In SLV, Golf Can Be a Game for Everyone

golf group everyone

“I’ve never played golf. No use in starting now.”’

“I don’t think I’d be any good at it.”

“I probably wouldn’t like golf that much. It looks hard.”

These are just some of the reasons people might offer for why they aren’t interested in taking up the game of golf. Then, one day, they try it. And they get hooked.

One of golf’s greatest, Arnold Palmer, describes the game this way:

“What other people may find in poetry or art museums,
I find in the flight of a good (golf) drive.”

It doesn’t matter how well or bad you play, you will find a special peace and real passion that emerges from the game. You can soak yourself into the environment like you’re playing your way through nature.

That’s why they say “golf is a game for everyone.” Yes, even people who haven’t played their entire lives. Come discover what it’s like. Hang with us while we explain what’s available to you.

Savannah Lakes Village has some of the best golf courses in the state, and they are situated on beautiful Lake Thurmond amid the national forest.

If you want to give golf a try or are interested, SLV has many ways you can get involved.
First, there are some traditional ways:

Daily Golf Availability
Call Cathy, Bob, Gareth, Sophia or Shannon at either Monticello (391-4175) or Tara (391-4115) and they’ll get you set up with a tee time that works for you.

Thursday Play
Although Thursdays are MGA and WGA play days, slots are available on Thursday mornings beginning at 9:30 a.m.

Golf Academy
Are you interested in golf lessons? Our golf academy can help you with your game. Call Gareth Edwards at 391-4175 for information. Gareth routinely provides specific game-related lessons, plus on-course playing lessons. It’s a great idea to start the game off with the right techniques. Those who’ve played for years also can brush up on their game.

Get Involved in a Golf Group
Golf is also a social sport. We have many golf groups available that can fit your needs. The golf courses at Savannah Lakes Village offer social and competitive golf outings five days a week. Social rounds are non-competitive and scoring is for bragging rights. Competitive rounds, while also for bragging rights, are played strictly by the rules of golf and require a USGA handicap. Neighborlink will have announcements for all of the golf groups. You may contact either pro shop for additional information.

Green Tees
Tuesday’s event is hosted by the “Green Tee” players. This informal social group plays in the afternoon and is perfect for the beginner just learning the game or the seasoned pro wishing to sharpen his or her short game skills. The “Green Tees” play anywhere from 100 to 200 yards per hole. Because of afternoon tee times, the Green Tee players suspend play during the hottest summer months.

Men’s Social Group 9
On Wednesday and Friday, the Men’s Social Group 9 (MSG 9) players are on the courses. This fun group plays nine holes and alternates between the two courses. The MSG 9 finishes each season with the Green Jacket Tournament.

Thursday morning the Men’s Golf Association and the Women’s Golf Association take to the course. There are both nine- and 18-hole groups. This competitive group conducts weekly tournaments, alternating between individual and team-flighted events. No need to sign up early for these groups. There are a number of benefits when joining the MGA or WGA: hole-in-one insurance for play on either SLV course, and MGA and WGA Club championships, just to name a few.

Fore Fun
The Fore Fun group meets on Thursday. This afternoon social group plays nine holes of Captain’s Choice (a scramble) and adjourns to the River Grille for a post-round drink or dinner. Dinner is pre-ordered at the start of the round. The shotgun start allows everyone to finish at the same time, and the staff monitors pace of play so that dinner is ready and waiting.

Dog Fight
Friday is “Dog Fight” day. This is competitive team play, and advanced signup at the Tara Pro Shop is required. The formats vary week to week. The pro shop makes up the teams, balancing the handicaps as best as possible.

Nine & Dine
Looking for a great way to meet and interact with people while enjoying golf and good food? Take part in Nine & Dine. The program provides you with an opportunity to play socially or competitively, then have dinner at The River Grille following your round. Nine & Dine takes place at the Tara Golf Course from May through August on the first and third Sundays. Play takes place with shotgun starts at 4 p.m. (check in at 3:30), and you will play nine holes before dinner. The chef will prepare four entree options for each event. You will need to sign up for your entree choice ahead of time. Nine & Dine is open to all Savannah Lakes Village residents. You will need to sign up as a twosome (can be mixed or same-gender pairings). You have two options: the social group or the competitive group. With the social group, you do not need a handicap, and you pay regular rates for afternoon play if you don’t have an annual membership. With the competitive group, you will need to have a USGA handicap and contribute $5, in addition to regular golf fees, to go toward prize money. The competitive group will be net best ball of the twosome.

For information about these groups, contact our pro shops, and our team members will help connect you with the people who lead these groups. Make sure you are taking advantage of these wonderful courses – and you might make a lot of new friends, too.

DEBUT: New SLV Restaurant Menus

MENU_new menu topper

Savannah Lakes Village debuts new menus for the River Grille and the Grill at Monticello this week. Member feedback and the popularity of past chef specials were the driving forces behind the creation of the menus.

The new dinner menu, which starts Tuesday night, features all new entrees to go with some of your regular favorites. Make reservations by calling 391-4163.

The new lunch menus at the River Grille and the Grill at Monticello start Wednesday.


Chef John Caswell, who is also Director of Food & Beverage Operations, says the process of designing a new menu begins with his team looking at the old menu and seeing what items are popular with the membership and which ones are less popular.

The F&B team replaces less popular items with new items they believe members will enjoy and appreciate.

“Some of these selections are items that are seasonally appropriate,” John said. “For example, for our fall/winter menus, we incorporate more red meat and more hearty items for the Carolina cool season.”

Members can expect more variety with the new menus. Actually, many of the new offerings are already familiar to restaurant regulars. SLV has offered most of the new menu items as chef specials in the past to test member response and feedback.

“Once we establish items that our members enjoy, then we work with our crew to establish recipe guidelines so our products can be as consistent as possible,” the chef said.


One thing that is important is using as much locally sourced food and ingredients as possible.

“It is a trend derived from our ability as a community to use self-sustaining food sources without the byproduct of mass-produced farming,” John said. “The benefits are to our local growers. Our community also has a much healthier way of sourcing our food.”


Wine lovers will be happy to see that the new dinner menu at the River Grille showcases wine suggestions for pairing with each entrée.

“The thought process behind the pairing of wine with food goes back centuries,” John said. “It was derived from the combination of food with the complementary flavors naturally produced in wine. The earthy flavors of red cabernet go well with red meat, for example.

John started the process of creating the food first – then he paired the food with the wines that best complement the food.

“The end result will be a great marriage of food and wine,” the chef said. “With every bite our members take of the food, they can wash it down with complementary flavors of a paired wine.”


  • The shrimp and grits dish is inspired by Chef John’s days in Charleston, where just about every restaurant had its own creative way of doing this classic Charleston dish.


  • Chicken Chesapeake is inspired from Chef John’s days of living in the Baltimore area. It combines a traditional Maryland-style crab cake on top of a grilled chicken breast and is topped with a champagne sauce.


  • The Savannah Lakes BLT is a pub-style menu offering. It comes with thick-cut Applewood smoked bacon and a cracked black pepper aioli.


  • “The liver and onions dish is an SLV classic – a menu item our members love,” John said.


  • The Clubhouse Grind Burger is a blend of beef brisket, sirloin and short rib. The end result is a savory, delicious burger.


  • The chef salad wrap is a healthy, delicious wrap for our lunch diners.


  • The inspiration for the Cuban sandwich comes from Chef John’s trips to South Florida. “I always eat these delicious pressed-pork sandwiches,” the chef said. “This is a great choice for those cold, winter months.”


  • The carne asada wrap is a grilled sirloin wrap with sun-dried tomato aoli and avocado. The meat is soaked in a homemade marinade. “The inspiration is from my love of Cuban cuisine,” the chef said.


  • The patty melt is an eight-ounce burger patty grilled and topped with Swiss cheese and caramelized onions. This was inspired by the old pub and dinner menus that always feature this great sandwich.


  • The Down South Pork Loin is a seven-ounce piece of pork loin pounded out and marinated in locally sourced Hickory Hill buttermilk. It is breaded in locally sourced Adluh Flour Meal breaded mix and topped with homemade pepper gravy. “This dish was inspired from my days as a chef in Charleston, where I learned about Southern cuisine,” John said.


  • The Rosemary Fig Grilled Salmon is a North Atlantic grilled salmon topped with a rosemary fig compote. “The inspiration for this dish comes from my love of California cuisine and my fondness of Chef Thomas Keller. The flavors of the fig and rosemary blend perfectly with the flavor of grilled salmon,” John said.


  • The inspiration for the Tomato Basil Pesto Chicken Pasta comes from Chef John’s love of Thai cuisine. “This is an excellent choice for our pasta lovers,” he said.


  • The grilled Angus sirloin is a center cut of certified Angus sirloin steak topped with an earthy mushroom demi-glace. “The inspiration for this dish comes from my love of steaks,” John said. “This is a great steak for our steak lovers.”


  • Beef or chicken nachos are a classic bar and pub feel-good menu item.


  • Don’t miss trying our highly popular Carolina pulled-pork barbecue sandwich.


Click the titles below to view a PDF version of each menu. 

 RG_dinner_icon  RG_lunch_icon  Monti_icon_2015
River Grille Dinner River Grille Lunch Monticello Menu

SLV Veterans Take Honor Flight to Washington

Four veterans from Savannah Lakes Village recently took part in the 20th celebration of the South Carolina Honor Flight to Washington, D.C.

SLV residents invited included the group of Scotty Bies (served during WWII in Naval Aviation), J.B. Gividen (U.S. Navy), Dick Torrey (U.S. Marine Corps), and Eddie Bryan (pilot, U.S. Air Force).

Gividen, Torrey and Bryan served during the Korean War.

JB applaudingDuring the Gold Rush Days in McCormick in the fall of 2014, a contact was made at the Republican Women’s booth with Norma Curtis, who provided information for the Honor Flight and provided applications for the men to fill out. Later in the year, a phone call from Terry Pound, operations manager for the Honor Flight, came with an invitation to be a member of the next Honor Flight to Washington.

On September 16, 2015 a meeting was held where the men were informed of the itinerary for the flight, were introduced to “flight guardians” (people who escort and assist veterans with any needs during the time away), and received an Honor Flight jacket and baseball cap, indicating which war they were veterans of.

All ready to go, though, J.B. took a serious blow to the face from a fall a week before and was in a wheelchair because of limited mobility. Nothing would change this group’s decision to go. It was one of the most heartwarming trips ever taken.

Here is the group’s story in their own words:

biesThe four of us from SLV joined about 100 others in participating in Honor Flight to Washington on October 14. The flight was to depart Columbia at 8 a.m., and we were to report at 6:30 a.m. We arrived at the Columbia airport right on time, were welcomed by civic volunteers, offered juice, coffee, pastries, and met with our guardian for the flight. Every aspect of our needs was tended to. Everything was thought out, right down to the available parking for everyone coming out to support the Honor Flight. At the boarding gate there was a large crowd of enthusiastic well-wishers thanking us all for our service. The flight was on a patriotically decorated American Airlines Airbus 320 aircraft. Even the flight attendants were attired with red, white and blue accessories.

The flight, which only took an hour, was smooth and uneventful. Upon our arrival to D.C., our plane had to pass between the gigantic fire trucks to get to our parking spot. As we passed between, both trucks turned on their water cannons, and our plane passed underneath the cannon streams. This usually is a tribute reserved for visiting dignitaries. That should have given us a clue as to what was in store for us the rest of the day.

eddie bryanWe departed from the aircraft at Reagan International in Washington and boarded chartered buses. We were again greeted by a throng of well-wishers. We were all assigned to different tour buses, driven to the WWII Memorial, and had a tour of downtown D.C., complete with a box lunch, then went on to the Korean, Vietnam, and Lincoln memorials, followed by visits to the Iwo Jima and Women’s War Memorial.

Our last stop was at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington Cemetery to witness the Changing of the Guard and the Wreath Ceremony. All of the memorials were awesome. The Iwo Jima Memorial, with its sheer size, was overwhelming.

We were at the Korean Memorial in time for the wreath-laying ceremony, at which there were Korean dignitaries. Army Rangers stationed in Korea were present along with the four-star general in charge in Korea. The general presented a memento of their motto and asked JB to carry it with him.

We were back aboard our aircraft by 5:30 p.m. and headed home. We arrived right on schedule back in Columbia, and upon disembarking into the main terminal, things got a bit crazy. There were hundreds of people there to greet us – the Knights of Columbus, state troopers, Boy and Girl Scout troops, civic leaders, bikers, veterans of different wars, AFJROTC Honor Guard, city police, youngsters and parents, and even the military band from Fort Jackson.

dick torreyThe outpouring of appreciation was overwhelming, and if any one of us didn’t try to hide a tear of thanks, you were just too numb to digest the moment. This trip was one that brought tears to eyes several times, especially when children of all ages would come up to you, shake your hand and thank you for your service to our country.

The men all agreed that it was a wonderful day and felt very thankful to be honored in such a way. Most of the veterans were from the Korean War, some were from WWII, and there were a few from the Vietnam War. After an hour-and-a-half motor trip, we were back home safely, completely exhausted, but left with memories of a lifetime.

honor flight 2 pichonor flight 3 pichonor flight 5honor flight 4

To see more pictures of the Honor Flight, click HERE.

Detroit College Golf Team Enjoying Courses, Weather in Savannah Lakes


The Wayne State men’s golf team and SLV residents who participated with them on Wednesday at Monticello.

Maybe you’ve seen some young – and very good – golfers on the Savannah Lakes Village courses this week. They are collegiate players from Wayne State University in Detroit, Mich., and they are here to enjoy the sunshine and play as much golf as possible before their season gets into full swing.

So, you might be wondering why Wayne State players would come all the way to South Carolina for golf. It’s simple: word-of-mouth networking.

Wayne10The team started coming to Hickory Knob State Resort Park to play about eight years ago. SLV residents Lowell and Pat Martin, who lived near Wayne State when they lived in Michigan, took a special interest in having the players experience playing the lake courses at Savannah Lakes Village.

Lowell said it all started with some NGA Tour (now Tour) players who were from Wayne State who came here to play in the annual Savannah Lakes Village Classic. Through those players, Lowell and Pat met Wayne State coach Michael Horn.

“This is their warmup for their golf season,” Pat said. “It’s just a fun competition now that we have some of the members participating with them. The members get to know some younger people and get to play a little tougher crowd. It’s good competition for both sides.”

The Wayne State team has been here since Saturday, March 14. They have played eight rounds of golf between the SLV courses of Monticello and Tara, and the Hickory Knob course. They’ve experienced good weather. On Wednesday, it was 66 here. By contrast, it was 47 in Detroit.

The coach said the Martins and others have been especially hospitable in welcoming the team to SLV for the past few years. On Wednesday, foursomes in the best ball match included two local residents and two Wayne State players.


Wayne State coach Michael Horn, left, talks to SLV residents Pat and Lowell Martin.

“First of all, getting out of the snow is a big part of it,” Horn said about coming here. “But everyone is so gracious and welcoming in having us down here; and the kids don’t quite know how well they have it. But I think they grow to (appreciate it) over the course of their three or four years as they come down here.

“Everybody is so thrilled to have us down here, and it’s so nice to deal with courses and communities like that – where sometimes during the course of our year, where we play tournaments, the golf courses don’t really want us there, for whatever reason.”

Wayne State headed up to Spartanburg on Tuesday to play Spartanburg Methodist College. The team has to play a college team while here because of NCAA regulations. They aren’t allowed to travel more than 100 miles away from campus without playing another college team.

The team’s Wednesday best ball match was at Monticello.

“It’s in great shape,” the coach said of the course. “The greens are fun to play … great layout. Just the competition and camaraderie with the members here is great. The life experiences they share with my younger guys … They get a big kick out of it.”

Director of Golf Operations for SLV, Bob McIntosh, said, “We anticipate their arrival every year. It’s great to see all the young talent.”

Senior Wayne State golfers Robert Favaro and Reid Dean are here on their fourth trip.

“It’s always cold in Michigan where we live,” Robert said. “The people (here) are always nice and courteous to us, and the golf courses are awesome. You get to play with people who live here and hear their background and backstory and why they’re here. It’s a nice break from the rest of the rounds of golf.”

Reid concurred. “It’s awesome,” he said. “It’s a lot nicer than Detroit. The courses here are beautiful, and the people treat us great. They host a dinner for us every year. It’s enjoyable. Unfortunately, sometimes they get the better of us. The first year we came down, they (SLV members) gave us a pretty good whooping.”

Resident Paul Dehlinger played to “support the university, support the kids and have fun. I want to keep up with them,” he said.


SLV resident Ed Weaver looks on as teams prepare for Wednesday’s match.

Resident Ed Weaver has joined the Martins and Jim Staggs in helping host the team and organize play. Ed said the Wayne State golfers enjoy a relaxed place to play. “This seems to be a place that fits their bill,” he said. “They seem to be very happy here. They’ve had nothing but good comments about Savannah Lakes since they’ve been here.

“I think they are not only an asset for us, marketing-wise, but I think it really contributes to their golf program. I just love to see these young men enjoy their activity out here,” Ed continued. “They are so well-disciplined. They don’t ask for anything more than what we get here. I think it’s an overall asset to us.”

Jim was having the players over to his home after the round for a potluck dinner. He said his experience with the team has been very positive.

I noticed them several years ago when people weren’t paying much attention to them,” he said. “I got to know them. What really impressed me was how polite they are.

“On the golf course, every one of them fixes every divot on the greens … all the ball marks. They are just polite and fun to have around.”

The players haven’t had much of a chance to do anything outside of playing golf since they’ve been here but, on Wednesday night, Jim planned for them to enjoy a good time away from the course.

“Then we go downstairs and play some pool and see who can beat the coach,” he said. “Trust me. I don’t want to play him, and it’s my pool table. He’s that good.”

Keeping it Authentic: Focus on Native Plants in SLV


Savannah Lakes Village resident Yvonne Morris is focusing on the significance of native plants in her role as president of the Garden Club of South Carolina.

The president’s project is called “Native Plants: Sustaining Our Wildlife Habitats from the Backyard to the Botanical Garden.”

The project has a catchy slogan: Plant N.I.C.E. (Natives Instead of Common Exotics).


Yvonne Morris

“Gardeners have become important players in the management of our nation’s wildlife and must realize the importance of native plants in our yards and gardens,” said Yvonne, who is a retired South Carolina public school educator. “We can no longer relegate nature to our parks and preserves. We can no longer replace native vegetation and trees with foreign or exotic plants.”

Yvonne learned quickly that deer do not prefer the native plants she has in her yard.

“Before, I used to buy those lovely exotic ornamentals from the local plant supply stores,” she said. “The deer would feast on my daylilies and hydrangeas. Now they walk by my native azaleas and native perennials. I have many bees and butterflies thriving in the yard. I even see earthworms and ladybugs. The Japanese beetles do not even visit anymore.”

Yvonne said North American native plants are disappearing because of development, agribusiness and chemical application – and the centuries-old love affair with alien or exotic plants. This results in loss of wildlife habitat, erosion, reduced genetic diversity, and a disconnection of people to the land, she said. When native plants are replaced with nonnatives (exotics or aliens), this produces a landscape susceptible to pests and diseases. Beneficial insects, birds, butterflies, and bees cannot feed off nonnatives because their leaf chemistry differs from the native plants they need to make proteins, Yvonne explained.

“Greatly reducing the lawn or by planting natives grasses, the homeowner can conserve water,” Yvonne said. “In fact, it is not necessary to have an irrigation system with native plants.”

She said to choose species based on soil, light, and water conditions of your site – and use mulch around plants. The critical watering needs of newly planted species are two to three weeks after planting.

“Seek native species in nurseries and ones that grow together naturally,” Yvonne said. “Ask your local nurseries to stock native plants.”

A native plant is any plant that historically grew in North America. A plant can only function as a true native when it is interacting with the community that helped shape it.

“We need native plants for biodiversity,” Yvonne notes. “We need native plants to sustain our wildlife habitats from the backyard to the botanical garden.”

Yvonne said it is biodiversity that generates oxygen and clean water, creates topsoil out of rock, buffers extreme weather, pollinates our crops and recycles the garbage we create.

“Native plants are all around us,” she said. “When I see bulldozers striping our lots of every tree and vegetation, I just cry.”

Homeowners should not cut down all trees on their property, Yvonne cautions. They should reduce their lawns and include more natural areas. If they have done this, then they can reestablish native plant communities on their property. A native landscape not only reduces water consumption, but it provides a home for beneficial insects, birds, butterflies, and bees. Yvonne said homeowners need to assess their property’s environmental conditions and match native species to site condition, as well as personal preference.

“Keep in mind that a landscape complements the house,” she said. “You want the landscape to enhance your home.”

Native plants in the SLV area can include: flowering dogwood, purple coneflower, American wisteria, coreopsis, black-eyed Susan, eastern columbine, butterfly milkweed, narrow leaf sunflower, rosemallow, wild hydrangea, phlox, wild azaleas, lemon beebalm, bergamot, red maples, sugar maple, pines, birch, hickory magnolia, white fringe tree, wax myrtles, trumpet creeper vine, and Carolina jessamine.

For a complete list of native plants for South Carolina, see:

Yvonne’s presidential project goals are to:

  • Educate members and the public of the importance of native plants in our ecosystems and their restoration to our gardens
  • Increase the popularity of growing native plants
  • Create awareness of the impact of individual gardeners
  • Develop partnerships with the  South Carolina native Plant Society (SCNPS) and the State Botanical Garden (SCBG) to promote public understanding of our state’s heritage plants; to sustain our native wildlife habitats from the backyard to the botanical garden; and to host with the SCNPS a GCSC Native Plant Symposium in 2016 at our SCBG
  • Partner with Riverbanks Botanical Garden, our GCSC Headquarters, in contribution for the GCSC Native Plant Garden in the Interactive Youth Garden (currently under construction with completion date of winter 2015) and to hold 2016 and 2017 Youth Symposiums there
  • Engage a GCSC Botanical Advisor/Native Plant Expert
  • Develop criteria for naming a “SC Native Plant of the Year” in 2016 and 2017 and have GCSC clubs complete nomination application. (Winning club will receive $250. Plant will be featured on our website and will be planted in the GCSC Native Plant Garden at Riverbanks Botanical Garden.)
  • Establish distinguished honorary memberships for noted South Carolina botanists, naturalists, writers, artists, and philanthropists who support our love of gardening

After years of public school service, Yvonne tried to play golf in retirement but her heart wasn’t in it. She always loved gardening, so she joined the McCormick Garden Club in 2008.

After serving as president of the McCormick Garden Club from 2009-11, she became co-director for West Piedmont District from 2011-13. There are seven districts in the Garden Club of South Carolina (GCSC). District directors and co-directors are GCSC board members. She has served in a variety of roles with the GCSC, including first vice president.  This past September she became president-elect; and, in December she ascended to the office of president for the remainder of this term. She is the incoming president for the 2015-17 term.

Yvonne said she’s always had a love for flowers. She recalls that, as a child, while living in Germany, she spent a great deal of time with her grandparents, who had flower gardens and vegetable gardens. Her grandfather grew roses and sunflowers, and her grandmother grew radishes, lettuces, and tomatoes. There were cheery trees and apple trees, and there was “nothing better than fresh-picked cherries!” she said.

When Yvonne grew up in Conway, S.C., her mother grew roses and azaleas. They visited Brookgreen Gardens frequently. When Yvonne was grown and lived in Summerville, S.C., she volunteered for the Middleton Place Foundation for seven years as a garden interpreter.

“That was one of the best experiences I ever had,” she said. “My husband and I have travelled extensively in Canada, the Caribbean, and Europe throughout our 28 years of marriage and, somehow, we always managed to include a visit to a botanical garden.”

Of all the gardens she has visited, she loves Monet’s garden in Giverny, France the most.

“I want to visit the famous gardens of England and still many more in Germany, France, and Italy,” Yvonne said.

She loves gardening so much that she even paints flowers and landscapes. She will be working on painting flowers and native plant scapes from the South Carolina Botanical Garden in Clemson. She also wants to paint some flowering and natural Savannah Lakes Village scapes in the coming years.

As we think about the native landscape in our own back yards, we are grateful for the natural, authentic lands that encompass and surround Savannah Lakes Village, from the Easter red cedar to the Palmetto azalea to centuries-old oak trees to the Southern loblolly pines. There is great beauty in everything we see around the Village.

Yvonne provided a list of resources for those who wish to learn more about native plants and gardening:

South Carolina Native Plant Nurseries:

South Carolina Native Plant Society

Links to other native plant websites:

Clemson University Extension Service

A Guide to the Wildflowers of South Carolina by Richard Dwight Porcher and Douglas Alan Rayner

Bringing Nature Home by Douglas W. Tallamy

Southern Hospitality: A Special Intangible


You can’t buy it. It’s virtually priceless. You certainly can marvel at its wonders, and many people have moved across the country just to experience it.

What is “it?”

Southern hospitality.

Yes ma’am or sir, Savannah Lakes Village is deep in the heart of warm-and-fuzzy country. We’ll welcome you with open arms, offer you seconds – and thirds – and do just about anything to ensure you feel right at home. We are always here to lend a helping hand, and you pretty much know our word is our bond.

“How are you doing?” is not equivalent to “hello” in the South. We really do care how you are doing – and we want to hear about it. We will laugh – or cry – with you, and we are never satisfied until you are.

We asked some Savannah Lakes Village residents for their opinions on Southern hospitality. They were quick to respond with great stories about living in the South, where hospitality is an intangible that’s a real asset for those looking for a place where people’s kindness is as authentic as Grandma’s apple pie recipe.

A person doesn’t have to be born or raised in the South to understand or practice Southern hospitality. After living in California for 30 years, Kay Potter moved to Texas in 1980 and then to Evans, Ga., in 1988. Kay and her husband, Earl, moved to Savannah Lakes Village a year ago.

“I have truly become a Southerner and will never move anywhere else,” she said. “We are friendly, hospitable and caring. I feel Southern hospitality is certainly alive and well in the Village, even though we are from many different states.”

Kay recognizes the widespread volunteerism in the community as just one example of Southern hospitality. The Potters volunteered at the Salvation Army soup kitchen in Augusta.

“It was heartbreaking to see so many people coming in for a meal, but we were blessed beyond measure when we served them,” Kay said.

The Potters also extended their hospitality to a couple in Evans who are parents of 2-year-old triplets.

“A mutual friend told me about them over a year ago, and I immediately told Earl that we needed to help them,” Kay said. “We try to see the kids weekly, and always post their doctor appointments on our calendars. The children are a real blessing to us, and the parents are extremely grateful that we have become part of their family.”

Earl, who is from Americus, Ga., simply defines Southern hospitality as, “Ya’ll come!”

“Well said, my kind and warm Southern husband,” Kay exuded.

Savannah Lakes Village resident Mary Smith grew up in South Carolina.

“I learned early that Southern hospitality is much more than ‘Thank ya’ll’ and ‘Yes ma’am.’” said Mary, who is married to Bruce. “I was lucky to experience kindness with a charitable and hospitable attitude that was given by everyone to everyone. It was just plain expected.

“Humor went right along with patriotism,” Mary continued. “People were not afraid to laugh at themselves – without offense. Life was real. Everyone was ma’am or sir … didn’t matter how old they were. I learned that life is just too short to be rude or unhappy. My grandmother taught me that a smile goes a long way.”

SLV resident Bob Stockton paints a portrait of Southern hospitality through a personal experience at a well-known Southern restaurant in Belton, S.C., called Grits & Groceries. It’s where people “meet and eat,” the owners say. It operates out of an old school house.

Bob said their “food is as good as it gets, and the tendency is to keep ordering and eating, then grab some fresh-baked goodies to take home.”

Bob notes that Grits & Groceries prefers cash; so, unless one prepares, it’s easy to accumulate a total beyond one’s cash-and-carry capability. “If you express this to the cashier, she doesn’t blink an eye,” Bob said. “‘When you get home, just send us a check,’ the cashier says.

“That’s Southern hospitality,” Bob proclaimed.

SLV resident Toni Graham sums up how Southern hospitality goes well beyond respecting others and being down to earth. Toni was born and raised in the South.

“I have known nothing else but Southern hospitality,” Toni said.

When she started visiting McCormick in the 1970s and then moved here in 1992, she felt a particular warmness and casualness to people’s way of relating – and living life.

When her husband died after a difficult illness, she learned how special Southern hospitality can be.

“I really found out what warmth and caring there is in this modest little town,” she said.

When Gloria and Bill Bramble decided to move to South Carolina, they needed to find temporary housing until they built their home in SLV. Gloria called a contact in Ware Shoals, S.C. He said, “Oh, call Jimmy. He will help you.”

“We made the call to this complete stranger who immediately welcomed us to South Carolina, set us up to rent a vacant parsonage, and told us to call him with any questions, needs or concerns,” Gloria continued. “I hung up with a big smile on my face.”

The couple stayed in the parsonage for nine months before moving to Savannah Lakes Village. They recently celebrated their 10th year of living in South Carolina.

“Next week, we’ll be having dinner with Jimmy and his wife, as we do frequently throughout the year,” Gloria said. “They were our first introduction to true Southerners, and we are continually impressed with their kindness and warm Southern hospitality.”

Natoyia Jennings is a server at the River Grille who was raised right here in McCormick. Bartender Charlie Bushmaker lived in Michigan before moving here 2 ½ years ago. Being raised in different places has no bearing on their practice of Southern hospitality.

Charlie said he likes to greet people in a way that will allow them to have a good time. “It’s about treating people as you would like to be treated,” he said.

Natoyia says Southern hospitality is about honoring others, loving people and trying to do the best you can for others.

“It’s about treating people with the same respect I would expect,” she said.

Whether it’s in good times or in bad times, Southern hospitality shines. It’s infectious, too. People who move to SLV from all across the country find themselves practicing the art of extending extra-special kindness to friends and even strangers.

The central focus of our regular blogs is to examine the authenticity of living in Savannah Lakes Village. You can’t get more authentic than Southern hospitality.

Until next time, ya’ll take care. Let us know if you need anything.

Please share our blog with Facebook family and friends.

The Best-Kept Secret? Not for Long!

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The Savannah Lakes lodge grounds.

By Greg Deal
Savannah Lakes Village

Want to hear a secret? Sure you do. We all love secrets.

Why do we love them so much? For some, it’s about knowing someone has told them something that no one else knows. For others, it’s about sharing that secret with another person – then begging that person not to tell anyone else.

We know how that goes. The secret is out.

joeWell, Joe Todd knows a secret, and it’s one you can feel good about sharing. The vice president of land development and new homes for Better Homes & Gardens Executive Partners – which is a development partner with Savannah Lakes Village – channeled his inner Matthew McConaughey to share a story with those who attended the McCormick County Chamber of Commerce Annual Meeting.

McConaughey, playing Mississippi defense lawyer Jake Brigance in the 1996 film “A Time to Kill,” asked in his summation for an all-white jury to close their eyes and listen to a story. Brigance wanted the jury to see something in a new light – and eventually render a favorable verdict for a black man charged with murder. Brigance’s story, with the jury’s eyes closed, allowed them to reimagine things they had taken for granted.

Joe Todd wants people who know about Savannah Lakes Village to reimagine it and not take it for granted. He hopes those who don’t know about SLV will find out a tremendous secret – and share it.

It’s time for this secret to go viral. There’s something unique happening here.

Here is how Joe told the story at the Chamber meeting:

“I want you to think about everything you’ve ever known about Savannah Lakes Village, and I want you to forget it.

“Now I want to ask you to close your eyes.

“I want to tell you a story about a place that’s located on a lake with 72,000 acres that has 1,200 miles of shoreline, approximately 90 miles of interiors roads, and dozens of miles of hiking, biking, kayaking and walking trails.

“I want to tell you about a place that borders three state parks with close to a million visitors a year, has three lakefront golf courses inside and adjacent to community, and a recreation center that includes indoor and outdoor swimming and a tennis facility.

“I also want to tell you about a community that is managed as professionally as anyone I’ve ever been around. This community will also be able to deliver a gigabit of data to every doorstep, which is an exciting and enormous partnership (with WCTEL) in its own regard.

“I want to tell you about a place that is in the process of having a new lodge being built and developed, which will include the opening of a restaurant, the reinvigoration of a convention center, and also the master planning of 150 acres of property adjacent to the peninsula.

“I want to tell you about a place that has new programs that promote healthy living and an outdoor recreation-based lifestyle.

“Now, I want you to open your eyes and realize you’ve all been told about one of the most exciting opportunities in the Southeast.

“You’ve been told a big secret. Now go share the secret.”

Say it IS so, Joe!

Joe and his team form BH&G presented their plan to a full house at the Chamber meeting. Joe says, “Every business is a people business.” While he talked about a lot of statistics and numbers, his primary focus is on working with SLV to plan a path of progression and growth that will allow more people to enjoy a life current residents already experience. In other words, he wants others to know the secret. He and his team are planning small pockets of themed neighborhoods in the community. They also are under contract to purchase the lodge, conference center and restaurant, along with lots within the community.

One of the most exciting aspects is the investment of $15 million by BH&G to tear down the old lodge and build a new 50-unit facility that will serve as part of “stay and play” packages for prospects considering making SLV their home.

For every 100 homes constructed, Joe estimates a $20 million increase in the tax base, which is a major boost for the economy.

“We want to do what’s best for the county – and for the long term,” Joe told Chamber members. “We want a sustainable program that will finish SLV.”

Joe said he wants to see a “bustling and exciting place again.”

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” he said.

And it’s one opportunity people need to know about. You are the messenger.

Share the secret! I promise that no one will call you a tattletale.

Kayaking the Little River Blueway


By Greg Deal
Savannah Lakes Village

Gloria Bramble was kayaking one morning while having breakfast on Lake Thurmond. She noticed what appeared to be Styrofoam on the shore. She paddled closer, not believing someone would throw trash near the pristine shorelines.

What Gloria found, instead, was she had a breakfast companion. It wasn’t Styrofoam, after all. It was a bald eagle enjoying a meal.

“He’s having his breakfast. I’m having mine. It was such a neat experience,” said Gloria, a Savannah Lakes Village resident since 2004. She paddled ever so closer and watched in amazement.

Experiences like this keep Gloria excited about every venture onto the lake and the rivers amid the Little River Blueway Outdoor Adventure Region.

“Every time I go out, there’s something I’ve never experienced before,” Gloria said.

She enjoys paddling the water trails alone – part of an independent nature – but also likes the social aspect of kayaking. She and SLV resident Janie Clark coordinate the annual Kayak Olympics here. Gloria also enjoys moonlight kayaking under the stars.

“There are numerous kinds of opportunities, and they are blanketed by the friendliness of the people,” Gloria said.

Growing up with “city life” in Maryland provided few opportunities for Gloria to experience what the Great Outdoors has to offer. Her first awakening came when she got married. In the early 1970s, she and her husband took a trip to the Colorado mountains.

“I just fell in love with that experience,” she said.

Later, while in Maryland, the couple moved to the suburbs. She made a little walking path so she could enjoy exploring nature. She later discovered Savannah Lakes Village while looking at property on Lake Greenwood. The lady who had never been in a kayak immediately drew inspiration from SLV.

“When I moved here, it (love of outdoors) really blossomed because there were so many opportunities,” she said.

Gloria gets out on the water at least once a week during the spring and summer. She recalls one time paddling back to shore after feeling like she didn’t see anything special. As she got near the boat ramp, she looked over her shoulder and saw a gorgeous rainbow. Nature never ceases to amaze.

Gloria also enjoys biking and other outdoor activities. She fell in love with Savannah Lakes at first glance and has never looked back.

Savannah Lakes Village Residents Tout Annual User Programs

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By Greg Deal
Savannah Lakes Village

Savannah Lakes Village residents enjoy the benefits of the “Unlimited Play, Unlimited Fun!” annual user programs.

“It’s absolutely the best deal for the money anywhere around here,” said Mike Lusby, who, along with wife Marsha, is an annual member of the Recreation Center/Tennis program.

Don Smallwood says price and convenience make the annual golf user program “very attractive.” He likes how daily rates are not part of the equation. “Unlimited play takes that off the table,” said Don, who is married to Dolores.

Unlimited access for golf means you can play in the morning or the afternoon. Green and cart fees are included, along with all SLV-sponsored tournaments and events. There is a $250 personal cart rebate given at the end of the year in an SLV gift card, and users receive a gift card equal to green and cart fees from independent tournaments held at SLV.

Annual membership cost is $250 per month (or $3,000 per year) for unlimited golf.

Don said an annual membership is one way residents can support the golf programs to the best of their abilities. He said the unlimited-play aspect allows him to be more spontaneous about his golfing.

The Smallwoods have lived in SLV for seven years. Don is president of the Men’s Golf Association, while Dolores is coordinator of the Green Tee program, which is for beginning golfers.

“You won’t find nicer courses for the fees we have,” Don said.

Mike and Marsha have lived in SLV for four and a half years. They said they wanted to move south but didn’t want to move to Florida. Both enjoy the benefits of a Recreation Center/Tennis membership. Mike is involved with the Green Netters tennis program, which is for beginners, and Marsha is secretary of the Tennis Committee and is a United States Tennis Association local liaison.

“This is absolutely the best deal going here,” Marsha said. “Look at the amenities you get.”

A Recreation Center annual membership costs $30 per month (or $350 per year). Recreation Center, plus tennis and pickleball, is just $37 a month (or $435 per year).

A membership gives you unlimited use of the pools, fitness room, classes, programs and bocce. House guests are free for pools, lawn games, the pool table and Ping-Pong. With a membership, you have access to all instructor-led classes (water aerobics, land aerobics, yoga, and stretch and tone) and the convenience of key card access for after-hours use.

Marsha’s first love is tennis. She plays four to five days a week. About a month ago, she tried pickleball and said she had a lot of fun. The Lusbys use the fitness room, and Marsha enjoys line dancing classes.

“It (the Recreation Center) is the most important asset we have,” Mike said. “It encompasses everything we have here at the Village, besides golf and dining.”

Commuting Workers Discovering Benefits of ‘Living the Dream’ Today


By Greg Deal
Savannah Lakes Village

The BBC published a story online this week about “super-commuters” – people who choose to trade a long commute to work for a lifestyle that is more in tune with their desires. These commuters might travel to an urban area for their jobs, but they live in places that “give them a lifestyle not achievable within a shorter commute,” the story notes.

People in urban areas might start discovering the benefits of living in a recreation-based lakefront community like Savannah Lakes Village. In a lot of urban areas, people spend up to an hour or more in their cars – stuck in traffic – just to travel from one side of the city to the other to get from home to work and vice-versa.

Why not trade in that hectic commute for a nice, leisurely drive to Savannah Lakes Village after work each day? When you strip away the nightmarish traffic and some of the uninspired living arrangements of everyday urban lifestyle, your life can become more complete. Surely a nice commute is worth the benefits of life on The Freshwater Coast here in Savannah Lakes.

The good news is those with careers don’t have to sacrifice much to achieve their ideal lifestyle. They certainly don’t have to worry about technological connectivity, as the Village offers fiber-optic broadband – for work or for play – to every doorstep. That’s up to 100 mbps of speed that many can use to work from home, if they choose. No issues Skyping with colleagues or conducting a web conference with clients. Also, more people are finding they can work from home, even though their office is a world away. Today’s technology makes that possible.

You’ve probably seen the bumper stickers that say, “I’d rather be fishing!” So, why aren’t you? Why aren’t you boating, jet skiing, kayaking, hiking, biking, golfing, playing tennis and more? Society has tried to tell you that you must wait until retirement before you can live out your dreams. That’s simply not true. More and more people are learning they can live their dreams for most of their lifetime – while not sacrificing their future financial security.

It takes the right mindset to envision the dream. It requires a desire to make it happen.

There is something about living amid nature that is deeply restorative to the soul. You put in a hard day’s work and look forward to the time you’ve earned for yourself or with your family. Many people are discovering that “outdoors” is the new cool. Before DVD players, computers and video games, families spent much of their time outdoors. There is a movement today among those who have grown up around technology – particularly among members of Generation X – to strike a balance between work and home. That balance comes from ensuring the two don’t become so blended together that you can’t remember which is which.

Maybe you know someone who is planning to build that dream home near the lake when he or she retires. Give those folks a gift and tell them they don’t have to wait. It’s amazing how many of us spend our entire lives planning rather than doing. Sometimes we spend our time doing so much planning that, in the end, we’ve simply become an expert planner. Why not become an expert doer?

If you know someone stuck in the grind of an urban lifestyle, share this blog with that person. Share your own story about Savannah Lakes Village and what wonderful things take place right here on the lake.

You can spend your life stuck in traffic – or you can move in a direction that takes you somewhere that cultivates the spirit and rejuvenates the mind.