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Ocean Ridge Plantation: It’s not just golf

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By Elsa Bonstein, Golf Gab

Contrary to popular belief, golf course communities are not just about golf. I’ve heard people say, “Why would I want to live on a golf course? I don’t play golf!”
Wrong, wrong, wrong.
All of our golf course communities, from St. James in the north to Brunswick Plantation on the south, are bustling with dozens of activities that have nothing to do with golf.
To illustrate this point, I decided to focus on one of our older, established golf course communities: Ocean Ridge Plantation. I spoke with Gail Miller (property owner liaison) and with several residents to get the skinny on just what goes on daily, monthly, weekly and annually.
Ocean Ridge has four courses (Lion’s Paw, Tiger’s Eye, Panther’s Run, Leopard’s Chase) with a fifth in the works. The new one is Jaguar’s Lair and is a reworking of the old Angels Trace 36 holes by renowned golf course architect, Tim Cate. The opening is not yet scheduled.
As I spoke with management and residents, I was awed by the myriad activities at Ocean Ridge. You could be busy every day and every night of the week and never touch a golf club.
Gail is vivacious and well-spoken. She has been at Ocean Ridge for five years.  
“Ocean Ridge does a good job of communicating with the residents about all that’s going on,” she said. “We have a very active property owners’ website that includes calendars and lists of activities. You need at least 10 people to become an official group and right now we have about 45 groups that do everything from playing mahjongg to making dolls for hospice patients.”
I looked over the list Gail provided and was astonished. There were groups for Bible study, library support, quilting, scrapbooking and gardening. Seven groups play bridge, one group does mahjongg, another plays bunco. Those interested in regular exercise and sports could bowl, kayak, play billiards, pitch horseshoes or participate in various exercise classes.  
“We had a group of people who were interested in history and they started their own history discussion group,” Gail said.
Michelle Sherwood has lived at Ocean Ridge for 10 years. She is an active golfer and she sings with the Ocean Ridge Singers.
“The people here are friendly and love to help each other,” she said. “Many of our residents volunteer in our schools, hospitals and nursing homes. A lot of our golfers work with kids from The First Tee. Some residents are still working, others are retired, but most of them want to give back to the community.”
One big communitywide activity is the annual Christmas-in-July event. The names of children in need are placed on a Christmas tree in the Plantation Club. Each name comes with a list of items the child needs for the start of school that year. The names are supplied by the schools; residents pick up the lists and buy the needed supplies.
Howard Ray is the director of the Ocean Ridge Singers, a chorus that practices weekly and performs two concerts each year. Before retirement, Ray was an electrical engineer.
“I always loved music and now I have the opportunity to direct the Ocean Ridge Singers,” he said. “Years ago, while living in Albuquerque, New Mexico, I joined their local civic chorus. It was great group of talented singers; many had performed with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Over the years I sang with several choruses and church choirs. I even directed a talent show for the Jaycees in Utica when I worked for GE there.”
Howard moved to Ocean Ridge in 1998 and the Ocean Ridge Singers had their first rehearsal in October of 1999.
“We currently have 63 people signed up with a support staff of eight,” he said. “We practice every Monday at 7 p.m. at the Plantation Club (resident’s clubhouse). We start rehearsals for our Christmas concert on September 17. In February, we start rehearsing for our spring concert.”
Howard’s wife, Ruth, is the accompanist for the Ocean Ridge Singers.
Besides these formal groups, there’s a wealth of informal activities taking place each day at Ocean Ridge, according to Doug MacDonald, the president of the board of directors of the Ocean Ridge Master Association.
“Besides all the organized groups and clubs that meet regularly, there are additional activities that are spontaneous and not officially listed,” he said. “A few couples will meet regularly to play golf, then go out to dinner afterwards. We have a progressive dinner group called the Meandering Munchers and a group called the Out to Lunch Bunch, but we also have several ad hoc groups that meet regularly to eat together. Other folks gather regularly to walk the beach.”
The Plantation Gardens at Ocean Ridge are popular. This is a working farm with an old restored farmhouse. Participants in that group grow tomatoes, lettuces, carrots, eggplants, peppers and radishes and herbs. In addition, individual residents can rent private plots in the gardens for their own use.  
Many of the formal and informal activities at Ocean Ridge take place in the Plantation Club, which has tennis courts, indoor and outdoor heated pools, lounges and a fitness center. Still other activities take place at the Beach Club, on the waterfront at Sunset Beach. Both facilities are available only to Ocean Ridge residents and space may be reserved for special groups or family gatherings.
I wandered down to Sunset Beach to check out the Beach Club and met Martha Sue Ludman and Ruth Powers. They had just arrived for their weekend walk on the beach.
“We both meet regularly to walk here,” Martha Sue explained. “Our husbands are golfers and they are playing right now, but we’re more interested in the beach. Sometimes we meet them for dinner afterwards.”
“The Beach Club is great for Ocean Ridge families, especially those with grandchildren,” Ruth said. “They can bring the young children here for a while when it gets really hot on the beach. We have showers and bathrooms, a small kitchen and a lounge area with big screen TV.”
On any given day at Ocean Ridge, dozens of activities take place. At the Plantation Club, folks will be playing duplicate bridge, bunco or mahjongg, they may be doing Pilates, water aerobics, knitting or talking about history. They may be enjoying a post-walk pizza at the Beach Club. They may be meeting at someone’s home to try out a new Southern Living recipe.  
So, don’t worry if you don’t play golf. There are lots of things to do at our golf course communities.
You won’t be bored.
Golf Gab groaner
Anthony, an avid golfer, saved and save his money for a trip to St. Andrews, Scotland, to play the famous Old Course. Before the trip, he bought a new outfit and new clubs and new golf balls.
Finally, the big day arrived and he stood on the first tee at the venerable course.
Anthony approached the ball, gripped his club, took a practice swing, then looked down the fairway.
Concentrating mightily, he took a deep, cleaning breath, pulled his club back, swung and missed the ball by 2 inches.
His caddie leaned forward and whispered. “Your course in the USA must be about 2 inches higher than our course.”
Elsa Bonstein is a golf columnist for The Beacon. Reach her at elanbon@atmc.net. Follow her at facebook.com/elsa.bonstein.