Top 5 Summer Activities at The Ford

With summer officially here, activities are heating up at The Ford Field & River Club. Whether you’re looking forward to venturing out each day to embrace the warm weather or you’re more inclined to spend the sunny quiet afternoons strolling under the shady oaks or kicking back on the porch while the kids run free—The Ford is where everyone can have their perfect summer. 

Below, Mike Womble, Director of Outdoor Pursuits at The Ford, shares some of our members’ favorite ways to stay cool (or embrace the heat) and create summer memories that will last a lifetime.

Pool Days

Solo or with family and friends, days at the Lake Dye Pool are not to be missed. “With kids out of school and adults wanting to take a cooling plunge, we have lots of excitement happening in and near the pool,” says Mike. Plus, the adjacent Lake Dye Grill is open for the season—serving fresh burgers, icy cocktails and more to enjoy poolside.

Summer Camps

In the summer months, The Ford’s staff naturalist Brittany Dodge hosts two-week-long Kids Summer Camps. “During each session, 15 to 20 kids enjoy the pool, learn about nature, make nature-themed crafts, try their hand at golf, create (and eat) fun treats with The Ford’s on-site chef, go fishing and just have a blast being a kid,” says Mike. As for parents—they’ll get days to themselves, followed by tired-out (and happy) kids in the evenings.

Evenings by the Campfire

No summer at The Ford is complete without at least a few evenings under the stars. Head to The Main House and watch the sunset by the pool, fire up s’mores at the Oyster House’s outdoor fire pit, or opt to get a table at the Clubhouse and take in the evening—and the golf course greens—alongside a great meal. Wherever you go, keep your eyes peeled for flickering lightning bugs and listen to the crickets sing—this is what summer dreams are made of.


“All summer long, crabbing for Georgia Blue Crabs is in full swing at the flood gates along Lake Clara,” says Mike. “Huge 6- to 9-inch crabs can be caught at these ‘pinch points’ along the Lake Clara Dike Trail. You can throw out a trap and wait, but the most fun is to take crab lines with chicken necks tied to them and lure the crabs to the surface to net them. Expect hours of fun for the kids and the kids-at-heart in your family.”

Horseback Riding

Exploring The Ford from about five feet off the ground is a spectacular way to enjoy both nature and adventure any time of the year—and summer is no exception. The Ford houses more than 10 miles of bridle trails—explore them on your own horse, borrow one of ours or set out on a guided tour. Make sure to cool off in the Equestrian Center’s comfy members’ lounge after a leisurely ride through the lowcountry.

4 Fish to Angle for this Summer

“Summer is a great time to be a fisherman here at The Ford Field & River Club,” says Mike Womble, Director of Outdoor Pursuits at The Ford and a trusted resource on all things angling. “Some of the most sought-after game fish show up in large numbers when the water gets warm around here. Whether you are a fly fisherman or use conventional tackle, you won’t be disappointed with what our waterways have to offer.”  Discover four of the fish species you’ll likely hook this season at or near The Ford.


Sea Trout & Redfish

“Just a short boat ride from The Ford is Ossabaw Sound, which offers the angler numerous fishing opportunities,” says Mike. “Spotted sea trout and redfish are schooling around nearly any small creek mouth or oyster shell bar in the sound—and while live shrimp is the go-to bait to catch these scrappy fighters, they will also greedily take shrimp or crab pattern flies.”


Triple Tail

As June arrives, so does the Triple Tail. “A fly fishers dream—these fish have the habit of floating on their side and can be sight-casted to by the fly angler,” notes Mike. “They will also take many different artificial and live baits for the conventional angler. The average size of these little monsters is 5-20 pounds. The great thing about Triple Tails is that they are amazing table fare. Let your Ford guide filet your catch and take it up to our chef at the Clubhouse for an amazingly fresh and tasty meal—prepared to your liking.”



“Late June brings the king of all game fish to our coastal waters—including the Tarpon. These giants migrate here and stay around till late September,” says Mike. “Usually caught on live bait like mullet or menhaden, these fish range in size from 50-150+ pounds and will test any angler lucky enough to hook one. Once hooked, these fish make incredibly acrobatic jumps—sometimes reaching 10 feet in the air!  They are the holy grail of sport fishing, for sure. We typically take a picture and release them to fight another day.”


Largemouth Bass

“If you would like to stay on property, the Ford offers almost 300 acres of freshwater lakes and ponds to delight the Largemouth Bass angler,” says Mike. “Summer is the best time to catch these fish using topwater lures and flies. During early mornings and late evenings, these tough fish will greedily take a frog pattern, lure or a wounded baitfish lure from the surface and show off when hooked with some amazing acrobatic moves. The average size Largemouth Bass caught at The Ford is between 2-6 pounds, with a few bruisers in the 7-10 pound class caught every summer.”


VIDEO: Explore The Ford’s World-Class Golf Course

Golf at The Ford Field & River Club is more than just playing a game—it provides players a one-of-a-kind connection with the unique riverfront setting, one another and the native wildlife. This is no accident, of course. Designed by World Golf Hall of Fame legend Pete Dye in 1987 and redesigned by Dye again in 2014, our 250-acre golf course pays homage to and utilizes the natural surroundings of the Georgia Lowcountry throughout its 18 holes. In this video, Ryan Skipton, PGA and Director of Golf at The Ford, touches on the history of golf at The Ford, why it’s a favorite pastime and much, much more.

Neighborhood Spotlight: Hilton Head Island

About an hour north of The Ford Field & River Club, just off the coast of South Carolina, there lies a magical little oasis called Hilton Head Island. Among its many accolades, Hilton Head Island has been voted the #1 Island in the Continental U.S. and the #2 Island in the World by Travel + Leisure magazine, honored among the 25 Best Island Beaches in the World by Condé Nast Traveler, and named the #2 Best Beach Town by Southern Living.

With 12 miles of pristine beaches, Hilton Head is where lowcountry comfort meets Atlantic Ocean adventure. Because of its proximity and range of activities and attractions, members of The Ford frequent Hilton Head Island for summertime fun in the sun—whether for a day, a weekend or an extended stay. From where to set up your beach blanket to how to get the biggest adrenaline rush in the water, here’s how to plan your Hilton Head Island getaway. 

The Sand & Sea

Important Beach Info

All of Hilton Head Island’s 12 miles of beaches are public; however, you’ll need to access the beaches via dedicated public access entrances, to avoid trespassing on private beachfront properties. Dogs are not permitted on any of Hilton Head Island beaches from Memorial Day through Labor Day; during the off season, they’re allowed on-leash or off-leash, depending on the time of year.


The waters surrounding Hilton Head Island tend to be fairly calm, making this a great destination for the whole family. The underwater terrain has a gradual slope, so you can head out fairly far with your feet still on the ground. During beach season (April–September), lifeguards are stationed at Coligny, Driessen, Folly Field and Islander Beaches; these are considered designated swimming areas. To protect swimmers during peak beachgoing hours, fishing, surfing, boogie boarding and team sports are prohibited in these areas from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Water Sports

Hilton Head Island is not a hot surfing destination due to low waves and generally mild currents. However, for little ones or new surfers, the island is actually a great place to learn the skill. If you’re on the adventurous side, popular water activities include parasailing, jet ski rentals, stand up paddleboarding, sailing tours, kayaking, dolphin and alligator tours and more.

Food & Drinks

Carolina Crab Company

Seafood is a must while on Hilton Head Island, and Carolina Crab Company does this cuisine so well. Start with hushpuppies served with cinnamon apple butter and prepare to eat your weight in crab legs, crab cakes (their speciality) and she-crab soup as you watch boats pull in and dock for the evening.

Skull Creek Boathouse

Boasting one of the best waterfront views on the island, this top-rated, award-winning restaurant prepares seafood just about any way you could dream up. Enjoy your seafood as sushi, chilled, steamed, fried, broiled, sautéed or sandwiched between fresh bread—you simply can’t go wrong.

The Other Sister’s Wine Bar

This harborside gathering spot offers daily wine tastings; a light but tasty menu of snacks, sandwiches and small plates as well as an assortment of wines, cocktails and beers. It’s a great spot to regroup before dinner or for a midday palate expander.

Entertainment, Exploration, Rejuvenation

Spa Day

Many of the island’s hotels and resorts cater to those in need of a little R&R, especially after a day of adventure. The Oceanfront Westin Resort & Spa and Refresh At Spa Soleil are two favorites among visitors—offering massage, beauty and wellness treatments.

Low-Impact Sports 

In addition to making many lower impact water sports accessible, Hilton Head Island houses 23 championship golf courses, various pickleball and tennis courts, and fishing gear rentals for those wanting to play a round, learn a new skill, or engage in some friendly competition while on vacation.

Bike Rentals

Hilton Head Island has more than 50 miles of rideable beaches and paved pathways for bike rides—whether for fun, exercise or as an easy means of transportation during your stay. Among the island’s vendors you’ll find beach cruisers, tandem bikes, electric bikes and more for the whole family.

Coastal Discovery Museum

A great daytime activity for all ages, the Coastal Discovery Museum features exhibits, events, tours and interactive experiences. Kids can meet Lowcountry wildlife and go on scavenger hunts, while adults might get the most out of the weekend art market and craft festival or the various historical buildings on the property.

Why Horseback Riding is the Best Way to See The Ford

Choosing how to explore The Ford Field & River Club’s picturesque expanse of riverfront and lush marshland is like navigating an entrancing fairy tale. With acres of carefully preserved waterfront, tree-shaded fields and well-kept trails, there’s certainly no wrong way to see the property. Yet, there’s one method of motion we can’t recommend highly enough—horseback riding. 

“Horseback is simply the best way to see The Ford,” says Equestrian Director, Kate Jones. Whether you’re tacking up your own horse conveniently boarded at our 22-stall Equestrian Center or taking one of The Ford’s club horses for a ride, there’s something special about experiencing this one-of-a-kind lowcountry setting while connecting with a magnificent, gentle creature.

Horseback riding is innately about trust between you and your horse. It’s a way to slow down, to literally experience a new perspective (after all—you’re sitting 5–6 feet above the ground), and to appreciate the beauty and strength of another being. If that doesn’t sound lovely enough on its own, consider your surroundings. “The slow, leisurely pace is like riding in a movie set,” says Kate. “The property is so romantic, with live oaks dating back to the 1700s.” 

When you take a one-to-three-hour ride (timing is based on your preference), you’ll get to experience all the beauty that is The Ford. “Our scenic rides meander through 1,800 acres of stunning property,” says Kate. “We have 12 miles of integrated trails throughout our community, all of which offer glorious views capturing the best of what the Georgia Lowcountry has to offer.” As for what those glorious views might include? “Peaceful live oaks draped with Spanish moss grace our riding trails. We also enjoy spectacular water views along three miles of embankments, where we often catch glimpses of shore birds and leaping fish.”

We asked Kate to choose a favorite riding trail at The Ford—a nearly impossible feat, in her eyes, “because they are all so spectacular!” While not to discount the other great trails, she highly recommends two in particular: The McAllister Dike Trail (1.5 miles long) and the Lake Clara Dike Trail (1.8 miles long). Each she says “offer particularly interesting flora, fauna and wildlife, as they are right on the Ogeechee River.”

Hungry for more? Once you’re ready to venture beyond The Ford, notes Kate, “we also organize off-property trail rides and beach rides for our members throughout the year.”

To learn more about all that The Ford has to offer, contact Danielle Hopper at 912.756.5614  or

Neighborhood Spotlight: Savannah

A quick 20 miles from The Ford Field & River Club, you’ll find quintessential Southern charm in the form of Georgia’s oldest city, Savannah. Rich history, intricate architecture, decadent food, friendly people, picturesque scenery—it’s no wonder Savannah has been ranked among Travel + Leisure’s “11 Perfect Weekend Getaways in the U.S. and Around the World.”

Located just across the river from the South Carolina border, this historic coastal city boasts 22 park squares shaded by towering Southern live oaks draped in Spanish moss. Picturesque and quaint while still being bustling and vibrant, Savannah is the perfect daytime excursion or weekend “staycation.” 

For those new to Savannah or those wanting a fresh perspective on the Hostess City of the South, here’s a guide to help you plan your next adventure.

Food & Drink

Leopold’s Ice Cream

For over a century, this old-school ice cream parlor has been satiating the sweet tooths of locals and tourists with their world-famous ice cream and sherbet. Leopold’s menu contains unchanged recipes from 1919, evergreen flavors, and a monthly rotation of seasonal flavors—including vegan offerings.

The Olde Pink House

Recognized by Condé Nast Traveler, Southern Living, Food Network and more, this charming pink house-turned-restaurant is a must visit. Served by candlelight, the dinner menu includes Southern favorites with flair. Rumor has it, the building is haunted by (friendly) ghosts—which is not uncommon for the historic city.

Crystal Beer Parlor

Holding the title of Savannah’s oldest restaurant, Crystal Beer Parlor opened up in 1933 during the Great Depression and has remained a favorite for nearly a century. Grab a burger and choose from an impressive list of beers on tap and savor a little taste of history.

Two Tides Brewing Company

Dabbling in varieties from sours to stouts, Two Tides is always brewing up something to suit your palate. Stop in to purchase a pack of cans or get a growler filled—or bring your friends, your dog, or your friends’ dogs and sip on a beer flight in their tasting room.

Art & History 

Kobo Gallery

Partially a result of the local Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD), Savannah has a thriving art community—showcased in museums, galleries, and pop-ups around town. The co-op Kobo Gallery is a wonderful place to discover local artists, from painters and jewelers to photographers and ceramicists.

Jepson Center

Spotlighting a rotating feature of exhibits as well as more permanent collections, the Jepson Center can be enjoyed at your own pace or on a guided tour. In addition to art, the Jepson Center houses an interactive children’s space called ArtZeum as well as an interactive gallery for technology-based art called TechSpace.

Fort Pulaski National Monument

Surprisingly well intact for a 19th-century fort, fallen during the Civil War, Fort Pulaski is a sight to see for anyone with a passion for history. The water-adjacent fort features moats, drawbridges and mysterious tunnels. The site also happens to be a great place to spot protected animal species, including bald eagles and manatees. (Technically, the fort is located on Tybee Island—more on that below.)

Activities & Adventure

Savannah Historic District

Savannah’s Historic District is the perfect place to choose your own adventure. Start with a stroll along the Savannah River, then venture into shops, join a moonlit walking ghost tour or take a ferry ride along the water. 

Forsyth Park

Occupying more than 30 acres, the 1840s-era park is the oldest and largest public park in Savannah. Visit the iconic fountain (installed in 1858) for a photo opp, set up a picnic under a towering oak tree or grab a cup of coffee from a local shop and walk along the shaded paths.

Tybee Island

Just minutes from Savannah lies 5 miles of stunning beachside bliss. Relax in the sand, kayak on the sea, explore Georgia’s oldest and tallest lighthouse (built in 1736), grab a seat at an oceanfront restaurant—the day will be what you make of it. Be sure to keep an eye out for bottlenose dolphins, often spotted frolicking just offshore.

4 Refreshing Springtime Cocktails

Springtime is a delight here at The Ford Field & River Club. The weather is perfectly balanced: not too hot, nor too cool; not too humid, nor too dry. From the blooming magnolias to the symphony of birdsong that resounds throughout the grounds—every corner of our riverfront community is teeming with vibrant energy.

What better way to complement springtime’s good spirits than by sipping on—well, some good spirits! Join us at the Clubhouse for craft cocktails or take a little inspiration from our expert cocktail mixers and shake up one of our signature drinks on your own. Using fresh ingredients and served chilled, these four cocktails are the epitome of springtime refreshment. For maximum enjoyment, pair each with good food and even better company.

Pomegranate Margarita 

One of The Ford’s most beloved springtime cocktails is our Pomegranate Margarita. This light, refreshing drink is a hit at any party and looks stunning in any stemware. Plus, it’s super easy to make ahead of time or on the fly. It’s quick to mix—no shaking or blending required—and has a sweet, fruity taste that everyone is sure to love. The recipe is beautiful in its simplicity, calling for just four easy-to-find ingredients—which allows you to splurge on a high-quality tequila.

• 1 1/2 Ounces White Tequila
• 1/2 Ounce Orange Liqueur
• 3–5 Ounces Pomegranate Juice, to Taste
• 1 Splash Freshly Squeezed Lime Juice

Pour ingredients into a glass with ice, stir, and serve.

Jalapeño Margarita

When you’re in the mood for something fresh and spicy, our Jalapeño Margarita is the way to go. This cocktail is perfect year-round, and you can control the spiciness by adjusting the amount of jalapeño.  

• Jalapeño 
• Lime 
• Simple Syrup (50/50 half sugar, half hot water—mix until the sugar is dissolved)
• Tequila
• Cointreau

Cut jalapeño (with gloves on) and add to a shaker glass. If you prefer your Jalapeño Margarita less spicy, cut the seeds out.
Muddle the jalapeño to break it up and get the juices going.
Cut a lime in half and use a hand juice squeezer to add the juice to the glass.
Add simple syrup (to taste).
Add tequila.
Add Cointreau.
Add ice.
Shake, strain, and pour over a glass of ice.
Add sliced jalapeño and serve.

Bloody Mary

A Bloody Mary is just the thing to compliment brunch on The Ford’s Clubhouse porch, overlooking the rolling greens of the golf course. Made with Zing Zang Bloody Mary Mix, our secret ingredient and decadent garnish, this is one delicious daytime drink.

• Worcestershire Sauce
• Tabasco 
• Zing Zang Bloody Mary Mix
• Savannah Vodka
• Secret Ingredient (see below)

Fill a shaker with ice and pour in vodka.
Add Bloody Mary mix.
Add Tabasco and Worcestershire Sauce to taste.
Shake it up.
Pour over glass with ice and strain into a glass filled with ice.
Secret ingredient: Pour Guinness Beer on top. This adds a little extra texture and flavor.
Garnish with picked okra and bacon.


When you need something to get your mojo back, our Mojito will do the trick. This simple but delicious drink is perfect to enjoy on sweet spring evenings. Adding fresh berries or fruit purée is a great way to spruce up this classic cocktail.

• Fresh Mint
• Lime
• Raspberries
• Simple Syrup
• Rum
• Soda Water

Fill a shaker with ice and pour in rum.
Add simple syrup (to taste).
Add mint leaves.
Cut a lime in half and use a hand juice squeezer to add the juice to the glass.
Shake it up.
Shake, strain, and pour over a glass of ice.
Top it off with soda water, mint and raspberries.

Top 5 Springtime Activities at The Ford

After a cool winter, we are all ready to take full advantage of the sunshine and warmer weather. As we usher in this season—representative of new life, energy and happiness—we’re turning to nature for all kinds of adventures. And nature sure is ready for us. It beckons us from all corners of The Ford Field & River Club, from the glittering waters of the great Ogeechee River and the Atlantic beyond to our acres of wildlife-rich oak groves and marshland.

We asked The Ford’s Outdoor Pursuits (ODP) Director Mike Womble for advice on what adventures we should embark upon this spring. Below, Mike shares five activities that are most popular among members (and staff) during this beautiful time of the year.

Sheepshead Madness

The most popular ODP spring activity is Sheepshead Madness, a team tournament that has anglers trying to catch and weigh in three sheepshead—a fish that can grow up to 30 inches. The winners of the tournament will have the heaviest overall weight of three fish, which can be upgraded during the two-month-long tournament. These fish are excellent fighters on light tackle and excellent table fare as well.” Sheepshead Madness began February 19 and ends on April 30.


The Ford has more than 300 acres of fresh and brackish water lagoons, providing excellent fishing for such species as largemouth bass, bluegill, crappie, catfish, redfish and flounder. As the water warms up, the bass in the lakes begin to spawn, which makes them great to catch with fly or spinning tackle. Also, striped bass in the Ogeechee River are spawning in the early spring—they are great fighters on light tackle.

The Ford residents and members can arrange guided fishing excursions through our freshwater lakes, Ogeechee River frontage, Ossabaw Sound and the Intracoastal. Contact Mike Womble for more information. 

Bird Watching 

Spring is a great time for bird watching at The Ford, as the spring migration of neotropical birds hits its peak. Neotropical birds winter in the southern hemisphere and fly here for spring, so they never see cold weather.

Spring is also the perfect time to spot bald eagles and great horned owls. Since they are early nesters (two of the few animals in general that have a wintertime nesting season), they are out and about and ready for action in the spring. 

Members and residents of The Ford can contact our on-site naturalist Brittany Dodge for more birding information and activities. 

Kayaking and Canoeing

Springtime temperatures are perfect for getting out and exploring The Ford’s lakes and rivers. The canoe is the perfect platform for families with younger children to explore together. You can take a relaxing, guided canoe trip and explore the many islands of The Ford’s Lake Clara and check the nesting activity of our wood ducks by examining the nesting boxes perched throughout the lake. 

Kayaking is the best way to get close to wildlife on Lake Clara. Kayaks are quiet, low profile and sleek, making them perfect for wildlife viewing. Kayaks are also perfect for exploring The Ford’s vast network of canals left over from the late 1700s. It is fun to paddle through history while exploring the natural world, looking for wildlife like alligators, boars, beavers, otters and numerous bird species, including herons and eagles.


As boaters feel the spring temperatures rise, they long to be on the beach. Fortunately, the pristine beaches of Wassaw and Ossabaw Islands—both of which are protected Georgia wildlife refuges—are just a short trip from The Ford. While there, you can look for feeding dolphins, search for sand dollars and view a wide variety of shore birds.

A Look Inside (and Out): 120 Riceland Way in
Silk Hope

Overlooking the lush neighboring wildlife preserve with scenic marsh and meadow views, 120 Riceland Way is one of two built homes in the newly evolved and expanded Silk Hope enclave at The Ford Field & River Club. 120 Riceland Way is a short golf cart ride from The Ford’s extensive amenities and within walking distance of the community’s Great Lawn (under development) and the historical Oak Allée, lined with towering trees draped in Spanish moss.

Conceptualized by renowned architect Bobby McAlpine in collaboration with Tippett Sease Baker Architecture of Atlanta, Silk Hope’s home designs are a fresh, inviting lowcountry take on the quaint cottages found in the country villages of rural France and England. 

120 Riceland Way offers ample private outdoor space and a sunlit, open floor plan designed for seamless indoor-outdoor living—ideal for enjoying the mild year-round weather here in the Georgia Lowcountry. Each Silk Hope home is crafted with durable materials such as brick, stone, slate roofs, board and batten and timber, all of which require minimal maintenance and improve over time. Whether a home for a season or for always, 120 Riceland Way is the perfect, hassle-free, lock-and-leave family retreat. 

Totaling 3,405 square feet—including the patio and heated garage—this home is set over two levels and features three bedrooms and three-and-a-half bathrooms. It is brimming with coveted amenities, including high tech smart home security, a versatile second-level office, large bedrooms and living spaces plus an outdoor patio, private walled garden and a heated and cooled garage with golf cart storage. Take a closer look below… 

Central Community Location 

120 Riceland Way is moments from Silk Hope’s many thoughtful community elements, including a community fire pit that overlooks the wildlife sanctuary (perfect for roasting s’mores by starlight) and a pristinely maintained water fountain with surrounding garden—a lovely stopping point during a morning walk or evening stroll. 

Spacious Living Room with Fireplace

Filled with natural light, this home’s main living room opens to the kitchen and features a wood-burning fireplace, high beamed ceilings, recessed lighting and hardwood floors.

Sleek, Open-Plan Kitchen

The hosting-ready, open-plan kitchen is outfitted with stainless steel Wolf and Sub-Zero appliances, stone countertops and custom white wood cabinetry. An oversized island seats three and is illuminated by eye-catching modern rustic pendant lights.

Sun-Filled Dining Room

Located by the front entry, the dining room area receives ample natural sunlight through floor-to-ceiling windows—plus soothing views of Silk Hope’s acres of surrounding greenery.

Naturally Bright Bedrooms

Every bedroom—including this inviting main floor primary suite—is replete with natural light and airy, high ceilings.

Grand Primary Suite Bath

The main level primary suite connects to a spa-like bath that boasts a standalone soaking tub, stone floors, dual vanities, custom cabinetry and a large steam shower.

Versatile Upper Level Loft

120 Riceland Way offers a second-level loft area, ideal for a home office, den or study area.

Generous Outdoor Space

Out back, find a private walled garden and a large covered porch complete with fan and lighting. This multi-functional outdoor room can host family, friends and guests in all seasons—thanks to the mild lowcountry climate.

A Day in the Life of a Kid at The Ford

Families have been vacationing or living full-time at The Ford Field & River Club for decades. With 1,800 acres of natural splendor filled with endless opportunities for fun and adventure, it’s the kind of place where new traditions come easily. 

The Ford’s magical setting delights adults and kids alike—young ones will love making friendships that will last a lifetime. Here are some of the unforgettable memories your kids will make—both with and without you—while at The Ford.

Interactive Lessons at the Naturalist Center & Oyster House

On-site naturalist Brittany Dodge makes learning about wildlife and the environment fun for all ages. Kids can learn how to live harmoniously with nature through habitat preservation activities, up-close encounters with wildlife creatures and explorations around the lowcountry grounds.

Cooling Off With an Epic Swim

The Ford has two swimming pools, one at The Main House and one at the Lake Dye Complex. While The Main House pool is best for leisurely days of sun and relaxation, the Lake Dye Pool is designed to be family-friendly, with a kiddie pool, hot tub and adjacent grill and Sports Barn. 

Fishing on the Ogeechee River

The Ford enjoys four miles of Ogeechee River frontage, perfect for fishing. The river supports a healthy ecosystem of freshwater fish, including largemouth bass (most abundant during the springtime), catfish, crappie and redbreast sunfish.

Horseback Riding Lessons

Kids of all skill levels are invited to take lessons and saddle up for trail rides at the on-site Equestrian Center. Members can board their own horses or borrow one of The Ford’s for a day of lessons or leisurely rides through the property’s 10 miles of trails. 

Golf on the Pete Dye-Designed Course

This scenic, award-winning course is open to golfers of every skill level. The no-tee-times course is challenging enough for pros, while still offering fun for the whole family. Kids can enjoy playing the course with their family or friends year-round, and every week, we offer a clinic for junior golfers to learn etiquette and rules and improve their game.

Enjoy a Little Healthy Competition

In and adjacent to the Sports Barn, find pickleball, tennis and squash courts; a dock for canoeing and kayaking and cycling trails. Adventure is calling, and here at The Ford, kids will have a blast answering on their terms.

Learn to Shoot Like Katniss with Archery Lessons

The Ford’s on-property archery range gives new shooters an opportunity to learn more about the sport and provides a setting for the seasoned archer to practice prior to an actual hunt. A wide variety of 3D targets, including deer and wild hog, replicates real hunting situations. As an added bonus, we also have a BB and pellet gun range for junior shooters. Members of the Outdoor Pursuits team assist in instructing all junior participants. Private archery lessons with the Atlas Target Thrower or at the 3D archery range are also available. 

Kids Crabbing and Shrimping

Kids will learn how to catch and clean crabs and use a cast net to catch shrimp from Lake Clara. This seasonal activity is an excellent way to expose children to some of the wonderful bounty of the Lowcountry. 

Nearby Attractions: Okefenokee Wildlife Refuge

There’s nothing quite like springtime in the South. Birdwatchers, wildlife enthusiasts, photographers—you all know how special the country is when the days get a little brighter and the weather a little warmer. With its 1,800 acres to explore, The Ford Field & River Club is a springtime paradise, and is the perfect starting point for so many excursions into prime, untouched lowcountry land.  

On April 16, members of The Ford and guests are invited to join our naturalist Brittany Dodge at the Deepwater Marina to set out for a springtime paddle of Okefenokee Wildlife Refuge—just two hours from home. Participants will meet at the Deepwater Marina, drive to the refuge then set out for some scenic adventures by kayak and canoe. 

Established as a refuge and breeding ground in 1937, the Okefenokee Wildlife Refuge comprises 353,981 acres of National Wilderness Area. It’s also considered a Wetland of International Importance as one of the world’s largest intact freshwater ecosystems. The Suwannee and St Marys Rivers both come to a head within the refuge. Visitors can explore the vast wilderness by hiking, canoeing, or kayaking, or on a guided boat tour.

Because of its protected status, the refuge supports a thriving ecosystem of extraordinary wildlife—from more than 600 species of plants to rare swamp animals, birds and more. Spring is the perfect time to visit, with water lilies in bloom and wildflowers coming to life on the canals of the swamp. Below, get a glimpse of what you might encounter on this day trip. Just remember: it’s infinitely better in person. 

5 Wildlife Species You Might Encounter at Okefenokee Wildlife Refuge:

1. American Alligator

With life spans of up to 50 years in the wild, the American alligator is one of the few native species without a natural predator (except for humans and the occasional adversarial alligator). Female a

lligators typically reach lengths of 8.2 feet, while males average around 11.2 feet. They’re found in freshwater—including rivers, swamps, and marshes—from North Carolina to Texas.

2. American Black Bear 

Once at risk of endangerment, the black bear has made a successful comeback—thanks to wildlife management and conservation efforts. Spring sightings of black bears are now fairly common within the South, especially if venturing into dense wooded or swamp regions. These solitary animals range in weight from 200 to 600 pounds, making them the smallest bear species in North America.

3. Red-cockaded Woodpecker

Taking up residence among the Longleaf Pine, these small woodpeckers are likely to be heard before they’re spotted. Keep your ears tuned to the sounds of nature and look out for a black-and-white striped back and white cheek. Though it’s unlikely to be seen without binoculars or a camera, the bird has one standout feature: a tiny red streak (“cockade”) at the top of its cheeks.

Image courtesy of

4. Gopher Tortoise

Protected under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), gopher tortoises are much smaller than you might imagine. Reaching weights of eight to fifteen pounds, these long-living reptiles (up to 100 years) are primarily herbivores. They provide invaluable services to the local ecosystem: their burrows offer shelter for smaller species, and their droppings spread seeds from many plants.

5. Sandhill Crane

Along the waters of the Okefenokee Wildlife Refuge, you’ll spot many wading birds. The most distinctive is arguably the sandhill crane—a tall, gray bird with a red “crown” at the top of its head. Keep your eyes peeled among tall grasses and shrubs, as you may spot a pair of these beauties nesting together.

5 Birds to Watch for at The Ford this Spring

Spring has arrived in the lowcountry, and The Ford’s 1,800 acres of oak groves, meadows and riverfront are buzzing with an array of winged friends—making now the perfect time to take up birding. Accessible to all ages, birding can be done in any part of the world, and it’s now the fastest-growing outdoor activity in America. According to a survey by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 51.3 million Americans report that they watch birds. And more are taking up the hobby all the time.

Come Sunday, March 28, members of The Ford and guests will be able to partake in the season’s Birding Bonanza, led by naturalist Brittany Dodge in partnership with the Ogeechee Audubon Society. During the two-hour event, members will receive a laminated photo field guide, The Ford bird checklist and a Bird Bingo game perfect for practicing one’s skills. 

“Backyard birding really kicks up a notch in spring time, since many birds we learn to recognize at our feeders over the winter are now getting ready for nesting season and looking for prime nesting sites,” says Brittany, who recommends the McAllister Dike trail and the Woodpecker Walking Trail as great (and somewhat secret) areas for birding at The Ford. 

“The coolest birds to me are the raptor-like songbirds, like the loggerheaded shrike or the mini-raptor, the kestrel,” says Brittany. “Though we rarely see these birds here at The Ford, there is one loggerheaded shrike that resides right in front of Lake Sterling, and I always get excited when I see him. I also love seeing the belted kingfishers when they show up during spring and summer, as well as ‘butterbutts’—or yellow rumped warblers. These warblers are true songbirds and pretty easy to spot here at The Ford.”

Brittany’s top tips for new birders? “Get a good set of binoculars and don’t get overwhelmed,” she says. “Learn a few basic birds that are easy to recognize and learn them well. You will eventually be able to distinguish the tougher birds. Going by color is a good start, but learning the silhouettes of birds are the most important!”

Below, we highlight five birds to watch—and listen—for this spring at The Ford. 

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

This petite, long-tailed forest-dwelling bird is known for its near-constant motion and high-pitched, rather rambling and squeaky calls—birders often hear a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher before they see it. 

Carolina Chickadee

Found in wooded areas, this jaunty chickadee sports a black cap and bib separated by stark white cheeks. Its call echoes its name: “chick-a-deee-deee-deee.” This is a great bird for first-timers to get acquainted with, as warblers and other migrating songbirds often associate with them—spot a chickadee and one will likely find many more species. 

Eastern Bluebird

A ground forager that lives in grasslands, both male and female Eastern Bluebirds boast the striking royal blue hue on their body, head and tail feathers. Their short, wavering call sounds like “tu-a-wee.” 

Tufted Titmouse

This stocky, soft grey and white songbird has a splash of peach under each wing and whistles out a call that sounds like “Peter-Peter-Peter.” It can be seen flitting through forest canopies, hanging from twig-ends and dropping into bird feeders.

Carolina Wren

While the cinnamon-hued Carolina Wren is shy and usually tricky to spot, there is no mistaking its call—one of its startlingly loud exclamations sounds like “teakettle-teakettle!” This wren resides in brushy thickets, lowland swamps, bottomland woods and ravines. 

Savannah Ranked No. 1 in the Nation for New Industry and Development

Living tucked away in The Ford’s magical riverfront setting can make it easy to forget that just 20 miles away is Savannah, our region’s beloved “Hostess City of the South.” Now, this vibrant historic city has a fresh new accolade—the publication Site Selection recently ranked Savannah as the nation’s number one city for new industry and job creating developments. 

Rising to the top spot from number 12 in last year’s rankings, Savannah is a burgeoning economic powerhouse. Site Selection highlighted the growth of the Port of Savannah, Gulfstream Aerospace and local e-commerce retailers in their ranking decisions.

Savannah’s continued growth expands the opportunities for cosmopolitan adventures for members of The Ford, many of whom already enjoy revelling in the charm of Savannah’s cobblestone streets and oak-shaded parks, and exploring its captivating selection of independent boutiques, award-winning restaurants, buzzing bars and breweries, historic buildings and contemporary museums. 

Enjoying a day or a whole weekend in Savannah may entail everything from embarking on horse-drawn carriage rides to catching live music performances. There’s already ample charm to city outings, but with this historic surge in Savannah’s development, we can expect to see even more exciting possibilities in months and years ahead.

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