA, approximately 25 percent of the entire U.S. population is likely to hit the road during the holidays this year and nearly 90 percent of long-distance holiday travel is by car.
Of course, given all that holiday driving, it can be tempting to turn to the convenience of fast food. But the South offers many delicious alternatives, right off the highway, if travelers know where to look.
Southern Living magazine recently rounded the best road food stops along some of the South’s most traveled interstates — from cafes and barbecue joints to meat ‘n’ threes and bakeries — in an article titled “The South’s Best Road Food.”
Clark’s Inn and Restaurant was one of only three restaurants mentioned on the whole I-95 route as one of the best places for a Pit Stop.
About Clark’s Inn and Restaurant, which has hosted travelers and golfers since opening its restaurant in 1946, Southern Living wrote: “Old-school, steak-and-seafood dining; expect white tablecloths and a clubby bar catering to road-weary travelers and folks staying at the attached Inn.”
“It’s a big deal to be mentioned in Southern Living,” said Bill Clark, the Inn’s second-generation owner. “It’s a big deal for us and it’s good for Santee.”
The Inn and restaurant reflect a comfortable, masculine high-end flare that caters to both “the Palm Beach set to the local farmers,” as well as numerous golfers, Bill Clark said.
Clark’s assortment of accommodations situated among multiple buildings behind its acclaimed restaurant, bar and gift shop includes newer two-room suites feature a living quarter, bedroom with a full bath and a dressing area with a vanity. The living room features a wet bar complete with a small refrigerator, sink and microwave.
Great value is the dominant theme in Santee, where affordability and exceptional golf properties work in concert to attract traveling golfers seeking value in golf and a second mortgage to travel is not required.
Upscale premium green fees are nowhere to be found and dollars definitely do go further in Santee. For about $60 per day during the off season you can get golf, cart, accommodations and a full hearty breakfast at Clark’s.
Santee truly is a haven for golfers. Located just off 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 — all in one I-95 exit — three lakeside golf courses with an additional 14 layouts within a half-hour drive.
In fact, the trio of courses located in town is less than a mile apart with Clark’s conveniently situated at the midpoint. Santee National, Santee Cooper Resort and Lake Marion provide wide fairways, challenging greens, water hazards and impeccable maintenance, and have all been upgraded through the years.
Meanwhile, five more courses are located on the north side of Lake Marion about 20 minutes away, the must-plays headed by the Tom Jackson-designed Wyboo Golf Club and the Players Course at Wyboo Plantation. With Interstate 26 just a few more miles south, 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.
In addition, the Clark’s staff can customize any vacation to Santee and will take care of things right to the tee. Clark’s is currently offering a trio of golf special packages:
Golf Special No. 1 includes 4 nights, 3 rounds of golf at Lake Marion, Santee Cooper and Santee National with cart. Complimentary cooked to order “country” breakfast each morning. $62.00 per person, per night, taxes extra. Based on double occupancy. Valid until January 31, 2015.
Golf Special No. 2 includes 5 nights, 3 rounds of golf at Lake Marion, Santee Cooper and Santee National with cart. Complimentary cooked to order “country” breakfast each morning. $59.00 per person, per night, taxes extra. Based on double occupancy. Valid until January 31, 2015.
Golf Special No. 3 includes 6 nights, 3 rounds of golf at Lake Marion, Santee Cooper and Santee National with cart. Complimentary cooked to order “country” breakfast each morning. $56.00 per person, per night, taxes extra. Based on double occupancy. Valid until January 31, 2015.
A few years ago a book called “From Cotton Fields to Golf Courses” was written to spotlight this most unlikely of golf Meccas. It is a pictorial history that chronicles the transformation of lively little Santee’s profitable cotton fields into even more profitable golf courses — a must read for anyone planning an affordable golf trip.
Through the years both have grown in stature and today the Clark name is firmly entrenched in the pages of this small town’s history book.