Golf course communities: It’s not just about golf

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By Elsa Bonstein, Golf Gab

Our golf course communities are not just about golf. Dozens of widely different activities besides golf take place annually, monthly, weekly and even daily.
Groups assemble for bridge, poker, mahjong and bingo. Many communities have fitness centers with regular exercise classes and those centers with pools often have water aerobics.
If you like quilting, oil painting, reading, writing or cooking, you can find groups that share your interest. Travel clubs abound, scheduling everything from a cruise to the Bahamas to a walking tour in the South of France. Those who like music can belong to a chorus, a barbershop quartet, a band or an amateur theater group.
All of our golf course communities, from St. James to Magnolia Greens to Lockwood Folly to Ocean Ridge to Brunswick Plantation and in between, have myriad activities for their residents.
One of the most hilarious fun-loving groups is the volleyball club at Rivers Edge. They call themselves “Living on the Edge” and recently had logoed shirts made up for all the members: blue for the guys and hot pink for the gals. Between 14 to 18 folks participate each week.
They meet at 5:45 p.m. every Tuesday at the Ocean Isle Beach Community Center at 44 W. First St. on Ocean Isle Beach. Play commences on the permanent volleyball court at 6 p.m. and lasts one hour.
I attended one of their games and had a blast. These folks know how to have a good time.
“This is a great activity because it mixes up the all the groups, golfers and non-golfers,” said Terry Sinay, one of the group’s ad hoc organizers. “People bring drinks and snacks, and then when the game is over, we all have dinner together. Each week, a different person is in charge of dinner arrangements. We’re usually home by 9 to rest.” He laughed.  
“Those who have house guests can bring them along,” he explained. “If their guests are young and strong, we split them up so all the strength is not on one team. We don’t have a lot of hard and fast rules; the main thing is to have fun. We mark out the out-of-bounds with yellow rope, of course, but each team can hit the ball as many times as they need to get it over the net. And, each person can hit the ball more than once time in succession.”
“Basically, we try to keep the ball in the air as long as possible,” said Rose Ann Sinay, Terry’s wife. “I play each week even though I’ve had two knee replacements. The soft sand makes all the difference. I could not play on any other surface.”
Score is kept but there are no trophies or prizes, just bragging rights over dinner. A lot of bantering goes along with the game and everyone obviously tries hard to “keep the ball in the air” and to send it back over the net for a score. I saw folks lunging and jumping desperately trying to reach the ball. I saw some spikes and some great serves and a few crashes into the soft sand.
The teams switch sides periodically, an essential maneuver because of the windy conditions on the beach.
Throughout the evening, I heard a lot of laughter.   
“Our volleyball games are an orthopedist’s delight,” Steve DeRose said.
“Basically, it’s a good night when there are no 911 calls,” countered Kevin Wenthen.         
Paula Micale, a regular in the group now, said playing volleyball helped her get integrated into the community.
“We’d been here for a few months and knew some people,” she said, “but when we got into the volleyball, we made more friends. Recently, we were all out at dinner and someone thought we should we get official shirts for the group. Several names and logos were suggested, but Living on the Edge won out because it best reflected the young-at-heart attitude of the group.”
Rivers Edge volleyball began in August 2012.
“We played until December last year and then it finally got too cold,” Terry Sinay said. “We started back in April and we’ll play again as long as we can stand the weather.”
Nick and Paula Micale have been a part of the group since its inception.
“We really enjoy it,” Nick Micale said. “It brings a lot of people together. Last week, when we showed up, there were four high school age kids already playing volleyball on the court. We told them what we were all about and they joined us. We had a great time and I think they did too, playing with some folks that are old enough to be their grandparents. It energized the whole group.”
The group is fluid. From one week to the next, different folks show up to play. It’s not like a bowling league where you must show up each week.
“Some of our players go away for the summer, others bring visiting family,” Nick Micale said. “When I had rotator cuff surgery last year, my wife played each week and I came along and kept score.”
Recently, with the summer crowds on the island, the volleyball group often gets take-out food and eats right on the beach.
 “In the fall and the spring, the restaurants welcomed us, but now most of them are crowded and cannot host a big table for 14 or 18 people. It’s easier to get pizza or subs or chicken and eat it right here on the beach,” Nick Micale said.  
Playing volleyball with good friends, eating dinner on the beach or at a restaurant on the beach. It doesn’t get any better than that.  
The volleyball court at the Ocean Isle Beach Community Center is available on a first come, first served basis. The community center itself can be reserved for private functions. There is a fee structure depending on the time of year. Public bathrooms are in the building and they are open from 9 a.m. until sunset from May to October.  
For more information, check out The Ocean Isle Beach Community Center by going to www.oibgov.com. Call (910) 579-2166 for reservations.  

Golf Gab groaner
An elderly woman was sipping a glass of wine while sitting on the patio with her husband.
“I love you so much. I don’t know how I could ever live without you,” she said.
“Is that you or the wine talking?” he asked.
She answers, “It’s me…talking to the wine.”  
(Submitted by Florida resident Mary Lou Montanari.)

Elsa Bonstein is a golf columnist for the Beacon. Reach her at elanbon@atmc.net. Follow her at facebook.com/elsa.bonstein.