By Dawn Krebs
FORT PIERCE -- Take a championship golf course, add impeccable service, a variety of programs and delicious food and what does one get?
Gator Trace Golf and Country Club, right here in Fort Pierce.
Best of all, the club is semi-public and semi-private, so it, and all it has to offer, is open to everyone and has been since it first opened its doors in 1986.
And that's exactly how the husband and wife management team of Lantie and Cynthia Hughes want it to be.
"When you come to Gator Trace, we want you to be part of our family here," Mr. Hughes said. "We have so much to offer here, and we're active all year around."
Most of the excitement takes place on the par-70 golf course, designed by Arthur Hills and nestled on 250 acres next to the Savannahs Preserve.
"There is a lot of wildlife to be found here while playing," he said.
While there's lot of nature to take in, the course itself was created to keep players at their best, and include water hazards at every hole, along with some challenging areas.
"It's just flat out fun to play here," he said.
To keep the game even more interesting, the club offers a variety of different programs including men and ladies golf days, league play and even couples events. Different memberships for different levels of interest are available.
For those not playing golf, an Olympic-size pool and other activities are available outside to take advantage of the beautiful weather.
Heading inside, the fun continues with selections from a menu that's available for lunch every day from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. There's even breakfast offered on Sundays from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. and dinners every Friday and Saturday night.
"One of our more popular meals is the prime rib and crab leg buffet offered on Saturdays," said Mrs. Hughes. Another buffet features honey-fried chicken and baby-back ribs.
Friday night diners are given a selection from the "Gator Grille" of hamburgers, chicken wings and steak. Afterward, everyone is invited to partake in karoke night.
The country club goes that extra step to keep their customers happy by offering a variety of other events.
For example in February, there will be a dinner dance held with live music from Joe Montepare on Dec. 2, a Superbowl party on Feb. 3, a Valentine's Day party on Feb. 14 and a special performance by Cahal Dunne, an Irish musician on Feb. 26.
And the clubhouse itself is always available for special events such as wedding receptions and reunions. Over the years, it has helped with a number of local fundraisers by providing an elegant place to hold the event.
"We also assist with golf tournament fundraisers throughout the year," he said.
But it's the feeling of being home that keeps people coming back, and Mr. Hughes credits his hard-working, long-time staff for making people feel welcome.
"We're a family here, and we work hard to make everyone that comes in a part of that," he said. "When you come here, you're home."
Gator Trace Golf and Country Club is located at 4302 Gator Trace Drive in Fort Pierce.
For more information, call (772) 464-7442 or go online to www.gatortracecountryclub.com.