Family Campfire at the Beach

Beach. Music. Campfire. S’mores….A recipe for a fantastic spring night at Sawgrass. The Family Beach Campfire was a great night of socializing for both kids and adults! Lacie Petry, Recreation Manager, put together this FREE event for families on March 15th.

Sawgrass Country Club Family Campfire Sawgrass Country Club Family Campfire

There’s something really peaceful about a campfire on the beach. The cool breeze, warm fire, and soft glow of the light creates a special ambiance on the beach, especially in the midst of a very busy TPC weekend. It created an opportunity for families to unwind and enjoy our beautiful club in a different way.

Sawgrass Country Club Family Campfire Sawgrass Country Club Family Campfire Sawgrass Country Club Family Campfire

Sawgrass Country Club Family Campfire Sawgrass Country Club Family Campfire

The live music was so perfect. Have you heard of Gabriel Storm? He’s a rising star in our little corner of the world and has built quite the following on both Facebook and Instagram. He played classics like “Let it Be” as well as less popular ballads (haha!) like “Baby Shark” for his little groupies. The little girls were so smitten! It was the cutest to see their faces all starry-eyed!

Gabriel Storm at Sawgrass Country Club Sawgrass Country Club Family Campfire Gabriel Storm at Sawgrass Country Club

My boys enjoyed the S’mores (great idea, Lacie!)! She does such a good job coordinating recreation activities like the campfire, themed Kids Night Out, and the various camps throughout the year. I really could go on and on about her. Every time I see her, there’s a smile on her face and a pep in her step! As summer approaches, look for more info about the weekly camps, and sign the kiddos up! The picture below shows Nate getting the fire ready!

Sawgrass Country Club Family Campfire

The family campfire was a great way to gear up for summer and it makes me day dream about all the memories to be made in our slice of paradise in the coming months.

Give Golf a Go with Laura Baugh

“Just do it.” It’s a phrase Nike has coined and trademarked to not only sell gear but to encourage generations to conquer fear and perform at their highest levels.

Brittany Darling & Laura Baugh

Today, it was my mantra to try a sport that I don’t have any confidence in….golf. My husband is a good golfer, and he would LOVE for me to learn to play. It’s time we can spend together, we can plan vacations around golf courses, and we can take the boys out as a family as they get older. What wife can complain about that?!?!

He bought me golf clubs three years ago, and I took a few lessons then. But it never really took because I was working at the time and didn’t have as much free time to learn. Now I do…and thank goodness for a fantastic female golf pro, Laura Baugh. She was friendly, kind, and VERY patient with me. We went through a few of the basics, then she let me start swinging!

Y’all…It was so fun, but I’m glad that the range was less crowded that day. I missed the ball completely, topped the ball, hit the ground with my club, etc. Of all the ways you can hit the ball wrong, I did them all!

But, there were a couple of beautiful shots that kind of went straight…haha! I just giggled and kept going. You have to start somewhere, right?

Brittany Darling & Laura Baugh

Beginner tips for success!

Over the course of our lesson, Laura gave me several beginner “tips for success” to keep in mind as I get going in the sport of golf:

  • Figure out your pre-shot routine, and stick to it. Whether you do normal things like look at the target, the ball, take a deep breath to release tension, lay your club behind the ball, and swing….or, if you sweet talk your club or the ball, blink 10 times,
  • Your weight shifts from right to left as you swing. The weight transition was an easy concept, but harder in practice. But thinking of the basics of shifting weight was a great start. We practiced shifting my hips from right to left to get the general motion down.

Brittany Darling & Laura Baugh

  • Stick your booty out! Laura said that stance is important. Stand athletically with knees bent and your booty out! This will set you up for a nice loose swing.
  • Practice punch shots, then go to full swings. Laura said this was great for getting the feel of the contact range in your swing. Punch shots help you make contact in the middle of the swing. You start the same as a regular swing, go only halfway through the backswing, then forward about halfway into the follow through. For a newbie like myself, this was a great exercise in condensing the swing.

Brittany Darling & Laura Baugh

  • Finish your swing by turning your body all the way until your belt faces your target. My shots kept veering right, and she said this is one reason why. If I turned my body all the way, my shots would go straighter! Personally, I think a glass of wine would make my shots go straighter!

Brittany Darling & Laura Baugh

  • When practicing at the range, draw a straight line in the grass from the ball toward your target, and from the ball back to guide your backswing. The line forward and back should be straight. The goal of the line is to guide your backswing and your follow through. It’s a visual cue for your eyes and hands to follow.
  • Have fun! Be sure to let loose and smile! And if you’re nervous, grab a friend and go to one of the clinics in the afternoons. Clinics are every Monday afternoon from 2:00-3:00 and from 3:30-4:30. Each week focuses on a different aspect of the game and the cost is $20 per person. Sign up on Foretees!

Brittany Darling & Laura Baugh

I had a ball, and I definitely plan on taking more lessons in the spring and summer. In Laura’s words, “All you need to do is get to a place where you have fun playing the game.” This could mean that you take lessons every week and become a very good golfer over time. Or, if you’re like me, you take a set of lessons to get decent enough to play with your husband every once in a while and simply enjoy the time spent together. Whatever your desire is, just do it!

Chili Cook-Off 2019!

Cheers to another successful Chili Cook-Off! This year marks the 13th year of this fun-filled event at Sawgrass. Members came out in their best western wear to support their favorite chili chef in the competition of the century! Not really, but the competition was fierce!

Sawgrass Chili Cook-off

There was more than just chili…..delicious appetizers, western-themed drinks, live music, a mechanical bull, a hot chili eating contest, and FRIENDS made this a fun evening!

Chili Cook-Off

The main event was the chili contest. I was so excited to try my hand at chili as a contestant. I’m absolutely NOT surprised that I didn’t win! It might have won a soup contest, but it wasn’t thick enough to be a chili. On to the better chilis…. There were so many different flavors of chili. Some were very “tomato-y,” others had a sweetness to them. One of my favorites was one with black beans. My 5-year-old, Wyatt, asked for more of that one, too!

The winning chili was made by Ron Heller, and Best in Show went to Tommy Turrentine and Sarah Cook. Both chilis were excellent!

Sawgrass Chili Cook-off

Sawgrass Chili Cook-off

Hot Chili Eating Contest

Just watching this set my mouth on fire. The chefs prepared 8 courses, and the contestants made it through 6 of them!

Sawgrass Chili Cook-off

There were a surprising amount of brave young members who signed up. Four contestants were knocked out by round one, Thai Chili Noodles. Other rounds included fiery items like Hell’s Graveyard Wings, Carolina Reaper Candied Bacon, Jalapeno Popper filled with a Ghost Pepper & Serrano Cream Cheese, and Espresso Ghost Pepper Chipotle Truffle. In round five, Madison Schemitz dropped out leaving two members, Mike O’Malley and Chelsea Karol, left to test their taste buds.

Sawgrass Chili Cook-off

Mike finally threw in the towel in round 6 and Chelsea won! If you see her around the club, be sure to offer her congrats!

Sawgrass Chili Cook-off

Food and Entertainment

The appetizers were so amazing! From the corn cakes and cowboy cocktail to the mini steak biscuits and chili dogs, the chefs at Sawgrass put so much effort into the menu and the eating experience. My favorite appetizer was the mini herbed biscuits with chicken fried steak. The biscuit was soft and flaky while the steak was tender and full of flavor. My boys liked the chili dogs the best, and they were just the right size. Sawgrass Chili Cook-off Sawgrass Chili Cook-off Sawgrass Chili Cook-off Sawgrass Chili Cook-off   

What they really liked was the mechanical bull! I bet they rode it 20 times! The guy running it was great, he was easy on the kiddos. It was a popular attraction for the kids, and I think they did better balancing than the adults I saw! 

Sawgrass Chili Cook-off Sawgrass Chili Cook-off

The entertainment and atmosphere were great. The decorations were top notch, and live musicians, Mountain Brew, played country classics for members to dance the night away. I ran into members that I play tennis with and members I see around the fitness center. And I even made a few new friends!

Sawgrass Chili Cook-offSawgrass Chili Cook-off Sawgrass Chili Cook-off Sawgrass Chili Cook-off

Cheers y’all! See you at next year’s chili cook-off!

Fit Fuel Meals and Fitness Hacks for 2019!

In our last post, we talked about the cardiovascular fit test with Randy. It is a cardio test designed to find your unique starting point as far as cardiovascular health. I really enjoyed the test, and it showed me what kind of shape I’m in!

Today’s post will focus on food. We’re giving you a few food hacks and tips to make choosing healthier options easier, including the Fit Fuel Meals that Sawgrass offers.

Food is fuel!

Food is fuel for your body, but it is certainly meant to be enjoyed! There are those around us with the culinary skills to create delicious combinations of flavors, both savory and sweet. Those people should call me to sample any new recipes they try….I love food! Haha! I grew up in the south, the land of fried food and desserts where we all needed a nap after a meal!

fruit

It’s totally ok to love food. It provides ways to connect with one another, take care of the ones we love, and it creates the perfect atmosphere to recap our days and make memories. One of our favorite past times is telling corny jokes at the dinner table. We have heard thousands of knock knock jokes around our table, some of them (created by the mind of a 5-year-old) making no sense at all! But it’s the bonding time that matters.

So, yes, food is meant to be a positive experience. But, I want to propose we also look at food as fuel. Calories are simply fuel your body needs to function. Did you know that your brain needs on average of 330 calories a day to function properly? And it needs fat to operate at an optimal level. If we take the emotions out of food and look at it as fuel, we can better decide what to put in our bodies.

Fit Fuel Meals

Our first hack or tip is Fit Fuel Meals. If you haven’t tried these meals, you are missing out! They are easy, delicious, and affordable. Our club WANTS to promote healthy eating, and offering meals that are fully-cooked and ready to heat up is a great solution. I ordered several last week including, turkey meatloaf with potatoes and green beans, Thai beef with pad thai noodles and veggies, and Chinese chicken with rice and veggies. All three were great, but my favorite was the turkey meatloaf! It was full of flavor and heated up nicely!

Our weeks are generally crazy with work schedules, after school activities, and evening commitments, so anything I can do to ensure we have a healthy balanced meal is a win in our house!

The new menu comes out every Tuesday, and orders are due on Friday at 5pm. Take a chance and order a few meals this week! I bet you’ll love them!

Fitness hacks

I love life hacks! There are tons of people who are way more clever than I am thinking up creative ways to use things we already have or creating new devices we just can’t live without. The hacks and tips below are meant to help you choose wisely while still enjoying the food you put in your body! Let me say that I am NOT a nutritionist, and these tips are things that I have learned over the years in order to take care of my body. Please consult a nutritionist or your doctor if you have questions. Let’s get started!

  • Pay attention to portions. We tend to eat bigger portions of meat and smaller portions of veggies. Let me encourage you to reverse this! Is the chicken breast you’re eating one serving or two? Why not you and your partner share one chicken breast then add heaping servings of carrots and cauliflower?
  • Eat meals on a smaller plate. I know it sounds silly, but you will get a smaller portion if you are eating on a smaller plate! We have been doing this for years, and it has really helped our portion control.
  • Go meatless for one or two nights per week. Nervous about not getting enough protein in your diet? No worries, eat veggies that have more protein those nights. For example, did you know that both spinach and asparagus each have protein? If you know you’re skipping meat at night, you can eat eggs for breakfast or lunch to balance protein intake as well.

smoothie

  • Get on the smoothie bandwagon. We have a Vitamix at home, but a blender or Magic Bullet will work great! Smoothies are easy, filling, and delicious! Add protein, veggies, and fruit in about any combination, and you’ve got a whole meal! Modern Honey has some great smoothie recipes. Here’s a quick link to the recipes, but this blogger struggles with autoimmune disorders, and if you struggle with that as well, you’ll really like the full post.
  • Love chicken salad, but not the extra calories in mayo? Try using plain greek yogurt instead of mayo! It will add a bit of tang to your dish but will still be creamy and delicious. Plus, you will get more protein.
  • Hummus can be so versatile! Try mixing it in with sauces to thicken without using heavy cream. Or, try topping your next salad with hummus instead of dressing. If you insist on dressing, try to make your own at home. It generally takes less than five ingredients and will be much better for your body than store-bought.
  • Make eggplant ‘bacon.’ I found this recipe that I’m dying to try! Just slice eggplant extra thin, brush the slices with olive oil, sprinkle them with coconut sugar, smoked paprika, chili powder, garlic powder, and sea salt, then bake at 275°F until crisp and browned (about an hour and 45 minutes). Recipe courtesy of Jackie Newgent. Find more recipes here!

Now you’ve got some quick tips and tricks to help you stay on top of your fitness goals for 2019!

New Year, New You – Cardiovascular Fit Test with Randy

It’s 2019! With the start of every new year comes new promises we make to ourselves. We want to be healthier. We want to be happier. We want to be more organized (or is that just me?).

Brittany Darling and Randy Woodrum at Sawgrass Country Club

Promises mean new goals, and goals mean different actionable lists that will accomplish said goals. After all, if you do the same things you did last year and the year before, why would anything change?

Goals don’t have to be as big as traveling the world or losing 100 pounds (although those are attainable). They can be smaller goals like losing 30 pounds in a year, or traveling to three new countries in 2019. There is excitement in planning and imagining what life will be like once you achieve your goal. What will you be able to do when you’re 30 pounds lighter: Wear that little black dress on date night? Play soccer with the grandkids, or coach their team? Go for long walks on the beach without fatiguing? Travel the world with your partner with the energy required?

It’s really about setting goals to achieve the lifestyle you want. For me, I want to be in better shape to chase down tennis balls and be able to stay in long rallies without getting tired, which means getting myself in better cardio shape and building muscle. Here’s where the Cardiovascular Fit Test comes in.

Brittany Darling and Randy Woodrum at Sawgrass Country Club

Randy Woodrum, the Director of Fitness, developed this test to help members condition their bodies to meet their goals, whether it’s simply to lose a bit of weight or to live longer by getting their heart in better shape.

The Cardiovascular Fit Test

To get into better cardiovascular shape, you have to know where you are at the beginning. The Cardiovascular Fit Test that Randy has created is designed to get your heart rate up using both speed and the incline (he went all the way up to 15!) on the treadmill. Next, you get recover time where he lowers the incline back to zero. Finally, he drives your heart rate back up with running. The time it takes your heart rate to go up, then back down, then up and back down is a good indication of how “fit” your heart is. He watched my heart rate the whole time and noted the number every couple of minutes.

Brittany Darling and Randy Woodrum at Sawgrass Country Club Brittany Darling and Randy Woodrum at Sawgrass Country Club

Brittany Darling and Randy Woodrum at Sawgrass Country Club

Don’t be scared if running isn’t your thing. If you have knee or joint issues, Randy can use a stationary bike or an elliptical for the test.

By the end, I was tired! 40 minutes of incline walking and running was tough! No pain, no gain, right?

Brittany Darling and Randy Woodrum at Sawgrass Country Club

The results

It can be scary to be evaluated. Randy did a good job of coaching me through and reiterating that everyone has a starting point. From the starting point, he creates a cardio program that fits ME, and we set expectations on following through. What resulted was a personalized 30-minute cardio workout routine specifically for my starting point.

Brittany Darling and Randy Woodrum at Sawgrass Country Club

The workout pictured below is a list of intervals designed to burn through my sugars (the food I ate that morning), then go into fat burn. There was a point in the test where I got my “second wind,” and this is the point where my body switched from burning my sugars to burning fat. It’s important to get to this point and stay there for a period of time if your goal is to reduce fat (isn’t everyone’s?!?!?).

workout routine

Randy also told me that the routine will change over time. After going through it 5-6 times, my body will adjust, and we will need to make it harder…YAY! Progress! There is room on the printout he gives to note things like average heart rate, peak heart rate, etc. This data is gold! If you can track it, you can improve it. You’ll be able to see over time how your endurance is changing. Therefore, how your heart health is improving.

The bottom line here is don’t be nervous to get your starting point. Rome wasn’t built in a day, but there was a plan to build it and milestones to get through. The same applies to your health. You will see results, but give yourself time and celebrate the small accomplishments along the way!

See Randy at the Fitness Center, and get your plan started!

Pub Crawling Through Christmas Lights

Christmas in St. Augustine is magical. The lights, the people, and the general atmosphere makes tourists and locals alike giddy!

Pub Crawl in St. Augustine

Me and Cory were excited to sign up for this year’s pub crawl in St Augustine for a few reasons – we haven’t spent time in St. Augustine without the kids, we were anxious to see the lights, and we knew several couples that signed up to go.

We had a great time – even in the rain! It just makes for an adventure, right?!?!

Pub Crawl in St. Augustine Brittany Darling

All 21 of us loaded on the bus with rain jackets, umbrellas, and smiles! Perry (Club Manager) and Meghan (Lead Bartender) were our fearless leaders starting us off with wine/beer and snacks for the drive down to St. Augustine. We sat across the aisle from Amanda and John Relihan…they are a hoot. I’ve played tennis with Amanda, and John is an attorney and does something at a bank. He told me, but it sounded complicated…haha!

John & Amanda Relihan

The loose schedule was the best part. We all met at 6:00 and rode down together. But, once we got to St. Augustine, we were free to go wherever. Some couples stuck together and others meandered where they wanted to go. We all were under strict orders to make it back to the bus by 9:45. Perry swears he’s never left anyone behind, but he said it with a mischievous grin, so who knows! 🙂

Bars we visited in St. Augustine

Here’s a recap of the bars we visited:

Prohibition Kitchen – If you like a modern industrial vibe, this is your bar. It felt like I was in an old warehouse with the mix of wood and metals and the openness of the space. They had a solo guitarist playing live music on a stage. A few couples from the group ordered pretzels and wings, and they came out looking amazing!

Meehan’s – We’ve been to Meehan’s before, so we knew this HAD to be a stop on this crawl. Did you know they make their own Irish Cream (it’s the empty glass behind the Guiness!). Try it if you go, it’s fantastic. The bar has an old feel with rich woods, stained glass, and close quarters. We loved it so much, we ended up ordering dinner there with Meghan! She is so interesting, but anyone who frequents the golf club probably knows that already! I loved getting to know her, and it just confirms that Sawgrass really does hire great people who genuinely care about the members and know how to have a good time!

Pub Crawl in St. Augustine Guiness at Meehan's

Scarlett O’Hara’s – We didn’t spend too much time here, but I’ll definitely go back next time. They also had live music, and there was a group from Sawgrass dancing.

Dos Gatos – This bar had a cool vibe as well! We were really impressed with the quality of the cocktails we ordered. The bartender really knew what he was doing, and we saw him joking and laughing with patrons making this a very friendly place as well!

Pub Crawl in St. Augustine

I would totally recommend a night out on one of Sawgrass’s pub crawls, specifically St. Augustine. It’s fun to feel like a tourist in a historic town that is SO CLOSE! Look for the next pub crawl on Foretees, and sign up – rain or shine!

Experience Winterfest at Sawgrass

“First we’ll make snow angels for two hours, then we’ll go ice skating, then we’ll eat a whole roll of Tollhouse Cookie-dough as fast as we can, and then we’ll snuggle.”
-Buddy the Elf

I’m sure you guys have seen the movie Elf. This quote from the movie seems to sum up the season pretty well for our family – Let’s do all the things, and then let’s snuggle. In the craziness of the holidays, don’t forget to take time out and just snuggle. Enjoy each other’s company and be together as a family.

Darling family Santa picture

Today’s post is focused on a fun tradition at Sawgrass called Winterfest. I’m so thankful for a club that promotes family time by organizing events like this. I’m not sure how many years they’ve been hosting this event, but I know I’ve been asked about a thousand times over the last month if we’re going! So, I went into it thinking it was going to be amazing, and it lived up to the hype! From the food to the activities to Santa, it was well-planned and enjoyed by all.

Food

I don’t need to tell you that Sawgrass creates spectacular dishes. They had prime rib, omelet, and pancake stations (eggs benedict was here, too) as well as chilled shrimp, cheeses and fruit, biscuits and gravy plus bacon and sausage, and their famous shrimp and grits! On top of that, they put together the best dessert station with cupcakes, pies, and cookies!

Perry and Chef Mike

My husband’s favorite dish was the eggs benedict (he went back for seconds), and he also commented on how good the sausage was! My boys just HAD to have chocolate chip pancakes. Of course I had to test them, and they were really good! My personal favorite was the shrimp and grits. The grits were cheesy, the shrimp was cooked perfectly, and the sauce was creamy and flavorful.

Omelet station

pancake station

Cupcakes

Activities

If your kiddos need to stay occupied like mine, Winterfest is the perfect place. They had a ball! Here’s what we did:

Magic show – The magician was so good at keeping the kids engaged! She was constantly recruiting volunteers from the audience to do different tasks. She even managed to recruit a reluctant teenager to be Santa for one of the tricks! This one turned out to be the favorite…she literally made a cute fluffy black rabbit come out of a box. It was adorable, and that poor rabbit had to endure every child petting it. Will asked me later that night if we could get a pet rabbit…I told him to ask his Mimi. (haha!) Even the dads got in on the action. My boys had fun competing with the other kids and dads to see who did the best job of wrapping dad up like a snowman.

snowman game

Snow, real snow – Yes, it happened to be 80 degrees on Sunday. Yes, the snow was melting about as fast as they could spray it out. But apparently that’s a Florida Christmas! They managed to get a decent amount of snow for throwing and sledding, so it worked out! All in all, I saw some pretty happy kids playing in the fake snow!

Colleen and Madeline

fake snow

Face painting – If you’ve been to any event in the past year, you have seen the amazing face painting masterpieces that Heather Aquilera creates. Will chose The Grinch, and Wyatt chose a tiger. I saw all kinds of characters from butterflies to unicorns! She truly does an amazing job!

Will Darling

Wyatt Darling

Mallory & Elise

Horse drawn carriage rides – What?!?!? How exciting! Nothing says Christmas like a horse drawn carriage. The ride took about 5 minutes, and the boys had a great time!

Horse and carriage

Santa

Let’s be real, Santa was the real star of Winterfest for the boys. The chocolate chip pancakes were a close second! They each took a few minutes to tell him what they wanted for Christmas. Will asked for more Pokemon cards, and Wyatt asked for PJ Mask toys. Can you see the excitement on their faces? I wish they were this happy when I put dinner on the table, or when I fold their laundry…am I right, moms?

Will & Wyatt Darling

Santa

Wouldn’t it be great if Christmas was that easy for us adults? What if Santa could bring things like better health or the healing of a broken relationship? I recognize that this season of joy also brings sadness for some. Know that I’m thinking of you and wishing you peace, comfort, and hope for the season and the new year. Whatever your personal circumstance, I encourage you to be a light to those around you this Christmas – your friends, Sawgrass members around you, the random person at Publix. You never know when a kind word or action can bring hope and meaning.

After all, “The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear.”
-Buddy the Elf

Rums of the Caribbean – Themed Dinner

A night out with great food, drinks, friends, and live music… Yes, please! Sawgrass picks the best theme dinners for members to enjoy! Tonight’s theme was Rums of the Caribbean, and there was no shortage of rum! The chefs and organizers put thought into the menu, the drinks, the music, and the atmosphere to bring the Caribbean to Sawgrass. The Caribbean-inspired decorations and flowers added to the mood of the dinner. It was so fun! We just couldn’t help walking through the dinner ooo-ing and ahh-ing at the variety of food presented. 

Events are better when you make new friends…always! I spotted new members, Alexis and Chris Milo by the jerk chicken table. Our oldest sons are in second grade at Ocean Palms and have the same teacher, so I recognized her from school events. We ended up sticking together the rest of night getting to know each other while we sampled the food and drinks. She later said of the event, “My husband and I thoroughly enjoyed our first event we’ve attended as new members. We were especially impressed with the bartenders and their knowledge of all things rum!”

Let’s talk about the food. I tested everything, and I had a few standout favorites!

Food

Starters – To start, we enjoyed a Caribbean-inspired salad and crunchy conch fritters. The sauce with the conch fritters was so good!

Main course – The main course options were to die for. One table featured flavorful coconut crusted mahi and mojito roasted pork accompanied by a Mojo dipping sauce, and the other table was home to Jamaican jerk chicken, rum-glazed sweet plantains, and coconut curry black eyed peas & rice.

Roasted pork and mahi

The tender jerk chicken was my favorite! I went back for more… The mojito pork was a close second! The mojo dipping sauce was wonderful paired with it.

Jerk chicken

Desserts – Oh my. If I could choose one thing to eat for a whole week, it might be the coconut ice cream made by Chef Mike and his team. It was thick and creamy with bits of real coconut to add a pleasant texture. The coconut flavor wasn’t overpowering, it was just right. There was also a huge pineapple upside down cake at the dessert station as well. The cake was moist, the pineapple was sweet and a little tart. It was heavenly paired with the ice cream. I might have to eat dessert first at the next dinner!

Drinks

But more importantly, the drinks were amazing! There were four drink stations, and we may have hit up our favorite stations more than once…shhhh… The bartenders mixed each drink by hand with fresh ingredients and flare!

Bermuda Yacht Club

Bermuda Yacht Club

The first drink we tried was the Bermuda Yacht Club made by Randy Smith. It was delicious! The Golden Falernum was the star of the drink with its exotic flavor profile composed of spicy ginger, citrus fruits, almonds, and allspice.

Ingredient list:
-Banks 7 Rum
-Lime juice
-Orange liqueur
-Golden Falernum

Rustic Rum

Rustic Rum

Next, we went to Bo’s table. He was mixing up a drink called the Rustic Rum. Bo says, “This drink was the product of a trip to Puerto Rico. I got to hang out with a group of top ten bartenders at an event, and they were talking about Rustic Rums. When this dinner came up, I just had to make it for our members!” What made this drink memorable was the flare at the end. Before handing me the drink, Bo torched a sprig of rosemary briefly, blew it out, then stuck it in the drink. It gave the drink a fabulous aroma and added to the enjoyment of the drink!

Ingredient list:
-Bacardi Ocho
-Cardinal Mendosa Brandy
-Strawberry rosemary simple syrup
-Topped with a ginger foam
-A squeeze of fresh lime
-Torch a sprig of rosemary for aromatics

Key Lime Kiwi Mojito

Key Lime Kiwi Mojito

Onto the third drink, the Key Lime Kiwi Mojito. It was uniquely created and named by Jay Dial. “We love Jay! You’ll see him bartending at both the beach club and golf club, and he has a knack for coming up with great drinks,” Bo says.

Ingredient list:
-Kiwi simple syrup
-fresh key lime juice
-Bacardi
-rum topper with agave, mint, and sugar

Canchánchara

Canchánchara

This is not your ordinary Canchánchara! Bartender, Corey Phelan, made this drink a bit different than the traditional method. It was fantastic….a little sweet, a little tart, and a lot of rum! (I might have had two of these!)

Ingredients:
-Havana club
-lemon juice
-agave nectar
-lemon to garnish

Music

The music deserves it’s own shoutout. King Eddie & Pili, Pili rocked it out. Word has it that the leader, King Eddie, toured extensively as a young man and still plays all over north Florida. We were very lucky to have him and his band at Sawgrass. They played classic Caribbean jams like “Could You Be Loved” by Bob Marley all night. And with the dance floor set up, members were dancing the night away! And I must say…I was very impressed with the moves! It made me want to sign me and Cory up for dancing lessons (we need it!).

Caribbean Rum Dinner

It was such a fun evening! Me and Cory got to experience flavors and sounds straight from the Caribbean, and we were stuffed by the end of the night! Check Foretees for the next themed dinner, and maybe we’ll see you there!

Enjoy a Group Tennis Lesson at Sawgrass!

Tennis is my jam. Since moving here and joining Sawgrass, I have become addicted to the sport! It’s challenging both physically and mentally. It requires a “getting better” attitude because there’s always an element of your game that needs improvement, especially for me as a new player! As a mom of young children, it feels good to go out on the court and release the stress of the day.

tennis lesson

Recently, my mother-in-law, Shelley, came to visit us. She has seen my love for the game grow and has played on and off for years. She’s familiar with singles but doubles makes her nervous. I don’t blame her….it’s tough to learn! You want to be in the right position at the right time, and there’s a drive to make the shot and win the point for your partner!

Her excitement to learn gave me an idea: to set up a group lesson with a pro so she can begin to learn doubles. She was ecstatic! And let me tell you…my mother-in-law, Shelley, is full of life! We enjoy spending time together whatever we’re doing. She has a zest for life that keeps her young. She is constantly learning new things, traveling, and soaking up time with her grandchildren playing games. So naturally, she was on board with a group tennis lesson.

The lesson

I booked the lesson with the Tennis Director, Ken Veney, for an hour and a half. I invited two D-team ladies to join us, Lindsay Long and Jennifer Werba. It was important to me that we play with other women who are still beginners to make her feel comfortable. We started with typical warm-up drills practicing baseline strokes, approach shots, and volleys.

Then, we moved into talking about basic doubles positioning and each person’s purpose on the court. If you’ve never heard them before, terms like “garbage collector,” “hot seat,” “big or small” can sound silly, but to play effective doubles, you have to know where to be. Shelley “loved how Ken made the group lesson so much fun by tailoring it to each of our four levels and giving equal advice to us all. His lessons are the BEST! I learned so many aspects of the game because he makes everything understandable.” He does. Ken is a seasoned professional who loves the game and loves instructing others in order to improve their game.

From there, we did fast-paced drills that focused on being in the right position on the court and working with your partner to win the point. It was a great lesson overall, and I really enjoyed the time with my mother-in-law! Plus, she got to meet the ladies I play tennis with every week!

I asked Jen if she would want to do this again, and she said, “I absolutely would want to schedule a similar lesson when family is in town or even with some friends locally.” She adds, “I really liked the doubles drill because it helped reinforce the doubles strategies you want to use in a match.”

Tennis events at Sawgrass

I’ve been so impressed with the social focus Ken and his team have brought to Sawgrass. They tediously plan events, clinics, flexi leagues, and tournaments so members can interact and get to know each other.

One of my favorite events is called “Triples,” and it happens once per month on a Friday night. It’s fast-paced, entertaining, and casual. Be warned…it’s a lot of cardio (but we all need that, right?)! You’ll get your steps in that day for sure. It’s basically three vs. three with a pro on every court feeding in the ball each point. It takes away the serve, which makes it less intense! I won’t go any further explaining it, but sign up on Foretees! The next date is Friday, December 14th. I promise you’ll have fun, and it’s a great way to meet other members who play tennis. For me, it’s a great way to interact with different levels of tennis players…I’m always open to learning, so it’s neat to see how they play versus how I play the game.

Want to play during the week? There are mens and womens clinics during the day and in the evening. And if you have kids, there are kids clinics in the afternoons. Matt and Klara run these clinics, and they are amazing! They’re both so patient with the kids, and they really make it fun with games that teach tennis technique.

Tennis is a game that can be enjoyed at any age and at any level. The staff at the racquet club would love to see YOU on the court! Why not try something new this coming year? According to Ken, “It’s all about fun…this is a way to spend time with your family and do something active while learning new aspects of the game.”

So, when family comes to visit, schedule a tennis lesson with Ken (kveney@sawgrasscountryclub.com) or one of the other pros! Get outside, do something active, and learn new skills!

Chalk Hill – An Iconic Sonoma Vineyard

A seat at a Sawgrass wine dinner is highly prized. They sell out almost immediately, and Chalk Hill was no different. The tables were full of guests anticipating wonderful courses by Chef de Cuisine, Ben Brett, each paired beautifully with Chalk Hill wines. If you haven’t signed up for a wine dinner yet, look for opportunities on Foretees. They are normally on Wednesday and Thursday nights and possibly Friday if it’s a well-known popular brand. The dinners are a great way to taste wines, enjoy new dishes prepared especially for the dinner, and get information about the vineyard…all while relaxing with friends. Chances are you’ll leave knowing more friends than when you got there!

Brittany Darling and Bo Cure

My guide and helper was our own Bo Cure. He is the Sawgrass in-house wine expert. His official title is Wine and Beverage Manager, but he is also a Sommelier and his knowledge shows it! His rapport with both guests and the Chalk Hill representative was confident and comfortable. Bo not only coordinates the wine dinners but he also determines what wines Sawgrass serves on each menu.

Chalk Hill Wines

My husband and I got to experience our first wine dinner experience last night featuring four wines from the Chalk Hill Estate; Chalk Hill Chardonnay, Chalk Hill “Estate” Pinot Noir, Chalk Hill “Estate Red,” and Chalk Hill Red Wine. We’ll talk about the food pairings in a bit, but first a little background on Chalk Hill.

Chalk Hill Estate

Welcome to Chalk Hill Valley. Elevation: 450, Population: 2. This sign is proudly placed at the entrance of Bill Foley’s 1,200 acre Chalk Hill Estate. It speaks to their friendly and family oriented atmosphere. Chalk Hill is located between the cool Russian River appellation and the warm Alexander Valley. The diversity of the Chalk Hill topography creates a broad spectrum of different sites across which can be planted both red and white varieties. The lower, cooler sites are perfect for Chardonnay while the steeper, warmer, south-facing slopes are superbly suited to ripen Bordeaux varietals.

Chalk Hill Wines

According to Marketing Director Denise Roach, “With over 150 accolades, Chalk Hill has earned its place as being one of Sonoma County’s iconic vineyards.” The vineyard manager, Mark, has been with the vineyard for 40 years meticulously managing the growing and harvesting process. He knows when to groom, when to water, when to taste, and finally when to harvest the different types of grapes to ensure a great beginning to wine.

Next the winemakers take over. Truly it is an art form. Their newest winemaker, Courtney Foley, is adding to the unique heritage that defines Chalk Hill. With an estate-wide, shared aesthetic, the winemaking process is light-handed, non-invasive, and sustainable, allowing each bottle to emulate the essence of the vineyard.

More than Wine

There is more to see at Chalk Hill Vineyards beyond the vineyard and wines. The Estate Pavilion is a gorgeous event space overlooking an Olympic-sized dressage riding arena. While this space is large and open, Meghan’s Chapel is a smaller, more intimate gathering space perfect for weddings and events.

In addition to growing grape varietals, Chalk Hill boasts gourmet produce, meats, and poultry. The culinary program is a natural extension of their agricultural heritage. The extensive organic gardens provide the Estate Executive Chef with a bounty of fresh herbs, fruits and vegetables including many heritage varieties – that are used in specially-created dishes designed to showcase their wines.

Chalk Hill Wine Dinner

First Course – Seafood Gocce Scampi. The dish included royal red shrimp, dungeness crab, snow crab, herb gocce, and basil butter. The small hand-made cheese-filled pastas were paired brilliantly with the shrimp. Everyone at the table loved the first course! It was paired with the Chalk Hill Chardonnay, Sonoma Coast, 2017.

Shrimp starter

Second Course – Veal Marsala. The veal was tender and full of flavor! Florida trumpet marsala, arugula, truffle vinaigrette, and baby carrots accompanied the veal. The second dish was paired with Chalk Hill “Estate” Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, 2015.

Veal main dish

Third Course – 1855 Prime Ribeye “Eye.” This was my favorite course! The meat was seared in an 1800 degree oven and plated with roasted marble potatoes, chargrilled “Lini’s,” and topped with a cherry glaze. I believe you could top just about anything with the cherry glaze, and I would LOVE to see it featured on a menu item in the future. This course was accompanied by Chalk Hill “Estate Red,” Chalk Hill Appellation, 2015.

Beef main dish

Dessert – The Chocolate Bomba. For dessert, Chef Ben went above and beyond. I wasn’t sure what the dessert was at first glance, but it was amazing! Imagine a scope of vanilla and chocolate mousse covered in hardened chocolate with a blackberry gastrique surrounding the dessert. It was pure heaven to crack the chocolate shell and dive into the cold soft creamy mousse. Dessert was served with the Chalk Hill Red Wine, Sonoma Coast 2016.

Chocolate dessert at wine dinner

Want more access to wine?

The wine dinners are so fun! We had a ball getting to know the couples at our table and discussing some of our favorite wines and wineries we’ve visited. But if you’re not into wine dinners, there are other ways you can benefit from Bo’s expertise.

  • Order from Bo directly – Is there a wine that you tasted and loved on date night? Call Bo, and he can order you a case. He’ll probably suggest another wine for you to try based on your order and overall palette.
  • Uncorked – As a member of Uncorked, members receive a discounted price for all wine dinners. In addition, Uncorked members enjoy a list of phenomenal wines that are all $20. Bo chooses the wines on this list. He’s also available for consultations for uncorked members. Are you hosting a Christmas party and want to chat about which wines to serve? Call Bo. Do you want to host a wine tasting at your house, call Bo. He can recommend wines and appetizers that will add to the flavors of the wine.
  • Chairman’s Club – If you need even more access to great wine, join the Chairman’s Club. You probably saw an email go out about it recently. There are two levels of membership, two bottle per month or four bottles per month. All bottles are premium wines picked by Bo for our members.

Wine is meant to be enjoyed with friends, and wine dinners are the perfect setting if trying new wines and featured dishes is your thing. We hope to see YOU at the next wine dinner!