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Santee golf club transforms dying tree into sculpture

In about five days, two chainsaw artists turned Santee Cooper Resort's vision into a centerpiece.

SANTEE, S.C. — Santee Cooper Resort residents like Mark Berryman are in awe after staff turned a dying 300-year-old oak tree into an a work of art. 

"As a community, we bought right in," Berryman said. "We're excited as a community that this is going to be a centerpiece for us."

"It was a signature tree for the resort," said greens superintendent Gene Scarborough. "It was on all the logos when the place opened in 1967. I've been here for about 24 years, and it was slowly dying. I had an ah-ha moment, and I said, why don't we turn this into something that looks pretty cool. Then I said, let's turn it into a sculpture."

Credit: Devin Johnson

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The design for the tree came from PGA golf professional Steve Smart. In about five days, two chainsaw artists turned the resort's vision into a centerpiece for their residents and members. Smart says the sculpture represents the life of Santee.

"Of course, we have the lake, which is a big draw," said Smart. "The next thing behind it is golf."

The Signature Live Oak at Santee Cooper Resort had been in declining health for years. It had become a dangerous area...

Posted by Santee-Cooper Resort Golf Course Maintenance on Thursday, September 16, 2021

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Santee Cooper Resort officials say clean up and landscaping around the sculpture will complete the project. Residents are expected to gather around the sculpture at 6:30 pm Monday to celebrate their new centerpiece.

"When we get this landscaped and lit, people who come to this community are going to want to live here," explained Berryman. "We're excited about."

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