The Official Newsletter of Bay Creek, Cape Charles, Virginia
October 2020 | Issue 7
In This Issue:
Spotlight on North American Land Trust A Strong Summer Makes Way for an Exciting Autumn Nature Corner: Meet Bay Creek Naturalist Joe Fehrer Capturing the Heart of Bay Creek Living Virtual Tradeshow, Real Connections Bay Creek's Club Committees
There’s a certain beauty in ‘change.’ Our outdoor lifestyle here Bay Creek Soundings is published regularly by Bay Creek. Drop us a line at info@BayCreekLife.com or call toll free 844.620.2900 Or you can always see us at BayCreekLife.com
at Bay Creek is in its truest glory in autumn. From gently changing trees and landscapes to golden sunsets and marsh grasses, Bay Creek, along with our hometown of Cape Charles, is just beginning to don its lovely fall finery. It’s a subtle change—and with our mild seasons, we’re still enjoying one foot in summer with warm sandy beaches and sunny days that were made for outdoor pleasures. Read more inside on next page
Soundings ...continued from cover Some folks may think of fall as the ‘end’ of something, as those sweet summer days become memories. But on the Eastern Shore, early autumn often feels more like the start of a new adventure with crisp mornings, warm days, and breezy evenings perfect for walking barefoot on the beach under that awe-inspiring, star-filled Eastern Shore night sky. We’re specially attuned to our natural
environment here at Bay Creek, perhaps because it’s such an integral part of our daily lifestyle. Our 350-acre Nature Preserve is at the forefront as we forge into fall. In this issue, we’ll introduce you to two professionals from the North American Land Trust who are working with Preserve Communities and AvidTrails to not only maintain this unique environment but enhance it.
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We’re also pleased to introduce Joe Fehrer, Bay Creek’s new Naturalist. Joe, who spent many years working with the Nature Conservancy, will bring the woodlands, waterways and natural areas to life here at Bay Creek, leading hikes, kayak and canoe trips, educational explorations, and more. And that’s just the beginning!
We invite you to embrace the change of seasons and look for the beauty in every moment of it. Fall into your favorite chair, relax, and enjoy our latest edition of the Bay Creek newsletter. ~ The Bay Creek Team
The Making&Keeping of a Nature Preserve SPOTLIGHT ON NORTH AMERICAN LAND TRUST
Bay Creek’s Nature Preserve encompasses woodlands, clear running creeks, glassy ponds, and is naturally populated with hundreds of species of wildlife. It will be traversed by an innovative trail system and will be home to thoughtfully planned activity areas and access points for exploring waterways by kayak or canoe. The Nature Preserve gives Bay Creek residents and guests an incredible glimpse into an amazingly diverse ecosystem.
When Preserve Communities sought to identify and protect this special area, they knew it would ‘take a village’. An integral part of this team of experts is the North American Land Trust (NALT). NALT is a national organization committed to conserving and restoring natural and cultural lands for present and future generations, and that’s just what their work at Bay Creek seeks to accomplish.
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Lauren Gingerella, Wildlife Biologist, and Will Gandy, Biogeographer, both of NALT, have been working diligently behind the scenes and among the trees for more than a year now, identifying plant and animal species and working on plans to optimize the Bay Creek Nature Preserve. “We have been doing biological assessments and inventories of the plant and wildlife species in the Nature Preserve at Bay Creek for over a year now,” says Lauren Gingerella, Wildlife Biologist for NALT. Lauren, an ornithologist, is documenting the birds on Bay Creek as well as other wildlife species. “When I’m here, I cover as much habitat as I can,” Lauren says of her several multi-day site visits. “I observe the open fields, which are great for grassland bird species, the hardwood forests, the shoreline and the salt marsh.” It’s an amazingly diverse area. Equipped with her binoculars, she identifies birds by sight, listens for their calls, and documents her findings. “For some of the species that are more at risk, I’ll play a recording of their song and listen for their response, so I can document their occurrence on the property,” she says. In a short amount of time, Lauren has documented over 80 species of native wildlife, including more than 75 bird species. She uses trail cameras to document species as they travel through the Nature Preserve. Lauren’s work at Bay Creek also includes focus on a conservation management plan. This plan includes transitioning some native areas to more bird-friendly habitat. Simply put, the plan will improve and preserve habitat for the wildlife that utilizes it now and make it an attractive habitat
for at-risk species, too. “We’ll be collaborating with Preserve Communities on the best way to accomplish that,” she says. “This is a spectacular spot,” says Lauren. “Bay Creek falls within an important bird zone. Here on the lower Delmarva peninsula, there’s an estimated 10 million neotropical songbird migrant species that travel through this area on their fall migration—and millions of birds of prey, too.” Lauren’s work out in the field puts her up close and personal with many of the species that call Bay Creek home. “Last fall, out on the property, I looked up and saw about a dozen merlins, which is a falcon species, just cruising on by!” Lauren recalls. “I also saw some bobwhite quail on the edge of the fairway—it was kind of funny to see them on the course, but they are a grassland species so it’s plausible that they’d be out there.” NALT’s work to manage and enhance the Nature Preserve and surrounding areas is beneficial to all types of wildlife populations. The preservation and management of botanical species is an integral part of this as well. Will Gandy is a biogeographer for NALT and has been working within the Bay Creek Nature Preserve since 2019. “I’ve compiled botanical inventories and plant community descriptions. That was the baseline level of work we did initially,” says Will. “Since then, we’ve been actively working with David Brannon and his group at Preserve Communities on conservation management.” NALT was engaged to provide consultation on how to manage or renew the natural areas in the Nature Preserve and the former golf areas to be the best they can be environmentally.
Soundings SPOTLIGHT ON NORTH AMERICAN LAND TRUST continued “We recently looked at some meadow areas that were formerly fairways. Right now, we’re planning what kind of seed mixture will go there. It’s such a hotspot for birds because of the neotropical migratory path that’s here. We’re really excited about what these areas will become,” says Will. Active conservation management for these areas means creating variety, too. “We’re looking for a mosaic of habitat,” explains Will. “Different species are going to occupy different habitats at various times of the year, for different reasons. Tall pines are really good for certain needs while grass habitats and meadows, or shrubby habitats, are good for others,” Will says. “These areas have a chronological factor, too—things are fruiting and going dormant at various times. Animals will use these areas in different seasons for their life cycle.” “Having that mosaic of habitat at Bay Creek is important, and because the peninsula is in the neotropical flyway, it’s even better,” explains Will. It’s a multi-faceted effort. “This means actively managing the forest stands for invasive species, and promoting native species in those forest systems,” explains Will. “It also means looking at the old golf areas and seeing how they can be converted back to the natural environment that would have been there pre-colonization.” These efforts involve choosing specific native plantings. “It’s a careful process,” says Will. “Because of globalization, we have many invasive species and a seed bank from all over the world. So you can’t just let an area ‘go wild.’ We have to actively manage the area and plants to get things back to its native composition,” he adds.
Making the most of the natural areas of Bay Creek is essential. NALT, along with Preserve Communities, is also collaborating with Avid Trails, ensuring the new trail system that will be an engaging, enriching part of the lifestyle of Bay Creek will also be ecologically sound. “I recently spoke with David Brannon and Avid Trails,” says Will. “We’re working together so that all the many
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moving parts fit into the overall plan,” he adds. “…from where the trails are going, to what they’ll be made of, to how they’ll be installed…those are all things that NALT will consult on to make sure it fits ecologically.” Bay Creek occupies a stunningly beautiful piece of the world. But besides its beauty, the land upon which Bay Creek is situated is an ecosystem that is important to the health and survival of an entire region.
depend on these areas –they’re crucial for agriculture, aquaculture, and more here on the Chesapeake Bay. “To be able to add habitat and conserve these areas is essential. They’re not only beautiful but they’re important, too,” adds Will.
“These creeks and waterways that are emptying out into the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean are all tidal creeks. They’re freshwater that mix into the saltwater and flow outward. These tidal creeks’ ecosystems and plant assemblages…and the animals that occupy them… are some of the most important habitats to preserve now,” says Will. “Seawater has been rising for the last 20,000 years and it continues to do so,” remarks Will. “These ‘transition zones’ like the ones found at Bay Creek, which are incredibly diverse with animals and plants, will continue to slowly migrate inward. These valuable areas can be found all along coastal environments and that includes Bay Creek,” he explains. These natural areas act as a buffer. Both wildlife and the local community
In the coming months, Will and Lauren of NALT will continue documentation of species and consultation on best practices for the hundreds of acres that make up the Bay Creek Nature Preserve. Bay Creek and Preserve Communities is pleased to be part of an effort that will benefit both our nature and our neighbors. We appreciate the expertise of the professionals from North American Land Trust and look forward to continuing the important work of enhancing and preserving our greatest natural resources.
Soundings SEPTEMBER 2020 UPDATE:
A Strong Summer Makes Way for an Exciting Palmer Lake Villas: Phase One Construction Continues, Phase Two on the Horizon
the coming weeks as construction continues. And as Phase One is coming out of the ground, Phase Two reservations are now filling up!
Last month’s groundbreaking is behind us, the Phase One Palmer Lake Villas are now beginning construction. “Launching the Palmer Lake Villas has been a big focus for us here at Bay Creek and to see that come to fruition is exciting, ” says Jack Madden, Director of Sales.
“We already have seven reservations for Phase Two of the Palmer Lake Villas,” explains Jack. “Some of these reservations are individuals who are interested in the specific location of the second phase or had different timing needs.”
“The footers and slabs have now been poured on the first two buildings on homesites 9 and 10,” he adds.
“We’re glad to see the excitement carry over for this second phase, and it’s great to see the enthusiasm for this kind of residence here at Bay Creek,” says Jack.
The nine new owners of Palmer Lake Villas within Phase One can look forward to more progress in
The Palmer Lake Villas are nestled along the 12th and 13th holes of the Arnold Palmer Signature Course. Designed and crafted by Beacon Custom Homes, these low-maintenance residences offer high style, elegance and fantastic lake and course views.
Closings, Tours and Activity Continue to Surge September was a busy month for the Sales Team at Bay Creek. Sharing Bay Creek with new visitors is one of our favorite parts of the job and September did not disappoint! It has been
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unbelievably active here, even accounting for the typical pause for Labor Day and back-to-school schedules. Bay Creek property tours continued a healthy pace for September with 21 visits booked, which is more than double that of September 2019. Bay Creek has had 19 closings in September, both developer properties and resales. Almost half of the closings represent developer properties. Which include the recent release of waterfront properties in Plantation Pointe and the last remaining direct beach access bayfront homesites in the current phase of Bayside Village. Many of these closings are attributed to the amazingly busy July and August that we enjoyed here at Bay Creek, touring visitors and guests from a variety of states, and showing them what makes our home so special. We anticipate a busy October and fall season and look forward to the new visitors we’ll get to know as we share our community.
The Belles of the Bay When it comes to inspiring views and incredible Bay access, Bay Creek has many options. Our community offers many ways to be near the Bay, easily access its sandy beaches and enjoy the pristine Bay waters. Among these lovely homes and homesites, we have three properties that elevate ‘by the Bay’ to an entirely new level. Direct Beach Access: three little words that offer countless possibilities for enjoying your own private family haven on the shore. Currently, we have only three bayfront properties that offer this coveted direct beach access. Imagine waking up and simply strolling down to the water, coffee in hand, to watch the seabirds. Make an end-of-day tradition of watching the sky alight with color as the sun sets over the Bay—you'll have a front row seat to what is one of the most spectacular sights on the Eastern Shore! Spend nights stargazing
with your family on the beach after another incredible day on the Bay. From these exceptional homesites, enjoying these waterfront moments with your family is as easy as a walk down your porch steps. These homesite are as rare as they are exceptional—currently, only three direct-beachaccess homesites remain. “These particular homesites will be the last direct-beach-access homes for quite some time here at Bay Creek,” explains Jack Madden, Director of Sales. For those who seek to build a family retreat with an extreme level of bayfront luxury and convenience, these homesites offer an incredible opportunity. Fall is one of our favorite times of year here and we can’t wait to show off our lovely Bay Creek home to all who visit. For those who have just joined us as new owners, and those who own and have now moved into your newly completed Bay Creek residence, welcome home!
We invite you to plan a visit to Bay Creek. Tour inspiring homes and homesites, explore our nature preserves, waterways and interconnected trails, and imagine beautiful days on the Bay at your family’s Bay Creek retreat.
Meet Bay Creek Naturalist JOE FEHRER
One could argue that the woodlands and waterways of Bay Creek are a world unto themselves. Sweeping acres of dense woods, meadows, meandering waterways, sandy beach and shoreline—within the Nature Preserve and beyond—make Bay Creek and the surrounding area a true natural wonderland. This is the world that Bay Creek residents can discover every day. As with any ‘new world’ one sets out to explore, it is immensely helpful to have a knowledgeable (and friendly) guide. Bay Creek is pleased to introduce Joe Fehrer, who will be filling the role of Naturalist for Bay Creek beginning this fall. To say Joe is uniquely qualified for this position is an understatement. He has lived his life deeply connected to the natural world and has a passion for sharing it with others. A native of Maryland’s Eastern Shore, Joe spent his childhood canoeing on the Pocomoke River, Nassawango Creek and coastal bays. His love of nature came quite naturally, as the eldest son of Joe and Ilia Fehrer, Worcester County’s first environmental advocates. Joe began his career running a research vessel for a consortium of colleges and universities working in oceanography, marine biology and fisheries. He also enjoyed a more than two-decades long career in the field of historic restoration and custom woodworking. Transitioning to a full-time role with The Nature Conservancy in 2006, he
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focused on land management, climate change, sea level rise, community outreach and renewable energy policy. Now he sets out on another trail in his impressive career, bringing his expertise, love of nature and volumes of knowledge to Bay Creek as our community’s Naturalist.
“I've been participating with a Chesapeake Bay focused educational non-profit (UpStream Alliance) in an effort to introduce this region and it's unique character to others. It's a great group of friends I’ve developed over many years,” explains Joe. “We do multi-day kayak and camping trips–and we always try to bring along someone new.”
Joe believes establishing the ‘emotional Joe Fehrer has spent decades studying, exploring connection’ to nature is important, for all ages. and sharing nature. We shared a little time with “Engaging young people and getting them him this month to talk more about his new role outside helps them find that appreciation for the and what Bay Creek residents can look forward to. outdoors that many of us have,” he says. “I have led hundreds of trips over the last 40 plus years— “The word ‘naturalist has a lot of different kayaking, canoeing and walking tours. Trips like connotations for people,” says Joe. “I view myself these instill that sense of place, and it
"The whole point is to get people outside, to let them see, understand and enjoy the natural world in ways they hadn't really thought about."
and what I do as a ‘field naturalist.’ I don’t focus specifically on one area…I have a wide range of interests regarding the outdoors.”
helps people understand why these places are important to protect.” Joe’s work as Bay Creek Naturalist is a natural next step in his mission.
Joe recognizes the importance of nature in the history we share here on the Eastern Shore. “I like to weave the natural history and cultural history “I look at Bay Creek and there are so many narrative of the area together,” he says. possibilities here for outdoor education and getting people outside to learn about the natural Joe loves helping others experience the world,” Joe explains. “David Brannon of Preserve significance and joy of the great outdoors. “I’m Communities has done a great job working with passionate about outdoor education,” he explains. contractors to design and build a trail system When it comes to caring for the world we inhabit, that’s amenable to many different types of people,” “sharing an appreciation for nature is key,” says Joe. he says, “and that’s so important.”
Bay Creek Naturalist
JOE FEHRER continued
An experienced tour and trail guide, Joe knows not everyone considers themselves the ‘outdoorsy’ type. But anyone can enjoy being among the stunning landscape, flora and fauna of Bay Creek. He acknowledges the appeal of the groomed, well-marked trail, especially for those who want to enjoy the natural landscape but aren’t interested in ‘cutting their own trail’ through uncharted territory.
about. “I will help contextualize that experience on the Bay Creek property and the larger region, too,” he says. What does that look like for a resident of Bay Creek? Glorious moments out in nature, with friends and family, with an experienced and engaging guide. It’s hiking, walking, canoeing, kayaking, and learning about the world around
“To get people excited and to begin to truly care about nature, they have to know it. You can’t make that connection by looking at a brochure or magazine. You have to really get out there to understand it.”
“The whole point is to get people outside, to let them see, understand and enjoy the natural world in ways they hadn’t really thought about,” he smiles. When it comes to feeling the magnificence of nature, Joe says there’s really no substitute for ‘being there.’ The natural habitats of Bay Creek are one of the community’s most important resources. “To get people excited and to begin to truly care about nature, they have to know it. You can’t make that connection by looking at a brochure or magazine. You have to really get out there to understand it,” Joe explains. Helping people access and appreciate the nature around them is what Joe’s role at Bay Creek is all
you. On foot or on the water, Bay Creek residents and guests will have a beautiful natural world opened up for them. “I’ve spent most of my lifetime in a boat of one sort or another,” says Joe. “One of my goals is to map the water trails in such a way that they can be used for educational outreach. The ponds on the property are excellent, too, for teaching people how to canoe or kayak. It’s ideal for those who may have wanted to do that but have never learned.” Joe’s enthusiasm is contagious and his knowledge about the property is ever-expanding. “I’ve lived here in Cape Charles for 10 years and I’m very familiar with the area and Plantation Creek,” he says. “But I’m looking forward to
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spending a lot of time on the property to get to know its living resources even better. I’ll be identifying trees, shrubs, the wildlife, and getting a feel for every part of it.” Joe is also working alongside David Brannon and others to help with the resource assessment, management of land plans, and trail layouts in our naturally diverse community. “There’s such a nice suite of habitats within Bay Creek, from the sand beach to the intertidal zone, to the tidal marsh, upland, areas of forest…and ultimately, as the grounds are restored, you’ll have meadows,” he says. “There are so many different habitat types here. There’s always going to be something going on that folks can enjoy seeing, whether it’s bird watching, enjoying the restored meadows and native wildflowers, fishing the ponds or on the Creek, or a quiet walk along the Bay shore.” And Joe is ready to help people enjoy every bit of it! His first bit of advice? “Come take a look!” he laughs. “I’m developing a full list of walks and paddle trips for Bay Creek. The fall and early winter are great times to be outside. There’s much to be learned out in nature—you may be surprised!” Joe looks forward to sharing the beauty of every season on the Eastern Shore. “Let’s take a walking tour of the beach. At the end of the trip, you’ll have learned something about the beach you enjoyed as a bathing beach, but you’ll also learn about the beach in the winter, which is a completely different place with a beauty all its own.”
Headed into October, Joe offers advice to those who want to enjoy the Eastern Shore: “Fall is a spectacular time to be out on the water!” says Joe. “Birding is excellent here throughout the fall and into the winter. We have a large migration of neo-tropical songbirds, hawks, shorebirds and waterfowl that funnel down the peninsula, it’s really incredible." “Fishing this time of year is great—folks are out fishing for rock (striped bass) or speckle trout on the bay or up these creeks,” he says. “And explore what’s in your backyard! Just get out and take in the panoramic views of the Chesapeake Bay and across Plantation Creek,” he suggests. “If you need to ‘recharge’ or put the day to day out of mind for a little while, even if you just sit on a bench outside and let your mind wander, it’s a great thing. It’s healthy—it’s a proven fact,” smiles Joe. The team at Bay Creek is excited to welcome Joe as our community Naturalist this fall. We look forward to the big, beautiful outdoor adventure that awaits!
In Recognition: Joe was recently presented the USCG’s Distinguished Public Service Award (their highest civilian honor) for leading a workgroup that developed a “geographically specific” response guide for oil and hazardous material spill response on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. This project, the first of its kind nationally was done in collaboration with, and at the request of the CG SEC. VA, NOAA, Virginia DEQ, VIMS and other local partners.
Capturing the Heart OF BAY CREEK LIVING
There’s something very special about Bay Creek—neighbors, natural beauty and a spirit of celebration. Perhaps it’s because Bay Creek is where families reconnect, recharge and enjoy the simple pleasures of life alongside the magnificent Chesapeake Bay. It’s the kind of feeling that can be difficult to put it into words.
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Recently, we had a major new photo and video shoot here at Bay Creek, to capture those simple joys and the incredible scenes we enjoy here every day. Bay Creek is far more than a single ‘amenity,’ Club, pastime or homesite. It’s the sum of all of these things and much more. These compelling new images focus on Bay Creek’s multi-generational activities, healthy outdoor pursuits, life on the water, and active, authentic Eastern Shore living. Take a look at just a few of the moments we captured in the new Bay Creek photoshoot. If you haven’t yet enjoyed the kind of memorable Eastern Shore moments you’re seeing here, we invite you to visit Bay Creek and discover a picture-perfect haven for your family.
Virtual Tradeshow,Real Connections BAY CREEK ATTENDS THE FIRST-EVER IDEAL-LIVING VIRTUAL RESORT & RETIREMENT SHOW
When it comes to meeting new people and attracting future residents, we’re fortunate here at Bay Creek. We have always had great interest in our one-of-a-kind waterfront community on Virginia’s Cape, and that interest has grown exponentially in the last year.
Kelly Godbey, Associate Publisher for idealLIVING, the producers of the shows, says their team was up for the challenge. “For over 30 years, ideal-LIVING has produced live events to help buyers find their ideal destination, life, and home by meeting face-toface with real estate developers,” Kelly says. “No longer able to host in-person events due to COVID-19 restrictions, we quickly switched directions to create the first-ever ideal-LIVING VIRTUAL Resort & Retirement Shows this fall. The homeowner demand for the virtual event has been phenomenal, generating more pre-registration than for the live events.” This year, attendees were able to explore a dynamic digitally produced tradeshow ‘ballroom’ and navigate from one community exhibit to another. Our Bay Creek team was on hand to personally interact with each person who visited our booth, and answer questions in real time.
But with 2020 being a year like no other, the traditional ideal-LIVING Resort & Retirement show circuit we’ve always enjoyed was sure to be different. There are the typical thousands of attendees, the hand shaking, the laughter, the new friends, and the old familiar camaraderie. How do we do that Kelly Godbey says attendees were very receptive. in our current reality? “We were so excited to be able to offer this VIRTUAL option to homebuyers looking to
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relocate as well as for the developers we've been serving for over three decades,” explains Kelly. “The transition to virtual has been a lot of hard work, but we are thrilled to create a whole new option for builders, developers, and homebuyers,” she says. For our part, the new, digital format allowed us to show guests the Bay Creek lifestyle—our familyoriented amenities, Nature Preserve, the upcoming Beach Club and of course the homes, villas and properties available here. We shared what it’s like to live here on the Eastern Shore, and the charm of our hometown of Cape Charles.
Was it great being present at the first-ever virtual Resort and Retirement show? Absolutely! Do we miss meeting new friends and potential new neighbors in person? Oh, yes. Our Bay Creek family thrives on community. And while we couldn’t meet everyone in person, we are looking forward to following up with the hundreds of people who expressed interest in our Bayfront home. Maybe we’ll see you at the next ideal-LIVING virtual show!
Enjoying the Experience to the Fullest BAY CREEK’S CLUB COMMITTEES ARE HERE FOR YOU
Bay Creek is an incredible place to call home. With hundreds of acres of stunning natural landscape, the beach and Bay, waterways and nature trails that wind among the Nature Preserve, meticulously landscaped spaces and gracious homes, what’s not to love?
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Dovetailing beautifully with this dynamic blend of pristine nature and elegant living is the Bay Creek Club experience. Membership at Bay Creek, of course, has its privileges: exceptional golf by Nicklaus and Palmer, a state-of-the-art fitness facility, the beach, racquet sports, and resort facilities. But there’s more to the Membership than just the activities and facilities that members enjoy. Behind the scenes are committees of dedicated volunteers whose mission is to ensure that Club membership runs smoothly—from tracking the condition of facilities and the golf courses, to quickly and effectively handling members’
questions, concerns and suggestions. Team members of Bay Creek as well as Preserve Communities take an active role in providing answers and action based on the feedback and inquiries these committees receive from members. This month, we’re sharing a little about these committees: The Greens Committee, Golf Committee, and Membership Committee. These groups are made up of individuals whose dedication to their fellow members and the community help make Bay Creek’s Club experience truly exceptional.
The Greens Committee Bob Kraly, Chair The Greens Committee is chiefly concerned with playability, health and general condition of the golf courses. “We are basically an extra set of eyes for the conditions of the course,” says Bob Kraly, chair of the Greens Committee. “We usually meet once a quarter with Joe Burbee, Director of Golf, Zach Pfingst, Golf Pro, and Mike Smith, Golf Course Superintendent. We ride the course and review the conditions,” says Bob. “We typically have a prepared list of items we’d like to see improved, and review items that are a priority as we travel the course.” “We may notice that rocks (or other aesthetics issues) are out of place on a particular hole, for example. So, we’ll put that issue on our list. Though some of the items are minor, it is important to maintain perfection as best as we can for our members and guests. At the start of the year, we begin with a list of major items—
fixing the cart paths, repairing bunkers, adding sand to bunkers, to name a few. These items are then prioritized, and put in the maintenance schedule,” says Bob. When maintaining a golf course, it isn’t just the condition of the course that matters, but also the stewardship of those who play it. “Because we’re private, and the majority of the rounds being played at Bay Creek are by our members,” says Bob, “it’s important that we all take responsibility for taking care of our home.”
Soundings BAY CREEK CLUB COMMITTEES continued “The greens are the most valuable, precious aspect of a golf course. There are unwritten rules we need to abide by as golfers and members to take care of our courses. The Greens Committee communicates with the membership, sending reminders about things like fixing ball marks, for example.”
making sure that the grass is cut really tight by the practice facility, by the practice green and the coach house. That entire area should be top notch, nice and tight,” he says.
It isn’t just the committee that can bring up issues related to the course, however. “If a member sees something of concern, they can send Joe an email directly. He then sends that to the Greens Committee to review,” says Bob. It’s about the health and the playability of the course, which in turn, results in a positive member experience. To this end, the professionals who regularly maintain the course are key.
Whether it’s the beauty of the course, the condition of the greens or course etiquette, the Greens Committee takes their responsibilities seriously.
“The people who are maintaining the course are doing a great job. I have a lot of respect for Mike Smith and his crew. In the past, they did a great job with machinery that was less than ideal. Now, thanks to Preserve Communities, Mike and his team have new machinery to make them more efficient and they do an even better job. The end result is we’re getting a better course condition and a better playing experience.” Bob has a discerning eye for the condition of the course and surrounding areas. “I’m big on
What makes the Greens Committee’s efforts effective is the responsiveness of Joe, Zach and Mike in handling issues. It doesn’t have to be just a playability issue to be addressed. It can simply be beautification or something that the committee believes will enhance the experience: “Where the road crosses over from 10 Palmer to 11, there were a lot of pine cones. We wanted to make that area look nicer, so we spoke with Joe and it was quickly was taken care of,” recalls Bob. Whether it’s the beauty of the course, the condition of the greens or course etiquette, the Greens Committee takes their responsibilities seriously. As Bay Creek Club members and as golfers, Greens Committee members act as stewards of Bay Creek’s golf—entrusted with keeping the courses and the overall experience in top form.
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“At the end of the day, Bay Creek is a special place. The willingness and dedication of the staff is a top “For example, we recently had some questions priority to improving all aspects of the club. As from members about golf. We were able to share members, we should be thankful for where we are those directly with Joe Burbee, Bay Creek’s headed”, says Bob. Director of Golf, and he took action.” “I appreciate how much people reach out to us, and how Bay Creek reaches back to us for input, too,” Bob Kraly chairs the Greens Committee and has been a says Avis. “Before Bay Creek sends out notices or Club member since 2004. He lives in Virginia Beach information, they often run it by the Membership and has a second home here in The Fairways. Bob’s firm, Committee for our thoughts, so the message Image Business Interiors, created the beautiful interior addresses the membership more effectively.” design of the lounge at Bay Creek’s Life Center. Bob is an avid golfer and spends most weekends here with his The Membership Committee also works to wife and his son, Ty. Ty is a serious baseball player, and promote membership in the Club. “We welcome Bob’s father was a member of the World Series New York new members, as well,” says Avis. “We’ve Yankees baseball team in 1953. Bay Creek is grateful to had huge growth in membership with the Bob for his time, expertise, and support in service to his Membership Drive this year.” fellow Bay Creek golfers, the Club, and its membership.
The Membership Committee Avis Gates, Chair “I absolutely love Bay Creek so anything I can do, I enjoy it,” says Avis, of her role as Chair of the Membership Committee. “We are a Membership Committee for the Club, so we serve the overall interest of everyone. Our committee does cover golf, but it also includes the fitness center, the beach, the trails...we take members’ questions and concerns and get answers for them,” she explains. “There are seven of us on this committee. Members can reach out to us directly with questions, concerns and positive feedback about the Club. Many of these can be handled very easily by a committee such as ours,” she says.
With residents of more populated areas seeking a retreat from crowds recently, many new people have discovered Bay Creek and all it has to offer. “That introduced a lot of people to the property,” says Avis. “Bay Creek is ideal—it’s a place that isn’t
Soundings BAY CREEK CLUB COMMITTEES continued crowded, and it’s phenomenal as far as beauty and opportunities. It’s wonderful to see the growth and all the support we’re getting. It’s a great place.” What would Avis like current and future Club members to know about the Membership Committee? “Know that you have the full support of this committee, and the Greens Committee and Golf Committee, as well,” she says. “We are made up of a variety of ages and backgrounds. We have a wide base of knowledge—from legalities, to intricacies of the Eastern Shore area, and more.” Best of all, says Avis, “We share a lot of love and concern not just for Bay Creek, but the Eastern Shore, too.”
Avis Gates chairs the Membership Committee and is a longtime member of Bay Creek. She now lives in The Fairways full time with her husband Rusty, who is also an avid golfer. She and Rusty lived in Powhatan for many years and retired here full time recently. Avis is also the President of the Ladies League here at Bay Creek and has done much to increase participation among the ladies. Bay Creek wishes to thank Avis for her time and talent in service to the Club and its members.
The Golf Committee Ron Wrucke, Chair Chair of the Golf Committee for over 10 years, Ron Wrucke has helped make Bay Creek golf the
best it can be. The Golf Committee meets two to three times a year to forward their mission of ensuring course condition as it relates to playability, scheduling, pace of play, and event and tournament schedule. “Both Joe Burbee and Zach Pfingst participate in our meetings,” says Ron. “We cover a lot. One of the things we do is review the current tournament schedule and we look at what changes we’d recommend for the next year.” Now, because the course is private, Many of the previous public tournaments are not held at Bay Creek. “Bay Creek was trying to introduce new social golf events to the calendar this year,” says Ron. As many social events are on hold for the time being, the Golf Committee will consider future events when it is allowed. Typically, Joe comes up with new events and the committee offers guidance. Most recently, Bay Creek hosted a fun ‘Fourth of July Night Putting Contest” where holes were lined with glowing, neon-style lighting, and the club is again coordinating Couples Golf Scrambles on Sundays. The Golf Committee plays a crucial role in evaluating scheduling and pace of play. “With 27 holes, we now have three different combos for play,” explains Ron. “Players can do the Palmer Course front and back, the Palmer back/ Nicklaus front combo, or the Nicklaus front/ Palmer front,” he says. The variety is great but it does require precise scheduling. The Golf Committee’s members have evaluated the length of playing each course combination so that tee times can be scheduled and staggered for optimum player experience. “There can be issues with some golfers playing
October 2020 | Issue 7
faster than others,” says Ron. “For example, we noticed when a group playing one combo was making the turn, they’d meet another group teeing off. Adjustments to the scheduling were required to minimize that. Rules regarding group priority were also established.” The Golf Committee’s concern with player experience also extend to issues like accessing drinking water. “Since we don’t have coolers in golf carts, we wanted to make sure we had water on the course,” says Ron. “The club now provides access to chilled bottled water at the Practice Range for all golfers.” “We’re also concerned with the course—things like drainage, and course condition,” Ron says. “Accommodating walkers is important, too,” he adds. “Numerous walking paths have been added between greens and the next t-box to facilitate shorter access routes.” Common issues also come up that, when examined, can have an easy fix. Members of the committee were aware that the rough in the late Summer was tall enough that players were having trouble finding their golf balls. “The time spent looking for balls became a pace of play issue,” explains Ron. “We requested lower cuts so the rough was more playable. We also implemented a lower cut, five to six feet in width, around the green,” he says, “which rewards good shots and helps tremendously with pace of play.”
The Committee handles handicapping issues, too. “The USGA has guidance for handicap ratings but it’s not always exactly right for your course,” says Ron. “Joe Burbee has the USGA model results, which is then reviewed on a hole by hole basis. We essentially conduct this review annually,” he adds. The committee’s goal is for everyone to be able to enjoy playing on a fair and equal basis. “We work to make sure the course is enjoyable for everyone and that the handicapping, pace of play, tee times and general course condition are as they should be,” says Ron.
Ron and his wife, Sherry, retired to Bay Creek from New Jersey. They live in The Signature Village and they both enjoy golf. Ron has a keen eye for photography and has taken many beautiful photos of the nature and wildlife of Bay Creek. Ron and Sherry have two adult daughters who live nearby. Bay Creek is thankful to Ron for his long tenure as golf chair and for the great amount of time and support he offers to help make Bay Creek a great place to live.
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