Storm recovery is in process and I hope that everyone made it through with the least amount of stress in these difficult circumstances. Having lived in this state for over fifty years, I can safely say it does not get easier with time. Every storm is daunting and unique.
That said, life goes on and the Harbor Hills Ladies Golf Association opens their 28th season on September 12th. Forty-six members will participate in a step-aside scramble. President Deb Markey and Vice President Wanda Kurka encourage all lady golfers who are club members to join this fun group.
Are you a fan of the Ryder Cup? The Harbor Hills version has become a tradition among golf members in our community. Twenty-five years ago, Bram Decker and Ray Goldwire created an event that was both fun for existing members and welcoming for new members. Renamed the Sider Cup, the tournament brings together our golfing community to enjoy the ten day event. This year, red team captain Dave DeCoster and blue team captain Bob Neese will announce pairings at the Captains Dinner on October 14th. The Harbor Hills Ladies Golf Association will hold their own red and blue golf tournament on October 15. This commemorative game is chaired by Becky Hanner and co-chaired by Janet White Cofer. Sider Cup festivities include a golf cart parade, skills challenge and cookout. The tournament concludes with an Awards dinner on October 20.
Speaking of traditions, the Veteran Golf Association is holding their National Championship on October 27-30 at the fabulous Greenbrier Resort in West Virginia. Eighty players from the Regional Championships were invited to compete. Congratulations and good luck to our friend and neighbor John Bircher who advanced to the National finals. ‘Upward and onward!’
We just completed a week of tracking and preparing for Hurricane Dorian. The storm stayed well east of Harbor Hills and we received very little disruption to our daily lives. Unfortunately, the Bahamas incurred a devastating blow and we wish them a speedy recovery as they rebuild. We also wish the best to our coastal neighbors. At the time of this writing they are currently in the storm’s crosshairs in neighboring states. Please consider donating to the Red Cross or other charitable organizations of your choosing to assist in the rebuilding of the areas that were most affected.
When considering moving to or within Florida, performing a personal hurricane risks and costs assessment should be a priority consideration. Harbor Hills is located in Central Florida in the safest area from hurricanes, according to homeinsurance.com. Our residents enjoy our beautiful and moderate Central Florida climate while maintaining a reduced risk from Hurricanes. Typically major hurricanes that hit our coasts, classified as Category 3, 4, or 5, are significantly reduced to Category 1 or 2 by the time they arrive at Harbor Hills. Category 1 and 2 storms are typically reduced to tropical storm force winds thereby significantly reducing the risks of major structural damage.
The State of Florida is known to have one of the best building codes in the country. This code is adopted and updated every 3 years and is amended annually to incorporate interpretations, clarifications and to update standards. New homes in Harbor Hills are designed to meet and exceed the latest building codes. All new homes in Harbor Hills are constructed using concrete block with columns that are reinforced with steel rebar and filled with poured concrete. Our concrete foundations are reinforced with an extra bar of steel rebar known as the Palm Beach chair system. Energy Star certified, double pane, low E windows are designed to meet and exceed storm wind loads that occur in our area. Each roof truss is strapped into a poured concrete lintel creating a continuous structure from the roof down through the foundation. New homes utilize the newest Certainteed shingles and are attached to a synthetic underlayment. In fact manufactured items, from trusted brand names, are used throughout our homes.
Not only does our location and new home construction techniques reduce your hurricane risks but it also saves you money. Insurance rates in our area are now understandably so, amongst the lowest rates in Florida. Combined with a 30%-50% energy savings, and reduced maintenance and renovations costs, new homes are designed to substantially lower the long term cost of ownership.
We invite you to continue to explore our private, low density guard-gated community that is set amongst mature oak tree and sidewalk lined streets with NO CDD fees. Our country club delivers personal service with top notch amenities. Combined with our award winning homes and neighborhood all delivered at an extraordinary value and it is easy to see why many of our residents refer to Harbor Hills as the best place to live in Central Florida.
Junior Golf at Harbor Hills Country Club
Junior golf programs have been an essential avenue for young golfers who love the game. College scholarships and the potential of a professional career are strong incentives. Familiar names such as Jim Furyk, Phil Michelson, Paula Creamer and Cristie Kerr all progressed through the ranks of junior golf. Our own Harbor Hills golf professional Tom Leimberger has been highly successful in bringing junior golf tournaments to our community.
One such tour is the Mid-Florida Junior Golf Tour recently played in Harbor Hills. The tour began play as the Marion County Junior Golf Tour in 2013. In the fall of 2016, courses included those in Lake, Sumter, Citrus and Alachua counties. Harbor Hills Country Club, Juliette Falls and Black Bear were added in 2018.
Daya Shaktawat, Chris Tatro and Trip Watkins were among the youngsters that rose to the challenge and won their divisions. At nine years old, Daya posted a 43 for 9 holes! The Harbor Hills Junior Golf Summer Program recently completed another successful season. “Inspiring young golfers is critical to growing the sport,” Tom explains. “Kids who enjoy the game are more likely to become golfers for a lifetime.”
First Academy of Leesburg has named Harbor Hills as the home course of their high school golf team. 16 year old Ethan and 10 year old Trevor Orobitg are First Academy students who live in our community and have been working with Tom for many years. The first of five First Academy matches to be played at Harbor Hills is on September 3rd. The public is invited to come out and support youth golf and cheer on our hometown kids! For more information and tournament dates, call the Pro Shop at 352-753-7711.
Peter & Nancy Steriti
Nancy and Peter moved to Central Florida in 2008. Mid-July they moved into their new Home in Bella Vista.
Both were raised in large traditional Italian families in and around Greater Boston. Peter’s roots were in the culture of Boston’s North End, a wonderfully unique Italian neighborhood; Nancy nearby in Cambridge and Sommerville. The North End was densely populated with over ten thousand people. Most residents were first and second-generation Italians. Heads of families emigrated from different parts of Italy. Each brought their regional diversity, values, and regional cuisine with them. The North End was a working-class community. Men took hard jobs while their wives took care of households and children. It was all about family and family values. Mealtime was important, a time to relax and simply talk about their day over simple but great food. Nancy also was blessed with a large extended family with similar traditions. All were great cooks, especially her dad. He was a chef at a variety of Italian restaurants in Boston’s North End. The North End didn’t have any big grocery store chains. Instead there were many specialties stores catering to the neighborhood’s often unique demands including imported Italian specialties. Bakeries were abundant and fresh seafood always available. Neighborhood butcher shops specialized in different and unique cuts of meats, pounded veal scallops and thin rectangular cuts of beef and pork for stuffed braciola. It was also common seeing whole lambs or rabbits hanging on hooks for display.
Dad died when I was only 13. Mom and I lived alone but were blessed with lots of family and our wonderful community. Although poor, we never worried about fulfilling any of our needs. Mom was protective and caring and we frequently cooked together. My greatest possession is mom’s hand-written cooking notebooks loaded with recipes and cut and pasted collages from newspapers magazines and food packages. There are many notes including those reminding her which her son Peter liked best. Peter preserved mom’s and his recipes and eventually created a cooking and blogging website, www.LuciaTramonte.com, named in honor of his mother Lucia. Tramonte was his mom’s maiden name. “My website features many traditional family recipes and classics; sauces, risotto, polenta, specialty pizza and flatbreads, homemade breads, puff pastry appetizers, homemade season mix, desserts, meats and poultry, vegetables, pot roasted garlic and infused oil, Asian specialties, and many more.”
Peter also has a monthly food column with recipes in one of The Villages magazines. For first time visitors to his website, he suggests viewing the bottom of his home page. It displays pictures and links to many of the recipes inside.
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 floridaswater.com.
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!
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.
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!
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 tpi.com, for exercises and the tip of the day. As Player said, “The harder you work, the luckier you get!”
Smiles are extra-special at a unique school in Howey-in-the-Hills, Florida. The Lake Hills School is a coeducational public special needs school for students in Pre-Kindergarten through Grade 12. Two hundred and twenty students with significant cognitive disabilities attend daily. They require extensive support to learn basic academics and process the world around them.
Principal Dr. Robin Meyers holds an Ed.D in Educational Leadership. Her extensive knowledge of and certification in autism spectrum disorders make her uniquely qualified for this challenging role.
Lake Hills School is a local learning center championed by the Harbor Hills Lakes Charity. Dr. Meyers said, “We are so grateful to have the Harbor Hills Ladies Charity support our school. The Charity and Harbor Hills Development have donated nearly $20,000 this year alone.”
Technology plays an integral role in the lives of these children. From assistive technology with voice-output to modified materials and equipment, every avenue is utilized to communicate in alternative ways. Donations go towards the purchase of expensive assistive technology and adaptive equipment for students with physical disabilities.
In addition to Lake Hills School, other local organizations adopted by the Harbor Hills Ladies Charity include The Christian Food Pantry of Lady Lake, The Haven of Lake and Sumter Counties, Fruitland Park Elementary and The Villages Elementary School.
The Harbor Hills Ladies Charity welcomes new officers for the 2019-2020 season. They are: President, Sue Rice; VP, Ruth Palmer; Secretary, Phyllis Leonard; Co-Secretary, Susie Connor; Treasurer, Missey Sackett; Co-Treasurer, Leslie Nisun; Historian, Nancy Flood; Co-Historian, Marlene Bacsik; Philanthropy, Mary Johnson and Co-Chair, Judy Kiley. Many thanks to past President Sandy Crabtree and all the officers and chairwomen who worked hard to make the 2018-2019 season an outstanding success.