Superintendent Gene Scarborough came up with the idea of turning the club’s signature tree, which had been suffering from an invasive fungus, into an art design. PGA professional Steve Smart sketched out his vision for the tree and two chainsaw artists were hired to do the work. The art features images representative of the town’s most popular pastimes—outdoor recreation, hunting and fishing associated with the adjacent Lake Marion, and golf.
Santee (S.C.) Cooper Country Club has a new calling card. A massive, formerly live oak—the signature tree off the fifth green of the club, which had died a slow death—was recently given new life by a pair of North Carolina artists with chain saws, who turned the dying tree into a sculpture.
Several hundred years old, with a circumference of 19 feet and providing a quarter-acre canopy during its prime, the southern live oak (Quercus virginiana) had adorned the club logos, flags and stationery when Santee Cooper CC debuted in 1967.
However, several years ago an invasive fungus caused the once-stately tree to begin suffering a slow death. Rather than removing it entirely, Santee Cooper staff started pruning the tree over time, slowly removing the deadwood while leaving behind the trunk and portions of three branches.
Soon, longtime Superintendent Gene Scarborough came up with the idea of turning the tree into an art design. After Scarborough’s concept was approved by the resort’s General Manager, Santee Cooper’s PGA professional, Steve Smart, sketched out his vision for the tree.
To bring the concept to life, a combination of community fundraising and contributions from the resort company raised the funds necessary to pay the two chainsaw artists—Kyle Thomas of Red Rabbit Wood Carving in Raleigh and Corey Lancaster of Boon Hill Gallery in Princeton—for their five days of carving. After completion, the artists applied an Australian timber oil to the carving to protect it.
The art features images representative of the town’s most popular pastimes—outdoor recreation, hunting and fishing associated with the adjacent Lake Marion, and, of course, golf.
Along with a golfer and golf cart, there are fish—a bass and a brim—an Osprey, a Blue Heron and a Bald Eagle, an alligator, a turtle, a fox squirrel and even a skink.
“Of course, we have the lake, which is a big draw,” said Smart. “The next thing behind it is golf.”
Next, the resort plans to enhance the tree’s surrounding landscaping, while adding a bench, lighting and irrigation around Santee Cooper CC’s new signature centerpiece.
“We were able to take something that was dying—that was dead—and, instead of just having a stump and then having to grind that stump up, we were able to make something very unique,” Scarborough said.