Emeralda Marsh

August is Water Quality Month and it’s the perfect time to think about nearby Lake Griffin. The lake is adjacent to the Harbor Hills community, providing spectacular views as well as fishing from the neighborhood dock. The area is part of the Emeralda Marsh Conservation Area known as the Jewel of Lake County. It is home to a wide variety of plant and animal life including rare birds. It’s one of the most scenic sites along the Great Florida Birding Trail. The 7,089-acre US wildlife area is maintained by the St. Johns Water Management District. In 1974, the conservation area was designated as a National Natural Landmark.

The state of Florida is home to one-fifth of the country’s wetlands. Protection of these fragile areas is critical. Half of all North American bird species and other endangered animals use wetlands for feeding and nesting. In winter, songbirds, marsh birds and ducks migrate to Emeralda Marsh. Flocks of snowy egrets and sandhill cranes stroll gracefully through the nearby neighborhoods of Harbor Hills. The sturdy branches of our fairway trees provide ample cover and a grand perspective for the occasional bald eagle.

Today, area visitors find an abundance of wetland wildlife as well as boating, hiking and fishing. Open waters are stocked with fish by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.  Neighbors Ken Kurth, Dr. Dan Wassell, Dan Kurka and Mike Doyle are a few of our recreational anglers.  Others include Barry Palmer, Tom Ingram, Mark Witkop and Mike Cofer. They enjoy fishing the many interconnected lakes of the scenic Harris Chain including Lake Griffin.

Much work has been done to improve our local water quality and restore a thriving habitat for our plant and animal life. For information, visit



Solheim Cup 2019

The popularity of women’s golf has exploded in recent years. Names such as Lexi Thompson, Cristie Kerr, Canadian Brooke Henderson and of course our own Nancy Lopez are easily part of our golf vocabulary. LPGA tournaments take us all over the globe including France, England, China, Japan and three majors in the US. Last year, five different players from five countries won the five LPGA majors, an outstanding example of the global talent in the women’s game.

Harbor Hills friend and neighbor Debbie Bizal is a member of the prestigious Women’s Committee of the USGA. The group advises the Executive Committee in matters related to women’s golf. ‘The USGA conducts fifteen women’s pro and amateur championships a year.’, she explains. Debbie will attend six of those tournaments this year.

The men have their Ryder Cup, a head-to-head team competition between Europe and the United States. Not to be outdone, the Solheim Cup is the women’s equivalent. Created in 1990 in Florida, the competition is named after club manufacturer Karsten Solheim. It’s a Ryder Cup format, positioning the US versus Europe in twenty-eight exciting matches with the best female golfers in the world. The competition takes place September 13th-15th at the glorious Gleneagles Golf Course in Perthshire, Scotland. I was very fortunate to visit and stay at this luxury golf resort years ago.

The Solheim Cup was last played in 2017 with teams led by Captains Juli Inkster and Annika Sörenstam. The United States women proved victorious. This year, Inkster returns as US captain and Scottish professional golfer Catriona Matthew will head the European team. Can the US triumph again? Can we beat the Europeans in the very country where golf was born? Let’s support our team and retain the Cup!


Bluebird Box

A warm welcome to the many homeowners new to Harbor Hills. It’s great to see some new faces at the clubhouse, pool, courts and golf course. Tonight, we will gather in the Griffinview Lounge for the ‘Meet A Neighbor, Bring A Neighbor’ event. Two-for-one drinks, light appetizers and live entertainment can’t be beat for sharing the company of friends, old and new.

Speaking of positive receptions, Member Appreciation Day has been rescheduled to Saturday, August 17. Harbor Hills club members will be treated to a special afternoon event poolside. We expect a great turnout and lots of fun.

There are so many unique aspects to our community and the spectacular view is only one. Strolling peacocks and sand hill cranes dot the hills of our rolling fairways. Newcomers also notice small wooden nest boxes placed high on poles along our golf course.

In 2012, resident Debbie Schrader rallied the Harbor Hills community to create these nest boxes to provide a safe habitat for the declining population of bluebirds. Harbor Hills neighbors quickly responded. With the developer’s approval and the talent of neighbors Bill Stone and Jim Griffith, thirty of the boxes were crafted to house these brightly colored birds.

From mid-February through mid-July, the bluebirds lay about five light blue eggs to a nest. In just two weeks, the eggs hatch. The fledglings leave the nest 15 to 20 days later so golfers, be aware!

Fostering a love for these birds is exactly what Debbie hoped would happen. She estimated that 150 additional bluebird babies are added to our community annually. To enjoy the sights and sounds of these beautiful birds, visit Harbor Hills and experience our unique community first hand. We are open to the public seven days a week year round.


Sunday Brunch

Yummy! The month of July is filled with delectable holidays that give us reason to celebrate.  National Creative Ice Cream Flavor Day, Slurpee Day, National French Fries Day and my personal favorite, National Lasagna Day mark the month in both a sweet and savory style.

Harbor Hills Country Club challenges all those tasty summer holidays with its own array of dining choices. The public is invited to enjoy a Birdie Breakfast Buffet in the Signature Grille Room every Sunday from 8-10:45AM. Eggs and omelets made to order, waffles, bacon, muffins and more for $8.99/pp.

From 11AM to 2PM, Harbor Hills’ popular Sunday brunch is always open to the public and a very special choice. Located on the Upper Terrace, the view overlooking our Signature 10th fairway is spectacular. Eggs Benedict, made-to-order crepes, a carving station, seafood and outstanding desserts make for a unique experience. Reservations are required, 352-753-7000.

Every Wednesday, club members are treated to a special Member Dinner from 5PM-6:15PM. The Signature Grille menu is featured. As always, desserts are exceptional. RSVP by 1PM Wednesday.

Friday night dining features a special 2 for $40 menu from 5:30-8:30PM. Open to the public, it includes one starter to share, two salad bars and your choice of two entrees. During the summer months, not every Friday is offered. Check with the clubhouse at 352-753-7000 for more information.

This Saturday, Harbor Hills Country Club members will be treated to a special event. It’s Member Appreciation Day, poolside from 12-3PM. Grilled hot dogs and chips are complimentary. Enjoy the cash bar and drink specials, too. Call the club to RSVP at 352-753-7000. I will see you there!


Les Johnson

As seniors and as golfers, we hear so much about the need for flexibility and core strength to prevent injury. Longevity is our goal, both in the sport and in life.

Gary Player was the first golfer to recognize the benefits of physical fitness in the game. Early on, Player devoted himself to proper nutrition, strength and conditioning to stay competitive. Today, at 83 years old, he is still the poster child for the benefits of long-term physical fitness.

From his first Masters win in 1961 to his accomplishments at the Senior Player Championships, Gary is a self-proclaimed fitness fanatic. But for us high(er) handicappers, our strength training need not reach fanatic levels to generate more power in our swings and more fun in our play.

Tom Leimberger, Harbor Hills golf pro, agrees. “Golf fitness improves flexibility, range of motion and balance,” he explains. “All are critical factors in increasing swing speed, which in turn results in greater distance.”

Diet and exercise also contribute to increased energy and a positive mindset. Our Harbor Hills friend and neighbor, Les Johnson is a perfect example. At the age of 88, Les has shot his age and under 600 times. (Yes, you read that right!) In 2017, Les won the bronze medal for golf at the National Senior Games in Birmingham, Alabama. His incredible feat was celebrated in a special Mingling Monday event in the community.

What is Les Johnson’s secret? A one-hour fitness routine each day, no exception, and a bowl of Wheaties every morning. Leimberger suggests checking out the Titleist Performance Institute website, my, for exercises and the tip of the day. As Player said, “The harder you work, the luckier you get!”

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