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The Ford Named Top Second-Home Destination for Families

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The Ford Field & River Club makes headlines in Luxury Magazine’s Summer issue, featuring the publication’s annual Home Guide. In a story titled “Forever Homes,” writer Irene Rawlings speaks to the allure affluent buyers have for a forever ‘escape home’ and the trending shift toward making one’s summer home in the country a primary home base.

Rawlings recommends The Ford for families seeking the “less stressful, more relaxing pace of life offered by living in the [low]country.” She adds: “[The Ford] offer[s] both adventure and culture, giving homeowners the option of not having to choose so starkly between the excitement of the city and the restorative powers of nature.”

Speaking on the many amenities at The Ford, Rawlings mentions: “Of course, bring your horse. The Equestrian Center is a full-service boarding facility set across seven lush acres. Kids’ programs include day camp, trail rides, expert-led archery, and shooting tutorials, supervised fishing excursions plus golf, tennis, and pickleball clinics.”

Read the full article here. See why living at The Ford is meant for you. View available listings and schedule a tour of The Ford Field & River Club today.

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3 Places to Visit By Boat from The Ford Field & River Club

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There’s nothing quite like the bliss of an open expanse of water on a beautiful, sunny day full of promise and adventure. Here at The Ford Field & River Club, life happens on the water just as much as it does on land. A sprawling 1,800 lush acres of salt marsh grass, lakes and century-old live oaks make up the breathtaking natural setting of The Ford. When you live at The Ford, you can also be within reach of hundreds of nearby attractions—many of which are accessible by boat.

We’ve gathered three of our favorite places to visit nearby, all accessible by boat:

 

Fish Tales Restaurant

Food, atmosphere, and kind service—Fish Tales has it all. Located along the Ogeechee River, Fish Tales has the best seafood you could imagine. This casual dining destination makes a perfect pit stop while you’re out of the water for the day. Connected to Fish Tales is Fort McAllister Marina, where you can park your boat and head right on in.

Don’t miss their fried shrimp baskets and world-famous hushpuppies, rumored to be a family recipe passed down through generations. If you catch a fish during your boating adventures, Fish Tales will gladly cook your catch. A stunning setting for the sunset, Fish Tales is known by members of The Ford for good food and good fun that everyone in the family can enjoy. Come by for happy hour and live music!

 

Fort McAllister State Park

This historic riverside Civil War fort features a museum, biking and hiking trails, and educational programs and tours. Canoes, kayaks and paddle boards are also available to rent. Filled with opportunities to see wildlife and explore the outdoors, Fort McAllister State Park makes a great stop while you’re out on the water.

Pack lunch and bring a blanket for an impromptu picnic on the grass, or if camping is your style, the park also offers 67 tent, trailer and RV campsites. Set on 1,725 acres, you’ll have more than enough to explore. Boat ramps, dock and fishing pier available.

 

Wassaw Island National Wildlife Refuge

If you’re headed out farther by boat, be sure to make a stop at Wassaw National Wildlife Refuge. This stunning habitat provides a home for an array of migratory birds and countless creatures. As part of the chain of barrier islands along the Atlantic Flyway, Wassaw Island is blissfully uncrowded, feeling almost like your own private island. 

Anchor just off shore to enjoy over 10,000 acres of pristine land filled with wildlife and natural greenery at this hidden gem within reach of The Ford by boat. From sunrise to sunset, enjoy all the beauty the outdoors has to offer at Wassaw Island.

 

Looking for more exciting activities happening close to The Ford? Read our Neighborhood Spotlight: Richmond Hill.

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The Ease of No Tee Times at The Ford’s Pete Dye-Designed Golf Course

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A game at your own pace—that’s the benefit of teeing up at The Ford. When you live at The Ford Field & River Club, you have exclusive access to our 250-acre golf course designed by famed architect, Pete Dye. No tee times mean you can sink into an unhurried game, stay awhile, and socialize with fellow players. Our members arrive on time, every time, when any time is tee time.

The parkland-style front nine and links-style back nine of the course are distinctly designed, making for two different types of engaging rounds of play. Our highly-coveted course has been host to the Georgia Open five times in the past six years. Picking up a casual game of golf at moment’s notice is part of life at The Ford. Socialize with fellow members while playing in a breathtaking natural setting—there’s never a rush.

See why the simple luxury of no tee times makes all the difference:

 

Play Golf at Your Own Leisure

The game of golf has become more popular than ever in recent years. Over 24.8 million people sought out the sport in 2020 alone, and today, it’s becoming a favorite outdoor activity among all ages.

Now, heightened interest means new players are flocking to the course, while experienced golfers are looking to play more rounds than previously. While it’s great for the sport, the increased demand often leads to difficulty scheduling tee times and shorter, hurried games at many public and private courses alike.

Practice your swing and stay awhile. Here, there’s never a worry about having a spot on the course—because no tee times are required. On other courses, missing a tee time can mean having to wait to play or not playing at all. At The Ford, no tee times give our members flexibility and control over their own game.

 

Bring the Entire Family

As a refuge in the Lowcountry, The Ford cultivates a sense of community both on and off the green. Our course welcomes players of every age and skill level, so parents can bring their children for a round of golf at any time.

Coined “very playable” by many of our members, the course offers golfers the option of a challenging route through bunkers and hazards or an easier alternative by avoiding them altogether.

Fostering the connection between family members is a key component of life at The Ford. The lack of tee times allows members of all ages the opportunity to start a game at a moment’s notice—any time the occasion calls for it.

 

Return for Multiple Rounds

A course made for you. With no tee times, our members can play a round of golf more than once a day. Renovated by Pete Dye in 2014, our course has received high praise from national publications such as Golfweek, Golf Digest and LINKS Magazine.

You’ll want to return to our award-winning course, which features two distinct landscapes between the front and back nine courses. Just steps from your own home lie both a parkland-style and a links-style course, offering an immersive experience switching between tall grasses, birds, and views of the estuary on one course and towering pines, oak trees, and ponds on the other.

Return to The Ford for unlimited golf, at your leisure.

 

Interested in more reasons to love living at The Ford? Take a look at The Joys of The Ford’s Lowcountry and Low-density Setting.

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4 Family-Friendly Activities Happening this Memorial Day

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This Memorial Day, a number of family-friendly events are happening right here at The Ford and in the neighboring cities of Savannah and Richmond Hill. Living at The Ford Field & River Club means you’re close to everything the Lowcountry has to offer, including holiday festivities, parades, and coastal activities along the Ogeechee River and the Atlantic. Mark your calendars for these all-ages activities you’re sure to enjoy with your entire family, as we all come together to commemorate those who have died in the line of duty.

Pool Party & Cookout at The Ford

Starting summer off on the right foot is easy when you live at The Ford. This Memorial Day, we’re hosting a barbecue at Lake Dye Grill exclusively for owners at The Ford, where neighbors can mix, mingle and catch up over food and drinks.

There’s nothing like a classic summer barbecue, and this year, the kids will love the Jenni’s Treats on the Street ice cream truck. Enjoy an afternoon basking in the sun and catching up with neighbors this Memorial Day at The Ford. We’ll see you poolside!

 

Shabazz Seafood Festival

Whether you’re craving shrimp, crab, or fish, at the Shabazz Seafood Festival, you’ll find it all. The festival is back this year for Memorial Day Weekend at this favorite spot among locals and tourists alike. Serving the best fish in Savannah, GA, since 1989, Shabazz Seafood Restaurant is known for its generous portions and warm hospitality. 

The bright yellow building on the corner of Victory Drive and Martin Luther King Boulevard has also recently caught the eyes of Hollywood as the focal point of the new Netflix show, Fresh, Fried, & Crispy. Come out to enjoy the Shabazz Seafood Platter, which includes Shabazz fish, shrimp, crab, fries, and salad.

When: Friday, May 27 through Monday, May 30, 12:00pm – 8:00pm

Where: Shabazz Seafood Restaurant, 502 West Victory Drive, Savannah, GA 31405

Cost: $25 per platter

 

Memorial Day Commemoration

Join in the commemoration at Fort McAllister State Park in Richmond Hill and pay tribute to soldiers who lost their lives while serving. Watch living history reenactments all day long, including musket firing. Tour the fort, museum, and grounds of Fort McAllister along the shores of the Ogeechee River.

Kids will love learning about U.S. history during this event celebrating our nation’s roots. Participate and explore the grounds while celebrating Memorial Day.

When: Saturday, May 28, 10:00am – 3:00pm

Where: Fort McAllister State Park, 3894 Fort McAllister Road, Richmond Hill, GA 31324

Cost: $5-9

 

“Savannah Salutes” at Plant Riverside District

Known across Savannah as the epicenter of entertainment, Plant Riverside District will host a special “Savannah Salutes” event featuring live music and aerial performances along with a wide variety of delicious food and drink options for all ages. Bring your own blanket and listen to blues, soul, funk, and rock music while picnicking on the grass.

Throughout the holiday weekend, Plant Riverside District’s iconic smokestacks, fountains and other landmarks will be illuminated with red, white and blue lights after dark. Even better, a patriotic salute will be conducted during nightly fountain shows in Martin Luther King, Jr. Park.

When: Friday, May 27,  1:00 PM through Monday, May 30, 10:00 PM 

Where: Plant Riverside District, 400 West River Street, Savannah, GA 31401

Cost: Free

 

From our family to yours at The Ford Field & River Club, Happy Memorial Day! To explore all that The Ford’s coveted location has to offer, discover what’s nearby and noteworthy.

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The Joys of The Ford’s Lowcountry and Low-density Setting

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The Lowcountry is undeniably special. Those who live at The Ford Field & River Club see this each day—through the comforts of a sprawling coastal setting where the natural scenery coincides with a slower pace of life. The low-density of the land also means each member has the space to connect intimately with nature and take advantage of the amenities available exclusively to members of The Ford.

See why a low-density setting in the Lowcountry is meant for you:

Freedom to Explore

The less-populated living at The Ford means our residents have the room to explore virtually untouched land. Unlike other communities in the Lowcountry, The Ford—set on 1,800 acres of storied land and waterways—is low-density, which provides our residents the opportunity to make the most of every amenity available. Even better, the connections made at The Ford transform into a thriving community where neighbors are friends and friends are family.

Exercise and Recreation

Fresh air can’t be beat by much else. In a low-density setting such as The Ford, recreational activities surround you at every turn. Whether it’s fishing in the Deepwater Marina or getting close-up with nature at the Naturalist Center, the chance to seek outdoor activities are endless.  The Ford’s recreational activities—which offer plenty of health and exercise benefits—are designed to be enjoyed together. The low-density aspect of our land means you’ll have more time to spend doing the things you love, with the ones you love—no crowds in the way.

An Intimate Connection with Nature

Verdant wetlands, tidal creeks, ponds, lakes and woodlands at The Ford have all been preserved with care. When you live at The Ford, you’re situated right along Georgia’s great Ogeechee River. The allure of Spanish moss, which sways in the light breeze, is unique to the Lowcountry, rekindling stories of the past. Our residents wake up to gentle sunlight and breathe easy as the sun fades away into the surrounding waters, finding moments of peace and welcome solitude.

Golf with No Tee Times

Our award-winning, 250-acre Pete Dye-designed golf course requires no tee times, so you and your family can pick up a game at any time. Shaped by freshwater lakes, lush meadows and scenic coastline, our golf course immerses you in an experience that’s as much as a sport as it is a wildlife tour. Our residents at The Ford can enjoy exclusive access to an unhurried game, at their own leisure—yet another benefit of our low-density setting in the Lowcountry.

Year-Round Coastal Climate

The Ford’s easy climate basks in sunshine and blue skies for nine months out of the year. For the majority of days spent at The Ford, weather is temperate, inviting families to pursue favorite outdoor activities, like golf, horseback riding, and fishing. Mild winters—from December through February—see average daytime highs in the low 60s. Coastal breezes draw our residents in, while the ever-present warmth of Southern hospitality remains year-round. 

 

Whether you come to call The Ford home or a retreat for the season, an uncommon way of life awaits.

 

Interested in more reasons to love living at The Ford? Take a look at Why We Chose The Ford: Video Highlights Experience of New Member Family.

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Southern Living Names Savannah No. 2 “South’s Best City”

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Part of the appeal of The Ford Field & River Club is its proximity to some of the best cities, landmarks, and natural attractions that the South has to offer. One of these is the quintessential Southern city of Savannah, Georgia, just a 30-minute drive from The Ford. And it’s just claimed the number-two spot on Southern Living’s “The South’s Best Cities 2022” list

“Stroll through Savannah, and it will become one of your favorite Southern cities too,” says the article. And for those who’ve spent even a short amount of time in this locale, this statement couldn’t ring any truer. Savannah is inarguably a Southern treasure—filled with rich history, world-class eateries, stunning natural beauty, and vibrant culture.

“The lush squares and beautiful architecture make it a favorite for weekend trips,” the article continues. “Start on the riverfront for pralines from historic sweet shops and dinner with waterfront views, and then head into the walkable districts farther inland.”

In addition to the overall city rating, Southern Living recognized some of Savannah’s finest: Wiley’s Championship BBQ was named “The Best BBQ in Georgia,” while Back in the Day Bakery earned the number-one spot on the “South’s Best Bakeries” list.

Curious about the rest of the lists and winners? View all of “The South’s Best 2022” content on the Southern Living website.

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The Ford Chef’s Go-To Spring Recipes Using Garden-Grown Ingredients

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Springtime is officially here, which means Edsel Community Farm — The Ford’s very own organic garden — is flourishing with fresh produce and veggies that’ll be transformed into our members’ favorite dishes. To learn more about what we can expect to find on the table this season, we asked The Ford’s Executive Chef, Frank Chiasera, to share his go-to springtime recipes from The Ford’s beautiful garden— all below.

 

What are some of the fruits, vegetables and herbs you grow at The Ford? 

We have a myriad of fruit trees planted next to the garden in our Silk Hope neighborhood that include kumquat, lime, tangelo, grapefruit, tangerine and oranges. These are available for both the culinary team and the membership. We use fresh herbs year round at The Ford, almost all of which are grown here on property. Basil, oregano, mint, chives, cilantro, parsley, dill, sage and rosemary are just some of the many fresh herbs that enhance the member dining experience. 

Edsel Community Farm, our organic garden, is where the majority of our gardening efforts reside. We grow organic vegetables year round, rotating crops based upon seasonality, to ensure that our membership receives the freshest, finest, highest quality ingredients in our dining rooms at the Clubhouse and the Lake Dye Grill. 

 

Why do you think it’s important to use seasonal produce in your dishes? 

Fresh produce simply tastes better. There’s something so special about products that go straight from the garden to the table with no manipulation of the ingredients. 

What do you love most about having fresh produce and herbs at your fingertips at The Ford? 

It allows for infinite possibilities and sparks the creative imagination of the entire culinary team. We’re lucky to be able to harvest only the freshest, highest quality ingredients and provide a uniquely personalized culinary experience for our members.

What are your favorite springtime main dish recipes that use site-grown produce? 

With so many site-grown ingredients available to us, we love cooking vegetarian dishes in a variety of ways, using only the freshest ingredients and creating these unique dining experiences for our members and their guests. One week it may be a Moroccan-themed vegetarian experience, the next week may be a Mediterranean vegetarian experience, and the next may very well be showcasing the true southern experience of coastal Georgia. The possibilities are endless, and the team and I embrace the opportunity to showcase Edsel Community Farm and share this bounty with others. 

What about your favorite springtime dessert recipes that showcase site-grown produce? 

At Edsel Community Farm, we grow our own strawberries, blackberries and blueberries. One of my favorite springtime desserts is an Edsel Farm fresh fruit Sabayon using these fruits. The tartness and the sweetness of these berries are a wonderful complement to the warm, soft-light sabayon foam that literally melts in your mouth. It’s a perfect way to finish off a springtime meal in that it’s light yet foreshadows the bounty that comes from the summer harvest. It makes for a delicious end to any meal. 

 

Explore all that The Ford’s Clubhouse has to offer here

 

Suggested Recipes:

 

Mediterranean Bean Salad

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 15 oz can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 15- oz can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 15- oz can garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained and rinsed
  • 1 green bell pepper, cored and chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, cored and chopped
  • ½ English cucumber, diced
  • 1 cup chopped red onions
  • 1 ½ tablespoon capers, drained
  • 1 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 10-15 fresh mint leaves, torn or gently chopped
  • 10-15 fresh basil leaves, torn or gently chopped
  • Garlic Dijon Vinaigrette
  • 1-2 garlic cloves minced
  • ½ tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and black pepper

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the beans, chopped peppers, onions, capers and fresh herbs. Mix using a wooden spoon.
  2. In a small bowl, add the vinaigrette ingredients. Whisk vigorously to combine.
  3. Add the vinaigrette to the salad bowl. Toss to coat.
  4. For best results, cover and refrigerate for a bit before serving so that beans soak up the vinaigrette flavors. Give the salad another quick toss before serving.

Sabayon

INGREDIENTS 

  • 4 egg yolks
  • 4 tablespoons water
  • 4 tablespoons of dessert wine (your choice)
  • 4 tablespoons of white sugar

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Pour a few inches of water into a pan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low to keep water at a simmer. Combine egg yolks, water, wine, and sugar in a large heat-proof bowl and set above the simmering water. Cook, whisking constantly with a balloon whisk, until sugar is dissolved and mixture starts to thicken, about 2 minutes.
  2. Continue cooking and whisking until sabayon is the texture of mousse and holds its shape, 15 to 20 minutes. Lift the bowl occasionally to let steam escape and keep eggs from overcooking. Serve immediately.

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Architect Christian Sottile Talks Inspiration & Collaboration Behind the Newest Silk Hope Homes

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Set amidst a wild expanse of grassy fields and moss-draped live oaks, Silk Hope is The Ford Field & River Club’s newest residential enclave where contemporary, English village-inspired homes offer families a dream-worthy lowcountry retreat. And since every immaculate square foot of Silk Hope started with just a small idea, we wanted to learn more from one of the visionary architects himself: Christian Sottile of the award-winning, Savannah-based firm, Sottile & Sottile. Below, we discuss design, inspiration, collaboration and more, all of which unveils Silk Hope’s elegant modern character and authentic historical roots.

 

What was the inspiration behind the design of the homes in Silk Hope?

Silk Hope Village is a unique expression of timeless, lowcountry architecture. The homes evoke a scale, character and material palette that are timeless, honest and noble. Informed by the English heritage of provincial settlements, the homes are characterized by an informal massing that evokes the English and French derivations found in the lowcountry. The Silk Hope homes are set within a walkable village setting, enjoying interior and exterior views with personal courtyard gardens and generous community green spaces. These homes embody a simpler lifestyle deeply rooted in the picturesque lowcountry landscape.

Describe the Silk Hope enclave in three words.  

Timeless, elevated, authentic.

What details have to be considered when designing a collection of new homes within an established community?  

Within the Silk Hope neighborhood, designing with a very special context in mind was an important foundation for the overall process. There was a distinct focus on the setting being very pedestrian-friendly, so we made sure to include features such as walking paths that reveal numerous views and linked to all of Silk Hope’s shared amenities, such as the Great Lawn, walking gardens and fireside gathering place. Each of the Silk Hope homes is designed to build on the vision and character of this unique neighborhood.

What’s your favorite element of the Silk Hope home designs?  

Their quality, intimacy and timelessness. These exquisite homes are composed of simple, refined detailing and are constructed using authentic “forever” materials such as brick, slate, timber and copper, which require minimal maintenance and, in fact, continue to improve in beauty and value over time as they patina. I also love that, if they enter the process at the right time, buyers can choose their preferred materials for our built-to-suit homes, like 80 Riceland Way and 134 Riceland Way. This allows homeowners to add their own touch to the home, which makes it even more special and unique. 

What sets Silk Hope apart from other enclaves within The Ford? 

The design for Silk Hope created a refreshingly unique neighborhood within the Ford Field & River Club. It centers on the idea of community and well-being through a series of walkable neighborhood experiences, knitting together community features such as the generous Great Lawn, the historic oak allée and the adjacent Wildlife Sanctuary. 

What is your favorite community feature of the new Silk Hope enclave? 

I feel a great sense of well-being when I walk through Silk Hope’s interconnected community spaces—from the majestic oak allée, across the expansive Great Lawn, to the intimate landscape on Riceland Way and onward to the Wildlife Sanctuary. 

Which Silk Hope home design is your personal favorite, and why? 

Each of these homes has such a unique personality — from the graciously sloping roofs to generous expanses of windows, all set within a material palette of the highest quality. 

I really enjoy the airiness of the living spaces in 96 Riceland Way, which is a turn-key, Longleat Village home. The kitchen opens to the main living room, which has these amazing soaring ceilings—it’s just a wonderfully bright, inviting home. And I also love the elegant bay window and side porch entrance on the Foxley design. It’s a wonderful blend of the Savannah and Charleston traditions.

What value has your collaboration on these designs offered? 

Developing the master plan and the overall community vision for Silk Hope has been a world-class collaboration with the McAlpine and Tippett Sease Baker team. Sottile & Sottile’s many years of experience in the lowcountry, and our deep understanding of nationally registered historic districts, provides meaningful insight into how these designs will contribute to the longevity of this very special place. We are witness to a moment in history as the elements being set in place today will endure for centuries to come. We see these homes as jewel boxes, each with a special contribution to the full, vibrant fabric of the neighborhood.

 

Learn more about real estate at The Ford Field & River Club here

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4 Innovative Ways The Ford’s Audubon Committee is Conserving Lowcountry

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Through careful planning, wildlife and habitat management, water conservation and education, The Ford is proud to have earned Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program Certification — an acclaimed recognition for environmental achievements and leadership around the globe. We sat down with Valerie Foradas, Chair of the Audubon Committee at The Ford since 2016.  Read on to learn how the community commits to conserving the Lowcountry while engaging its members in a fun, out-of-the-box way.

Bluebird & Bat Boxes

Throughout The Ford’s 1,800-acre community, you can find more than 100 bird and bat boxes designed to foster a safe, sustainable environment for the native species while simultaneously enhancing the living experience for residents. The community – from young children to their grandparents – have worked in tandem with our Naturalists to build and install a variety of bird boxes that are elevated and protected with a metal ring around the entrance to fend off larger creatures like snakes and raccoons. “One of the commitments of Audubon Certification is to make sure that we’re nurturing the environment in sustainable and sympathetic ways,” said Valerie. “Locating bat boxes up in our tree canopy allows us to attract migrating bats passing through that feed on our mosquitos and midges here in the Low Country – one of the more natural solutions to pest management.  The migrating bats cycle through and return — it’s the rhythm of nature,” shared Valerie. 

Native Plant Sale

Another way The Ford aims to enhance the environment and educate residents is through the annual Spring Native Plant Sale.  The Ford Press, the weekly digital community newsletter, lists the plants available for purchase beginning in February, with delivery in April.  The Audubon Committee teams up with local growers to bring a wide variety of native species to residents’ backyards and beyond. “We’ve planted over 2,000 native plants inside of our five-year plan,” Valerie said.  “If we have found the right spot, the plants thrive down here.  We have had several fun educational opportunities to learn about suitable plants and trees here at The Ford including ‘Buds + Suds” — a gathering that featured local beers and native plants suitable for our environment, shining a light on what tends to grow best.” 

The Ford’s BioBlitz

The BioBlitz is a fun, highly anticipated annual tournament wherein teams of residents compete to photograph and identify native species. The competition is a helpful tool for understanding species diversity in the region and highlights the  unique biodiversity found on The Ford’s grounds. The  Ford’s Naturalists monitor the residents’ photos and help with species identification; a photography competition centers on the rarest plant, bird or animal species. Throughout the competition, new discoveries are frequently made by The Ford’s citizen scientists and all information is shared with an online database for further scientific study.  In fact, during the most recent BioBlitz project,  when more than 1,100 species were identified, team “Nature Nurturers”  spotted rare roseate spoonbills and  eastern phoebes, which hadn’t been seen in the area for several years. “One photograph taken and posted by Cheryl Chip—with the help of her BioBlitz teammates, Dawn French and her husband—showed  the eastern phoebe, which is a flycatcher, eating a Chinese Tallow tree seed and thereby possibly spreading the seeds of this invasive tree,” Valerie recalls. “Scientists studying this bird species and their behavior  were immediately all over the posted sighting and reached out to Cheryl for more information about the circumstances.” 

Monarch’s in the Rough and Monarch Watch Site Designation

The Ford’s “Monarch’s in the Rough” program is the result of partnership between Audubon International, the Environmental Defense Fund and the United States Golf Association. The Program’s goal:   to reverse habitat loss for Monarchs by planting and seeding with butterfly weed vast expanses of “out of play” areas on golf courses that can act as migratory paths for Monarch butterflies throughout North America.  “We’re able to help reverse the decline of these important pollinators by planting designated areas along The Ford’s Pete Dye-designed golf course,” says Valerie. “We ended up with several acres worth of seed to put on our front and back nine that combined native wildflower seeds with seeds from this Program. Then, as part of our native plant sale, we’re able to install different kinds of Asclepias — the milkweeds that are native to this area, and the primary host plant for Monarchs.”  Annual butterfly counts lead by our Naturalists, help our citizen scientist residents contribute to databases tracked by many nature-based organizations including Monarch Watch that track migratory paths of pollinators. 

To learn more about The Ford Field & River Club or to arrange a Discovery Visit, call Danielle Hopper at 912.756.5614 or email dhopper@fordfieldandriverclub.com.

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From Dream to Reality: A Special Look at The Ford’s Home Design Process

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At The Ford Field & River Club, members can create their very own lowcountry retreat inspired by the region’s most beloved architecture styles. “There’s a little bit of everything here at The Ford,” says Tom Draffin, Director of Association Management and member of The Ford’s architectural review board. 

In this video, Tom describes the distinct style of a few Ford neighborhoods, from the bright, contemporary English-cottage-inspired homes in the new SIlk Hope enclave to the grand, two-level historic Savannah-style riverview homes in McAllister Point. Tom also explains how The Ford’s construction and design teams help make the process of building your dream home as effortless as possible. 

“Our architects, landscape architects and contractors are used to building these types of homes and therefore it’s really a congenial, collaborative process from the initial design to final product,” says Draffin. “One of the neat things about being part of the architectural review process is that you get to see a home start from an idea and (become) a reality. And you get to see the excitement of the family moving in—and we have the same excitement as they do.” 

To learn more about The Ford Field & River Club or to arrange a Discovery Visit, call Danielle Hopper at 912.756.5614 or email dhopper@fordfieldandriverclub.com

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A Waterfront Family Home Designed for Memorable Moments

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Jeff and Teresa Fusile open the doors to the waterfront home they designed and built at The Ford Field & River Club. The couple reveals what the homebuilding process was like at The Ford and how the home’s design honors their family’s past, present and future.

Before they could break ground on their dream home, the Fusiles had to find the perfect homesite. They chose a tranquil property on The Ford’s Lake Habersham for its natural beauty and central community location, mere moments from private lakes, the Ogeechee River, The Ford’s Equestrian Center and Pete Dye Championship golf course. The homesite’s setting met the needs of the entire family—Jeff and Teresa are avid golfers, while their children enjoy horseback riding and cast net fishing.

When it came time to design and build their home, the Fusiles collaborated closely with The Ford’s development team, which provided support and guidance at every turn. “(The Ford) was really helpful in identifying architects, builders and selecting the right folks for us’ they got us through the process almost effortlessly, quite frankly.” says Jeff, who also remarked on the high level of collaboration with the contractor. “With our builder…it was just a wonderful experience of give and take. We were in it together…and we were building something with someone (we) really trusted and felt comfortable with.”

When it came to aesthetics, Jeff and Teresa wanted to fuse elements that felt both timeworn and contemporary. The resulting home design is an eclectic yet timeless blend of warm farmhouse, Colonial and European styles.

A key element of the interiors is the use of hearty brick masonry. More than 250,000 antique bricks were used to craft dramatic archways that lead to airy interior living spaces, which are ideal for hosting friends, and eventually, grandkids.

“We intend to have our children come home with their families. We want to have friends come over, we want to all be together,” says Jeff. “We want the doors to go wide open and for you to not know whether you are inside or outside.”

To create a seamless indoor-outdoor flow, the home was designed with a set of five French doors, which open to a large covered porch overlooking Habersham Lake and the golf course beyond.

Watch the video to hear more about the Fusile family’s home building experience, life at The Ford and more. To arrange a Discovery Visit, call Danielle Hopper at 912.756.5614 or email dhopper@fordfieldandriverclub.com.

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A Day on the Water at The Ford: Adventures on the Ogeechee River & Beyond

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From fishing, kayaking and water-skiing to swimming and island-hopping, when The Ford Field & River Club is home, unforgettable water adventures are on deck year-round. 

Members can request expert-led excursions from the Deepwater Marina and explore The Ford’s four miles of Ogeechee River frontage, nearby Ossabaw Sound and the Intracoastal Waterway—all of which represent some of the finest marine and freshwater habitats in the Southeast. Anglers of all skill levels will delight in fishing for bass, trout, snapper, triple tail and red fish. 

When exploration calls, residents can motor out to Ossabaw Island for private picnics and relaxed, island-to-yourself beach days filled with dolphin-watching. Farther out are St. Simons, Jekyll and Amelia Islands, each offering their own unique wildlife, scenic beaches and sandy terrain. 

Before heading home, be sure to stop by Fish Tales for fried fish baskets and hit-the-spot hushpuppies. Casual and family-friendly, this riverfront restaurant at Richmond Hill’s Fort McAllister marina is a longtime favorite among Ford members. 

For more on nearby water adventures at The Ford, read Best On-Water Excursions That Are Just a Boat Ride Away

To learn more about The Ford Field & River Club or to arrange a Discovery Visit, call Danielle Hopper at 912.756.5614 or email dhopper@fordfieldandriverclub.com

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Marc Ray Named 2021 Club Executive of the Year

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The Ford Field & River Club is proud to announce that Club Management magazine has named General Manager Marc Ray the2021 Club Executive of the Year.

Club Management annually recognizes the best in club leadership with this prestigious award. It is presented to the club management professional who embodies professionalism within their club and community—embracing mentoring, creating a club culture that supports the staff team through ongoing educational opportunities and crisis assistance, and supporting and impacting their local community.

“To professionals in the club industry, this is the equivalent of being selected as the league MVP for the NBA or NFL,” noted Club President Jeff Fusile in an announcement to The Ford members earlier this month. “It is truly a stunning accomplishment, and we are proud to have Marc at the helm of our team.”

“I am truly humbled to have been selected by my peers in the industry for this award,” says Marc, who joined The Ford Field & River Club in 2015 and has more than 23 years of experience in the club industry. “No one does this alone, and I believe it says more about the incredible volunteer leaders who have shared their intellectual capital with me, The Ford membership and the extraordinary team members that I am privileged to work with.”

Among Marc’s many accomplishments over his six-year tenure as General Manager are his curation of numerous engaging community events (including The Ford’s beloved Homecoming festivities and new Master Chef Dinner), his proactive preparedness for emergencies such as hurricanes, as well as steadfast leadership throughout the last 18 months of the COVID-19 pandemic. “Marc’s exceptional, prompt and thoughtful guidance set our Club apart and ensured a successful operation for both members and staff,” says Fusile. 

In the last three years, Marc has also coordinated The Ford’s Club and POA Boards, committees, members, developers, marketing and club professionals, and management team to focus on goals to stimulate real estate sales, strengthen The Ford’s membership base and build out its marketing program. “His efforts have produced a range of successful results,” says Fusile. “Our membership is growing, usage is at an all-time high, discovery visits will well exceed our goals and amenity revenues are positive to budgeted goals.”

“This is arguably the most exciting time ever at Ford,” says Marc. “We have embarked on a path forward with the final build-out of remaining homesites, which has already resulted in a vibrancy within the membership that is positive and palpable. Today, I am most looking forward to sharing The Ford experience with others. For too long, Ford was arguably the best kept secret in the Club world. No more. I know I mirror the membership, the community and the staff when I say that we are excited to welcome the next generation of members into our Ford family.”

Marc will be featured in the January/February 2022 issue of Club Management magazine, profiled in a forthcoming edition of the Let’s Talk Club Management Podcast and honored in person at the 2022 CMAA World Conference and Club Business Expo in San Diego, CA in February 2022. 

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Why We Chose The Ford: Video Highlights Experience of New Member Family

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In this new video, Brad and Carrie Brookshire, new members of The Ford Field & River Club, reveal what the experience has been like becoming a part of The Ford’s private, 1,800-acre riverfront community.

Discover what drew them to their home in Cherry Hill Village, their favorite family-friendly Ford amenities, what has impressed them the most and why The Ford’s location—just 20 miles from Savannah—is one of its greatest features.

“If I had to describe The Ford and our experience here…I always say it’s unique and it’s rare,” says Brad. “Here, there’s something for every member of the family to enjoy. It’s a great place—a place we wanted to raise our kids. And that’s why we’re here.”

To learn more about The Ford Field & River Club or to arrange a Discovery Visit, call Danielle Hopper at 912.756.5614 or email dhopper@fordfieldandriverclub.com.

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An Ode to The Ford: Our Homecoming 2021 Celebration

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Every year, The Ford members look forward to our Homecoming celebration. It’s a weeklong ode to our property, its history, and the people who live and play at The Ford. Filled with food, friends, and festivities, the events are a highlight of the year for our members and staff alike. This year’s events included tournaments, trivia, and the not-to-be-missed Homecoming Gala. Below, get a glimpse of the Homecoming 2021 celebration at The Ford.

 

Friendly Competition

If there’s one thing our members love, it’s good ol’ fashioned friendly competition. Throughout Homecoming week, we hosted competitions for members of all ages. From pickleball to the annual homecoming tournament to blackjack and craps, members got to challenge themselves and each other in the spirit of friendly competition all week long.

Kid-Approved Fun

The Ford is beloved by members of all ages, and we wanted to show our appreciation for even the youngest crowd throughout the week. We hosted a variety of kids-only and family-friendly events and activities to engage and delight. These included a watercolor class, a kids’ night hike, an extraordinary fireworks show, and the crowd-favorite ferris wheel and the spectacular views from its top.

The Annual Oyster Roast

On Friday night, we celebrated a treasured Ford tradition of seeing old friends and meeting new ones at the Oyster House during our Homecoming Oyster Roast. Members enjoyed freshly roasted oysters, boiled shrimp, small bites, and cocktails among great company. 

Viva La Ford! – Homecoming Gala

Arguably the highlight of the week for most of our members, our Homecoming Gala was a night of extravagance—not soon to be forgotten. Members arrived dressed to the nines, enjoyed hors d’oeuvres and cocktails, played casino games, danced and socialized, and ended the night with a bang with a fireworks show.

 

Click here to learn more about life at The Ford.

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Best On-Water Excursions That Are Just a Boat Ride Away

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One of the nicest things about living in the Georgia Lowcountry is that the transition between seasons tends to be gradual. Even though fall is upon us, we can comfortably enjoy some of summer’s best summer activities year-round—from boat rides and beach days to outdoor dining and more. For those looking to spend some extra time on the water this season, here’s a list of our favorite coastal and riverside stops, each accessible by either car or boat.

1. A Guided Island Tour

This time of year, Ossabaw and Wassaw Islands will feel like your own private oasis. Venture out for a day of solitude—looking out for dolphins or casting a line and seeing what fish you can catch. While you can easily access these islands on your own, we recommend a guided tour—departing from The Ford’s Deepwater Marina, with one of our experts from the Outdoor Pursuits Program as your captain. Be sure to make a stop at one of our favorite restaurants below on the way back!

2. Dinner & Live Music at Fish Tales, Richmond Hill

Located along the banks of the Ogeechee River, Fish Tales is a favorite restaurant among The Ford members. Serving up a rotating selection of fresh fish, delectable fried seafood baskets and famous hushpuppies, it’s fun for the whole family. Take a look at their website for menu details and visit their Instagram page for specials and upcoming events—from live music to boat parades and more.

3. The Wyld Dock Bar, Savannah

Overlooking Country Club Creek in Savannah, The Wyld Dock Bar has plenty of outdoor seating—both totally open-air and covered options—to enjoy a beautiful breeze and view while you eat, drink and converse. Locally caught faves include shrimp or fish tacos, which pair beautifully with small plates like scallop corn fritters, peach salad or chicharrones with truffle hot sauce.

 

4. Skull Creek Boathouse, Hilton Head Island, SC

An hour’s drive from The Ford, Hilton Head Island is a picturesque destination with an abundance of things to do—from strolling through museums to exploring wildlife refuges to relaxing on the beach. Of course, one of our favorite things to do is feast on local seafood with a stunning view of the water. Skull Creek Boathouse is a landmark, award-winning restaurant—famous for its lowcountry eats.

 

5. AJ’s Dockside Restaurant, Tybee Island

Comfort food with a view—what more could you ask for? AJ’s Dockside Restaurant serves up crab legs, jumbo shrimp and all types of fried seafood—sure to please any palate. Tybee Island offers quite a few impressive attractions for being such a quaint city. Make a day of it and explore the pier and pavilion or take a walk around Fort Screven or the still-functioning Tybee Island Light Station.

Looking for more adventure? Here’s a taste of life at and beyond The Ford.

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View Fall’s Rainbow at The Ford—Autumn’s Visual Palette Spans the Color Spectrum

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As for the less-lively (but no less fascinating) parts of nature—most of the leaves retain their bright, dominant green, but if you take a closer look, there are pops of rainbow colors all around. We encourage you to take the naturalist challenge with us in the next few weeks of prime time: when outdoors, see how many of these fall colors you can spot!

As for the less-lively (but no less fascinating) parts of nature—most of the leaves retain their bright, dominant green, but if you take a closer look, there are pops of rainbow colors all around. We encourage you to take the naturalist challenge with us in the next few weeks of prime time: when outdoors, see how many of these fall colors you can spot!

Red

Observe plants hosting colorful berries, ripe and ready for migrating birds and other animals to feast upon.  The Yaupon Holly is one of our most distinctive plants along the dike trail when the red berries begin to ripen. Yaupon is dioecious, which means that male and female flowers are born on separate plants; male yaupon hollies do not produce berries. The berries can be red, orange, or even yellow, and birds and other wildlife will feed on them through the winter months. Its scientific name, Ilex vomitoria, is given for these toxic berries, which Indigineous People would ingest to induce hallucinations and vomiting during religious ceremonies.

Orange

Look for chanterelle mushrooms! These edible orange mushrooms grow along the wetlands and embankments of our dike trail from time to time. Warning; never eat a mushroom if you are not certain of its identity—false chanterelle mushrooms, orange peel mushrooms, and jack-o’-lantern mushrooms are also common here. They have a similar color but can be toxic.

Yellow

Fun for this exercise but not great for the local ecosystem is the Chinaberry tree—commonly spotted at The Ford. Chinaberry is an invasive species with yellow berry-like structures. These make them easy to identify, along with their speckled bark.

Green

When you think of an acorn, do you automatically think brown? Ripe acorns are brown, but there are many bright green and yellow acorns falling from the many species of oak trees right now, particularly along the dike trails. Seeing this variety of acorn color means the oak trees are dropping the seeds prematurely and are under stress. This may be due to a very hot summer, heavy rains, poor pollination, or disease. Recent and frequent heavy rains in this region could be the reason there are so many of these beautiful acorns on the ground.

Blue

The great blue heron is often spotted along our dike trails, particularly the Lake Clara Dike Trail. White ibis, green herons, little blue herons, black night crowned herons, yellow night crowned herons, wood storks, snowy egrets, cattle egrets, and great egrets all call The Ford home during roosting season in the spring. Most of these still hang out in the area during the fall for its excellent fishing grounds. These birds can make up their own natural rainbow with the many colors they have! Even the rare roseate spoonbill, North America’s only native pink bird, was recently spotted at The Ford.

Purple

Did someone spill their bag of grapes on the trail? No, these grapes are Georgia’s native muscadines. The vines grow along the ground and on trees and shrubs. The higher the vines reach, the more sunlight they get and the more fruit they produce. In October, muscadines are at the end of their growing season, so you may see some trampled on the trail. It is best to pick them in the summertime, but many animals will eat these throughout the growing season.

Make time to walk outside today to find your own rainbow of colors, like the ones cited or others that catch your eye! There are many colors to feast your eyes upon right now! If you would like to take a guided nature walk with The Ford’s own Naturalist Brittany Dodge, please contact her at naturalist@fordfieldandriverclub.com.

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Top 5 Savannah Restaurants To Visit For A Night Out This Fall

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It’s no secret that Savannah is consistently rated one of the top cities in America for its vibrant culinary landscape, serving up everything from classic Southern comfort food to gourmet farm-to-table eats. And while our residents are known to frequent the city’s authentic staples, like Mrs. Wilkes Dining Room and Sisters of the New South, we’re no stranger to Savannah’s ever-evolving restaurant scene. Below, read up on the top five joints to visit for an exciting night out this fall—all just minutes from The Ford’s gates. 

The Olde Pink House

Imagine traditional lowcountry cuisine with an elegant twist, all dished out in an extravagant Colonial mansion painted, yes, pink. One of Savannah’s top-rated restaurants, The Olde Pink House is renowned for its memorable dining experience featuring fresh-caught seafood, prime aged beef and classic Southern fare like the popular jumbo lump crab cake with fried green tomatoes and a remoulade sauce. If you haven’t been yet, consider this the season to do it. 

Photo Courtesy of The Planters Inn

The Grey

Who wouldn’t want to eat dinner in a 1938 Art Deco Greyhound bus terminal that’s been masterfully restored to its original luster? Not only that, The Grey is serving up some of the best modern Southern eats with a deep, layered and soulful approach thanks to acclaimed Chef Mashama Bailey. The menu is structured around the seasonality of Savannah and differs each evening, but one thing is for sure — it’ll be a meal you won’t forget. 

Photo Courtesy of OpenTable

Husk

Set within the heart of Savannah’s Landmark Historic District, Husk is completely redefining Southern cuisine. Occupying a landmark mansion with charming porch seating, the popular restaurant features an ingredient-driven menu that accentuates the bounty of the surrounding area, resulting in a truly novel lowcountry dining experience. From the shrimp and grits to pimento cheese profiteroles, you can’t go wrong with anything on their ever-changing menu.

Photo Courtesy of Husk

The Emporium

A modern Savannah hotspot, The Emporium features a stylish, eclectic ambiance that perfectly complements its locally sourced, seasonal menu. Located on Perry Street, the energetic destination features a highly curated wine market and kitchen where you’ll find everything from fresh-caught fish to wood-grilled filet to wild mushroom toast. Simply put, it’s a not-to-be-missed fall dining experience.

Photo Courtesy of Perry Lane Hotel

The Collins Quarter

By day, The Collins Quarter is a bustling, vibrant café. By evening, it transforms into a candle-lit restaurant that’s perfect for your next date night. Featuring a delectable menu that reflects both authentic Southern flavors and the rich culinary diversity of Australia, The Collins Quarter offers a unique twist on Savannah cooking with just-picked produce, interesting meats and, of course, fresh seafood. Just be sure to order the pan-roasted scallops with corn and chorizo as a starter.

Photo Courtesy of The Collins Quarter

Click here to explore all that awaits in your backyard here at The Ford. 

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Top Fall Events Near The Ford

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Temperatures are starting to cool down, leaves are changing colors, savory and spicy scents are filling the air—fall is finally here. While it may not be time to bust out your sweaters, boots and scarves just yet, it’s definitely time to embrace the spirit of the season. See what’s happening near The Ford this autumn and get a glimpse of how our members will be spending the next few months.

The Savannah Jazz Festival

September 23–26, 2021 | Coastal Jazz Association, Inc. | Savannah, GA

The annual Savannah Jazz Festival is free to attend with tent tickets available for purchase for various concerts. Featuring internationally renowned performers and regional favorites, the event is a huge hit among locals and visitors alike. In addition to enjoying food, drinks and live music, we recommend a visit to the newly opened Savannah Jazz History and Hall of Fame Exhibit at the Savannah History Museum. The festival will also be streamed live for jazz lovers around the world to enjoy.

Image Credit: Savannah Jazz Festival

Phil the Park

October 9, 2021 | 5 p.m. | Forsyth Park | Savannah, GA

A local tradition, Phil the Park is an outdoor concert put on by the Savannah Philharmonic as they begin their 2021–2022 season. This year’s theme is “Soundtrack of Savannah,” which is centered on connection, celebration and local culture. Free to the public, Phil the Park is a family-friendly event. Bring lawn chairs, blankets and a picnic and enjoy feel-good jams, movie soundtrack faves and more.

Image Credit: The Savannah Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus

Rock Music, Axe Throwing & Bonaventure

October 9, 2021 | Southbound Brewing Co. | Savannah, GA

Presented by Rocky Road Touring and Shannon Scott, the kickoff for the Halloween season is sure to be a hit. Event-goers will get to enjoy local beer at a favorite brewery and try their hand at axe throwing via Blade & Bull. Ticket holders also get entry into a special concert at Bonaventure Cemetery the following day. Note: This event is 21+ only.

Image Credit: @bladeandbullsavannah on Instagram

Great Ogeechee Seafood Festival

October 15–17, 2021 | J.F. Gregory Park | Richmond Hill, GA

The 22nd annual Great Ogeechee Seafood Festival is a must-see for seafood lovers and, truly, anyone looking for a deliciously unique lowcountry event. The festival—which is one of the largest seafood festivals in the South—features live music, amusement rides, arts and crafts, and all of the seafood you could ask for. 

Image Credit: @goseafoodfestival on Instagram

SCAD Savannah Film Festival

October 23–30, 2021 | Savannah College of Art and Design | Savannah, GA

Hosted by the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD), this annual film festival celebrates independent and major studio films from around the world. Events throughout the week will include film screenings, announcements of film competition award winners, special exhibitions, panels and workshops, conversations with honorees and more.

Image Credit: SCAD Film Festival

Looking for more to do? Find out what our members will be up to this season by exploring the many activities & events happening at The Ford.

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Savannah Ranked No. 3 in Travel & Leisure’s World’s Best Cities Awards Survey

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It’s official—The Ford Field & River Club’s neighboring city of Savannah is truly more beloved than ever. In a survey for Travel & Leisure’s World’s Best Awards, the “Hostess City of the South” ranked #3—making it the highest ranking Southern city on this year’s list. Readers rated U.S. cities on their sights and landmarks, culture, cuisine, friendliness, shopping and overall value.

“Southern cities continue to steal the hearts of T+L readers,” notes the article. “Thanks to the wonderful mix of warm hospitality, approachable size, excellent food and striking architecture.” 

“Savannah is the jewel of the South,” one  reader remarked of the highest-ranking Southern city. “Bustling and up-and-coming, full of history and culture,” another said, citing unique attractions like the American Prohibition Museum.

Luckily for members of The Ford, Savannah and all its enchanting attractions are just 20 miles from the community—a short drive away. When The Ford is home, enjoying this top-ranked city—either for a weekday dinner or weekend excursion— is as easy as can be. 

Read the full article here

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Our 4 Favorite Fall Activities in Savannah

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Out with the summer crowds, in with clear skies, warm sunshine and a palpable sense of calm. Simply ask any of our residents at The Ford and you’ll quickly realize there’s no better time of year to explore Savannah than the fall. As the heat and humidity of summer days fade, the city begins gearing up for a host of events to usher in the new season. That’s why we compiled a list of four activities to partake in this fall so you can experience the best of Savannah’s stellar weather, rich history and breathtaking lowcountry.

Spooky Ghost Tour 

Nothing says fall like a haunted, Halloween-inspired ghost tour. If you’re not afraid of a bit of paranormal activity, you should definitely explore Savannah’s spooky side with the experts at Ghost City Tours and Genteel and Bard, or you can even set foot on a walking ghost and cemetery tour with Sixth Sense World. Be prepared to see the city in a whole new, supernatural light. 

Photo Courtesy of Visit Savannah

Historic Carriage Ride

Want to learn the history of Savannah without the fright? Then a carriage tour is perfect for you. Our friends at Savannah Carriage offer both public and private tours on their horse-drawn carriages, bringing you through eight of the city’s beautiful squares in about 50 minutes. Simply sit back, relax and enjoy the historic sights of Savannah.

Photo Courtesy of Lucky Savannah

Riverboat Cruise

More of a water person? Look no further than a riverboat cruise. Through Savannah Riverboat, you can hop aboard the Savannah River Queen or Georgia Queen for an evening of dinner, entertainment and an unforgettable perspective of the city. As soon as the weather starts to cool in Savannah, you’re guaranteed an experience unlike any other.

Photo Courtesy of Visit Savannah

Museum Hopping

Savannah certainly doesn’t fall short on both indoor and outdoor museums, offering up a truly eye-opening experience in what’s considered one of America’s greatest cities for art. When the crowds clear in the fall, it’s the perfect opportunity to visit spots like the 1820s Davenport House, the contemporary Jepson Center for the Arts and the Georgia State Railroad Museum — among so many more. Better yet, plan a museum crawl for a fun fall day activity.

Photo Courtesy of Telfair Museums

While its magical riverfront setting might feel like a world of its own, The Ford is just a hop, skip and jump from Georgia’s most beloved destinations. Explore our neighborhood here

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Watch Bonneau Ansley Share an Up-Close Look at The Ford

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Here at The Ford Field & River Club, team members often forge a lasting connection to our distinctly beautiful, 1,800-acre property on the Ogeechee River and its unique combination of outdoor adventures and relaxed lowcountry living. Among The Ford’s most cherished relationships is with Bonneau Ansley, who began his real estate career representing properties at The Ford back in 1999, right after graduating from University of Georgia. 

After his initial work with The Ford all those years ago, Bonneau went on to become founder and CEO of Ansley Atlanta Real Estate and founder of Ansley Developer Services. 

Today, Bonneau is one of the top selling real estate brokers in Georgia. And, under Bonneau’s guidance, Ansley Atlanta has been named one of the fastest-growing middle-market companies in Georgia.

We are honored to have Bonneau back working with The Ford alongside Dimitri and Nick Cassini, members of The Ford and Managing Partners of the Development Group. In the video above, Bonneau gives an up-close look inside 120 Riceland Way within The Ford’s newly expanded Silk Hope enclave (the home sold not long after its video debut for $1.15M). The neighboring home at 96 Riceland Way is complete and available for sale—click here to learn more. Bonneau also takes viewers to a few of his favorite amenity spaces at The Ford: the private Deepwater Marina and Pete Dye Golf Course

Now is the perfect time to experience The Ford Field & River Club and tour available properties. 

Contact Danielle Hopper at Dhopper@FordFieldandRiverClub.Com or 912.756.5614 to arrange a Discovery Visit.

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The Ford Hosts Georgia Open on Our Pete Dye Championship Golf Course

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For the fifth time in six years, The Ford Field & River Club was honored to host the Georgia Open golf tournament on its 250-acre Pete Dye Championship Golf Course. Featuring a parkland-style front nine and a links-style back nine, The Ford’s award-winning course was described by the late Pete Dye himself as one of his “finest Southern designs.”

This year’s field consisted of 144 players from across the state ranging from club professionals, mini tour players and elite amateurs. Despite some heavy rain—a full four inches over the course of the tournament—the event concluded on August 5 with Matt Nagy winning the title of 2021 Georgia Open Champion with a 72 hole total of 15-under par.

“Members enjoy seeing the best players in the state come to test their skills at our golf course,” says The Ford General Manager Marc D. Ray. “Not only do members come out to watch, they also volunteer for live scoring on the weekend. This event is an opportunity to show players from all over Georgia how truly special our golf course at The Ford is. Despite all the rain during the week, players were in awe of how firm and fast our greens remained, which provided a great championship.”

Throughout the tournament, many pro players were overheard expressing their delight in The Ford’s course, which is shaped by coastline, meadows and freshwater lakes—Matt Nagy was even overheard remarking that The Ford was home to “the best greens I’ve ever putted on.”

“I think the players most enjoyed the lowcountry setting our course sits on as well as our distinct and unique front and back nine,” says The Ford’s resident PGA pro, Ryan Skipton. “The course’s conditioning and our firm and fast greens as well as the ability to stretch over 7,400 yards makes us the perfect venue to host this championship. The feedback I got from the players was they were fascinated with how well our golf course took on the rain all week. We were able to provide championship conditions and it was a very successful event.”

Arrange a Discovery Visit to experience The Ford’s Pete Dye Championship Golf Course as well as our numerous other amenities and tour available properties.  Contact Danielle Hopper at Dhopper@FordFieldandRiverClub.Com or 912.756.5614 today.

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The Ford Debuts All-New Equestrian Video

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Experiencing The Ford on horseback is one of the most rewarding ways to explore our lowcountry oasis—the romantic setting is truly like riding through a movie set. We are excited to unveil an all-new video that captures the essence of our equestrian offerings—from trail rides to dressage, beginner’s lessons and more. In this new video, we hear from Equestrian Director Kate Jones about why horses are such fascinating creatures and what makes riding at The Ford such a special experience. Plus, we’ll explore the state-of-the-art Equestrian Center—complete with 22 stalls, a members lounge, and 22 acres of turnout paddock.

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Top 5 Summer Activities at The Ford

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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.

Crabbing

“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.

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4 Fish to Angle for this Summer

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“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.”

 

Tarpon

“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.”

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

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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.

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Why Horseback Riding is the Best Way to See The Ford

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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 dhopper@fordfieldandriverclub.com

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Neighborhood Spotlight: Savannah

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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.

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4 Refreshing Springtime Cocktails

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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.

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

Directions
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.  

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

Directions
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.

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

Directions
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.

Mojito

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.

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

Directions
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.

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

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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.

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A Day in the Life of a Kid at The Ford

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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. 

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Nearby Attractions: Okefenokee Wildlife Refuge

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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 internationalsportsman.com

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.

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5 Birds to Watch for at The Ford this Spring

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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. 

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

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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.

Read the full article here

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Uncommon Living Redefined

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What is Uncommon Living?

Life at The Ford Field & River Club is far from ordinary. It is not only the world-class staff, exceptional beauty of the Georgia Lowcountry, top-rated golf course, immaculate real estate, and unrivaled quality of amenities that make our community so special – but the familiar faces and places of The Ford Field & River Club that make life here so unique.

Our majestic waterfront location once captivated automobile magnate Henry Ford’s imagination, so much so that he built a historic winter retreat on this lush property in the 1930s. Today, the property is one of the nation’s leading luxury communities and private sporting clubs, featuring 400 home sites nestled on 1,800 breathtaking acres. In fact, Town & Country magazine has named The Ford Field & River Club one of the top seven safe havens in the country, recognizing enclaves that offer an outstanding quality of life and exceptional amenities.

Uncommon Amenities

Speaking of amenities, this private sporting community features a challenging Pete Dye golf course, on-site day spa, deepwater marina, world-class equestrian center, state-of-the-art fitness center, shooting preserve, swimming pools, and more than 10 miles of scenic horse, biking, and hiking trails.

The property’s one-of-a-kind homes range from cozy two-bedroom cottages to five-bedroom estate homes, many of which were designed by renowned architects. Each lot and home is unique and convenient to club amenities – many within walking or biking distance for a relaxing lifestyle in the temperate Southern climate.

Uncommon Lowcountry Lifestyle

The Ford Field & River Club’s intimate setting in Georgia’s lush Lowcountry provides the kind of coastal living most people only dream of. This breathtaking community is a sportsman’s paradise and outdoor enthusiast’s dream, where memories are made on land, at sea, and right in your backyard. As much a premier sporting club as it is a private residential community, The Ford Field & River Club is located on the Ogeechee River banks, with the Atlantic Ocean a mere 20 miles away.

A private marina affords members convenient access to inshore and offshore fishing opportunities. Guided fishing trips can be easily arranged through the staff guides at Ogeechee Outfitters, the on-property source for fishing boating supplies, as well as a number of popular outdoor apparel brands.

Our diverse calendar of events immerses members in the laid-back Southern lifestyle for the social butterfly that makes our community so unique – creating a sense of community where neighbors are friends and friends are family.

Uncommon Accolades

At The Ford Field & River Club, we’re no stranger to accolades. The Platinum Clubs of America award ranks The Ford Field & River Club among the top five percent of all clubs in the United States and the top 150 clubs. The Distinguished Club Elite award, another feather in The Ford Field & River Club’s cap, is the only merit-based award program that recognizes private clubs and their management for outstanding delivery of exceptional member experience. Both awards recognize the world-class experience members enjoy every day.

Creating the Platinum Clubs of America experience goes far beyond excellence in amenities and the property’s beauty. Achieving this milestone is the result of an intensive planning process and the execution of a long-range strategy by The Ford Field & River Club management staff and board of directors to recruit world-class talent, invest in infrastructure, increase conservation efforts, adapt to changing times, and take the steps necessary to ensure the legacy of the property for future members.

As defined by Distinguished Clubs, “member experience” is that special combination of qualities that a private club provides its members. It is not just the quality of service, the facilities, or the product provided; it is also the staff’s quality and the management and the overall club governance they deliver.

“These awards reinforce what we already know: Ford enriches the lives of members and their families by fostering enduring friendships and providing a competitively superior variety of first-class amenities,” said Club Board President Jeff Fusile. “These awards are a wonderful validation and much-deserved recognition of everyone’s efforts.”

Uncommon Golf

Included in The Ford Field & River Club‘s member experience is Pete Dye’s signature golf course, which he proclaimed to be his “finest Southern links.” In 2014, The Ford Field & River Club Golf Course underwent a $7.5 million renovation with Pete Dye’s direct involvement and had since received numerous accolades and continuous high praise from renowned golf publications, including Golf Digest “Best Golf Courses in Georgia,” Golfweek’s “Top 100 Best Residential Courses,” and Host for the Georgia PGA Open.

This year, Ford was named one of GOLF Magazine’s top courses in Georgia in its 2020 – 2021 rankings. Of 416 courses in Georgia, The Ford Field & River Club was ranked the 15th best course in the state, alongside such prestigious company as the world-famous Augusta National. In 2016, The Ford Field & River Club received certification in Environmental Planning from the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program for Golf Courses (ACSP).

Our version of laid-back luxury living celebrates all the great outdoors has to offer, traditions steeped in Southern charm, and a sense of community you won’t find anywhere else. This is Uncommon Living at The Ford Field & River Club.

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Plant Riverside District

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Nestled on the waterfront of Savannah’s historic River Street, Plant Riverside District is a sprawling fusion of luxury and lights. From walls composed of sparkling geodes to hotel rooms laced in European elegance, it is safe to say there is something for everyone here—almost too much for a single day trip.

The music strumming from bars, the slew of visitors, the glass storefronts that look like terrariums filled with delightful wares—it’s overwhelming at first, especially if you had grown accustomed to what was once the sleepier end of River Street.

“What is this place?” a man asks in wonder as he stands beneath the colossal, 137-foot, chrome-dipped dinosaur skeleton that hangs from the ceiling of the JW Marriott lobby.

Plant Riverside is many things, but conventional is not one of them. It houses a collection of shops and galleries, an intimate outdoor performance venue, and more than a dozen restaurants, including three rooftop bars with stunning views of Savannah and South Carolina. Then there’s the hotel itself, so imperceptibly woven into the fabric of the district’s sights, that it takes you by surprise when you suddenly discover you’re standing in the lobby.

Like the hotel lobby, it feels as if the district’s many amenities are without borders—you find yourself entering, exploring and exiting spaces without even realizing it. Around each turn are visual delights like suspended models of an ancient species of bird with expansive wings and the entryway to the base of one of two iconic smokestacks around which Plant Riverside District was built, revealing the sky hundreds of feet above.

The overall design is a study in opposites—where high-tech and old-world, sleek and textured, old and new seamlessly blend together. In this way, Plant Riverside is a successful renovation, bringing modern experiences to the Hostess City while remaining respectful of its rich history.

The history of Plant Riverside really begins with the two towering smokestacks that crown the former power plant, climbing high into the firmament. At the turn of the century, the site housed the Savannah Power Company Riverside Station, which helped to power the city’s infrastructure during the transition from gas to electric. With WWII raging in Europe, the Port of Savannah was converted into a predominantly military cargo port. When the war ended, the riverfront became dilapidated and undesirable and fell into decay for the next several decades.

The power plant, however, endured. Smoke poured heartily from the stacks until the plant closed in the late ’80s. It remained vacant for decades in spite of the fact that tourism along the opposite end of River Street had been flowing steadily for almost 50 years.

“The Savannah Power Company Riverside Station was the largest and most prominent industrial building near downtown, making it a desirable adaptive reuse project,” says Robin Williams, chair of architectural history at Savannah College of Art and Design. He explains that due to its location at the west end of the waterfront, it made perfect sense to place a hotel where the vast majority of visitors would come to explore Savannah’s distant past.

Richard Kessler, a Savannah native and renowned hotel developer, happened to be the man with the ingenuity and the means of acquiring such a rare piece of real estate. Hidden away within the rusty rafters of the high-vaulted skylights and the charmingly crooked alleyway underpasses, Kessler saw the glint of a gold mine. He and his team of designers, including architect Christian Sottile, an international, award-winning urban designer and dean of SCAD School of Building Arts, set out to imbue every brick with energy.

Each moment spent roaming among the boutiques and exotic restaurants brings a range of fresh, exciting and dazzling sensations back to River Street. This experience is only enhanced when you notice it’s framed by a building that has watched Savannah grow for more than a century.

“The goal of preservation is to preserve historic architectural fabric,” Williams explains. “Unlike other forms of cultural expression, architecture must answer to practical realities of being useful.” With renewed purpose—to attract tourists and locals alike with enchanting one-of-a-kind experiences—the once-forgotten Power Plant has remained true to its roots by bringing new energy to Savannah’s waterfront.

PlantRiverside.com

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Annie, Get Your Gun

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Most people know the story of Annie Oakley, the famous sharpshooter who traveled across the country with her husband and her rifle, showing how she could not only compete with but also outshoot most of the marksmen who dared to challenge her. Oakley was ahead of her time in the early 1900s, breaking into a male-dominated sport and paving the way for the growing number of markswomen to take aim at shooting.

Drawing on the historic figure’s efforts to advance women, the Annie Oakley Shooters formed to encourage and empower more women to participate in clay shooting sports. “The Annies,” as they like to refer to themselves, formed in the early 2000s in Atlanta when a group of women wanted to join in shooting events even though only a few had ever even handled a gun. That’s not to say they couldn’t learn, of course. For everyone, there is always a first—the first golf swing, horseback ride, swim stroke or pitch. These women wanted to take their first shot, and when they did, they fell in love with it. Then they wanted other women to join them—to form a community of markswomen.

When the group of shooting friends decided to host a women’s clay shooting competition, the first Annie Oakley Tournament was launched in 2004 and has since become an annual event. Today, the Annies are one of the fastest growing women’s shooting clubs in the country, with groups assembling in central and southeastern Florida, northern and southeastern Georgia, and Charleston, South Carolina.

The Lowcountry Annie Oakleys, the Savannah chapter, operates out of Forest City Gun Club, the oldest continually running gun club in the country. Each month, 30-40 markswomen gather at Forest City for an afternoon of clay sports shooting and good company. The ladies spend two hours honing their skills as sharpshooters by taking lessons or firing off a hundred rounds. After they pull, aim, fire and repeat, the women often convene at local haunts in the nearby Sandfly district to refuel with lunch before returning to their work, be it at home or in the office.

“I’ve been with the Annies for about five years now,” explains Peggy Gillenwater, a resident at The Ford Field & River Club and member of Forest City. “We are a really inclusive group that lets in women from all across the spectrum of shooting experience.” This includes novices, experts, and everything in between. “But we all come to have fun,” adds Gillenwater, which is how she has managed to convince another Ford resident to participate even though she’s never held a gun.

There are about eight Ford residents who belong to the Annies, and when they’re not at Forest City, the women can practice in their own backyard, relatively speaking. “We have two certified shooting instructors at Ford, Mike and Danny,” says Gillenwater. “They teach at the nearby Dorchester Shooting Preserve, which is actually perfect for us because as residents of Ford we are also members at Dorchester.” The 5,000-acre hunting preserve offers a world-class sporting clays course with 15 fully automatic stations for shooters of all levels.

The group’s current membership is primarily women 50 and older, which the women particularly enjoy. “The older generation is mature and there’s less drama,” says Carrie Bazemore, a Savannah resident and member of the Lowcountry Annies for the past three years. “This is important because it takes a lot of focus to learn the sport and gain good technique.” Though Bazemore also adds that the group is very welcoming of youngblood. “We certainly don’t want to prevent the younger generation from joining in,” she says.

Alongside the fun of shotguns and sporting clays, the Annies use their good aim to fund good causes. “Shooting is such a great outlet for me,” expresses Bazemore, “but I also participate to help out with the charities.” Since the club’s inception, it has brought enormous sums of money to local charities, reaching their goal of raising one million dollars in the span of just five years.

“I’ve been to a lot of gun club charity events in the area and I have to say the Annies do an amazing job,” notes Gillenwater. Some recipients of these funds include Dwaine and Cynthia Willett Children’s Hospital, Second Harvest of Coastal Georgia, and Jasper County Boys and Girls Club. The Annies have also generously awarded $108,000 to CURE Childhood Cancer, another $108,000 to the Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Coastal Empire and $54,000 to the United Way of the Coastal Empire.

“We want to see around 40 teams sign up for these charity events,” Gillenwater explains. She says that teams of four people usually pay an entry fee around $1,000 to $1,250, which goes toward the chosen charity and helps cover the cost of hosting the event. “Of course, the alcohol helps enliven things,” Gillenwater says, laughing. “Auctions always work better when there’s a little bit of wine going around.”

Bazemore shares a quote from Annie Oakley herself, saying, “God intended women to be outside as well as men, and they do not know what they are missing when they stay cooped up in the house.” But getting women outside is only part of the equation. “I feel like the group empowers me,” Bazemore exclaims. “Shooting a gun empowers me.” Add this all together and it’s clear that building a supportive group of women who care as much about growing their sport as they do about lifting up their community is what the Lowcountry Annies is all about.

AnnieOakleyShooters.com

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Tale of Two Spaces

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Savannah is known for seamlessly honoring the past while updating for the future, making it the most well-preserved city in America. Every building has a story to tell. Some of these stories are told by the people who remember, and some are told by the buildings themselves.

The Vault Kitchen + Market opened in 2017 and quickly became the Hostess City’s dining locale de jour that had everyone talking. Three years and a pandemic later, they’re still talking about this chic Asian-fusion restaurant tucked into Savannah’s emerging Starland District, which is why you’ll still find more locals gathering there than tourists. Owners Sean and Ele Tran took the former Bank of America location that served the community for more than 50 years and transformed it into a sleek restaurant with a funky industrial vibe.

From the artful lockbox sculpture of a bull decorating one wall (a nod to Wall Street, one would imagine), to an intimate dining space inside an actual bank vault, The Vault’s atmosphere is a treasury created by clever deposits of whimsy. Stacks of safety deposit boxes adorn the bar and even the restrooms are paved with nickels. Despite its conservative and clerkish origins, the modernized space is open and airy with high, beam-exposed ceilings and an open-view kitchen—that is, if you get there before the crowds.

While the interior space is intimate, the outdoor dining option is an excellent option. The covered space is expansive to accommodate large groups and social distancing.

Locals are a discerning lot when it comes to dining, but they’ve long been won over by the success of The Vault’s owners who have a collective of 11 stellar restaurants throughout Savannah. With each new opening, Savannahians may fear that the culinary couple may be spreading themselves too thin, but we quickly eat our words—with a heap of steaming pork and duck dumplings, and thick slices of fresh sushi aptly named The Bank Roll.

The dishes at all of Sean and Ele’s restaurants are fresh, thoughtful and delicious. At The Vault, you can bet on the Spicy Tuna Tartare from the appetizer menu and the flavorful Miso Salmon as a main dish, and with menu prices running between $4.95 and $16.95, you won’t break the bank.

TheVaultKitchen.com, 912.201.1950

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Good Bones

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Often referred to as “the boneyard,” Driftwood Beach is a relatively small stretch of Jekyll Island’s 10 miles of unspoiled shoreline, but it’s easily the most picturesque. Located on the island’s north end, it’s so protected by trees that it’s not visible from the roadway. But park and venture down winding trails and in just a few yards you’ll emerge onto a beach scattered with ancient driftwood monuments bleached by the sun and preserved by the salty air.

Looking out across the length of the beach, it’s as if the ocean had washed the bones of prehistoric animals onto the shore, where they bleached over time. The limbs are gnarled and knotted, reaching out in various directions before being fixed in time and space. It’s both eerie and beautiful—a tension reminiscent of the Southern Gothic tradition; like Flannery O’Connor herself had crafted this scene.

I have lived in Savannah for two decades, and yet I only just recently discovered Driftwood Beach when a friend took me there on a day trip this past summer. I had been to Jekyll Island a number of times over the years for tennis tournaments, conventions and retreats—once I even rode my bicycle around the island’s perimeter as the first 10 miles of a century ride, but I had completely missed this gem of a site.

What made the view even more breathtaking was the giant belly of the capsized cargo ship “Golden Ray” in the distance. Lying on its side, all that was visible was its red ballast, dwarfing the St. Simons’ coastline beyond it. While the ship will eventually be dismantled and removed, its menacing presence adds another layer of enchantment to the experience, the industrial metal form lying in stark contrast to the organic shapes around it.

We visited midweek as to avoid the onslaught of tourists that seem to know more than I, filling the beach at steady rates. But it was also six months into the pandemic, so we were able to spread out, snap photos as we negotiated around the driftwood, and cool off in the surf, running our toes along the ocean floor to find sand dollars and spiral shells as big as our hands.

Driftwood Beach alone is worth the drive, but the barrier island has even more to offer—most notably a fascinating history dating back 3,500 years. While the earliest inhabitants of the southernmost island of the Golden Isles were Native Americans who traveled there to hunt and fish, the first settlers were British colonists, claiming the land for England. General James Oglethorpe founded the colony of Georgia in 1733, and along with it, Jekyll Island. It was then purchased in 1886 as a private winter retreat for some of the wealthiest families in America, including the Rockefellers, Vanderbilts and Pulitzers.

What’s referred to as the “Club Era” marked the opening of the prestigious Jekyll Island Club and the construction of spacious vacation homes and outbuildings to serve elite families. Now part of the National Historic Landmark District, visitors can tour these historic sites and stop in at the Mosaic Jekyll Island Museum.

The Great Depression and WWII brought the Club Era to a close and Jekyll Island was purchased by the state of Georgia in 1947 and opened to the public as a State Park a year later. To preserve its history and natural beauty, only 35 percent of the island has been developed, offering lodging, shopping, dining, the Georgia Sea Turtle Center, and a variety of ways to enjoy the outdoors with trails, bike paths, tennis courts, golf courses and even a water park. The remaining 65 percent has been left in its natural state. This includes five unique, family friendly beaches of which Driftwood is only one—though make it the first on your list.

Visiting Jekyll Island
All vehicles entering the island must purchase a parking pass at the main gate. Single- and multi-day passes are $8, an annual pass is $55. Walkers and bicyclists do not need to pay a fee to visit the island.

Jekyllisland.com

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Meet Executive Chef Frank Chiasera

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The Southeast has a magical way of pulling you back if you stray too far for too long. Maybe it’s the languishing live oaks, the winding waterways, or the way the sun’s rays dance off the swaying marsh grasses, giving them a golden hue. Or maybe it’s all of this plus more, nestled in a small, unique and oft-overlooked part of the country.

It is for Frank Chiasera.

Chiasera grew up in Niagara Falls, New York—a fact that his drawn-out vowels belie before he even has the chance to tell you. At 16, he recalls walking down to the corner Italian restaurant and getting his very first job as a dishwasher. He has been in kitchens ever since.

Chiasera remained in New York to study at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, and upon graduation, he worked in a couple of popular restaurants before entering the world of member clubs. “I really love the member experience,” he says. “I get to know the membership; I get to know what they like and dislike, but I also understand their dietary needs and preferences and my menus reflect that.”

He first ventured to Mississippi in his mid-20s, cutting his teeth as a line cook before being offered a sous chef position at the Harbour Club, Charleston’s premier private business and social club. As is characteristic of the industry, Chiasera later pinballed around the eastern seaboard, with stints at the Citrus Club in Orlando and Colleton River Plantation in Bluffton, South Carolina, where he committed to buying a home. Nonetheless, a position at the Peninsula Club in Charlotte lured him northward, but he kept the house on Hilton Head, knowing that he’d eventually return to the place that captured his heart.

“When I was first at Colleton, I don’t think I really appreciated the beauty until I moved to Charlotte and there’s no ocean,” Chiasera admits. Eventually, he and his wife, along with their three teenage daughters, returned to their home in South Carolina for the long term, and that’s when he joined the Ford family as Executive Chef. “Now, I have made it a point to not take for granted how beautiful my surroundings are,” he says. Since returning, he and his wife have committed to getting outdoors more, which includes adding a couple of kayaks to the mix. “I really want to take advantage of the gorgeous surroundings,” he says.

Chiasera is right at home at Ford, appreciating not only the surroundings, but also the flexibility, creativity and challenges that the position affords him. “The great thing about a member club is that our menus change weekly, so our challenge is to keep it fresh and different, yet consistent,” he says.

As an example, Chiasera notes how the kitchen currently has Grilled Octopus and Burrata Cheese & Sliced Tomato Salad as appetizers and that they’ll also throw in a classic like Chicken Piccata. “We’re all over the board,” he says. “Everything from Mexican to curries—you name it. We try to push the envelope.”

One of the things he loves best about Ford is that he has the freedom to experiment with the menu. “I base my menus around what the membership likes,” he says. “So, if I run a new item and it doesn’t sell, it comes off the next week. If they love it, we’ll run it an extra week and put it in the rotation for down the road.” As such, the membership really helps shape the menu.

So do the seasons. A garden on property supplies a good deal of herbs, seasonal fruits and vegetables which Chiasera then incorporates in the menu. Throughout the year, the garden yields beets, radishes, asparagus, figs, grapes, squash, heirloom tomatoes, strawberries and blueberries. There’s even a small pecan orchard on property. “We’ve just started some hydroponic growing trees, so we’ll see how those come out,” he says. “The garden has been a lot of fun and the membership loves it when we put those items on the menus.”

The property also boasts a number of citrus trees. “We have kumquat, lime, grapefruit, tangelo, tangerine and orange trees,” Chiasera says. But the garden and orchards are new territory for the chef. “I’m still learning. In the future we’re going to focus on fewer items but more yield so we can run the items longer,” he says.

In spite of his New York upbringing and working in a fast and furious industry, Chiasera remains personable and unhurried. In fact, dare I say, laidback? Maybe the South has made him its own. This influence is certainly evident in his penchant for comfort food when it comes to cooking for his family. “I love doing one-pot meals, especially in the wintertime,” he says. “Whether it’s a jambalaya or a chicken stew—I enjoy hearty meals.”

Chiasera, along with his wife and daughters, makes a point to go back to New York at least once a year to visit his family and hometown. He goes, but he doesn’t stay. Instead, he returns to the roots he’s happy to have set here in the Southeast.

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