The Magazine of the American Landowner continues its quest to highlight the country’s finest sporting communities.
It’s been several years since our first visit to the Pine Creek Sporting Club in the heart of Central Florida. At that time, the effects of the global financial crisis were still reverberating across the U.S. as well as around the world. That did little to deter Pine Creek’s developer, Stephen Myers of U.S. Cable fame.
The cable entrepreneur is no newcomer to the great outdoors. In addition to his considerable Florida holdings, Myers also owns the renowned Silver Hilton Steelhead Lodge, which is nestled on the world-renowned Babine River in Northern British Columbia. Whether it be with a rod in his hand or gun to his shoulder, the New Jersey native walks the walk. And that’s how he came across during our discussions in 2010: loud and clear as he articulated his vision for his 2,400-acre Central Florida upland game plantation. His mantra? If you build it right, the right people will come.
By right, Myers meant the right balance of rugged and refined, the right blend of authentic sporting lifestyle and casual country living, the right measure of world-class service and Old Florida tradition. In his mind, Pine Creek needed to be a place where the simpler things stand out. And in a stroke of genius, Myers and his team made Pine Creek accessible at a variety of price points and ownership plans. For those who prefer a turnkey situation, fully furnished Florida cracker-style cabins are available starting at $750,000 and rising into the $1 million-plus range. Looking for a larger piece of property? Then consider buying 40 or 50 acres. Tracts of that size start at roughly $1 million. The less costly ones are ready to build. The more expensive ones are move-in ready, including groceries in the fridge.
And for those who want to supersize it, there’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity available right next door to Pine Creek: the 2,209-acre Castaway Ranch. Currently on the market at $16.8 million, Castaway presents an ideal opportunity for a long-term buyer to develop a big-game plantation or to capitalize on existing upland bird habitat. Better yet, Castaway Ranch also comes with access to the same secret sauce served at Pine Creek: an enticing assortment of services and amenities, including an equestrian barn with plenty of mounts and miles of horseback trails, an outdoor pool and fitness center, and an 11,000-square-foot-lodge that offers fine dining indoors and out, a members’ wine locker, and refreshments at the Covey Bar.
“Pine Creek is run like a five-star country club,” reported CNBC’s Robert Frank in a profile that aired March 30.
“A lot of the families come to Pine Creek that first time thinking it’s just going to be about the hunting,” says Pine Creek’s Membership Director John Reynolds. Along with Stephen Myers; his son, Steve Myers; golf legends Jack Nicklaus and Nick Price; and NFL great Tucker Frederickson, Reynolds is a founding member of Pine Creek Sporting Club. Reynolds has done more than just watch Pine Creek grow; he has played a major role in shaping it.
“Want your refrigerator stocked before you show up? Bringing along a friend who has never shouldered a shotgun and might need a lesson or two? Someone in your crew need a massage after a long travel week? Our 24/7 staff are ready to get it all taken care of — and then some,” Reynolds says.
As trivial as those details may seem, they’ve proved to be a key selling point for Pine Creek’s fast-paced membership. What makes Pine Creek even more appealing is its central location: a little over an hour by car from Palm Beach, Naples, or Orlando, and just over two hours from Miami or Tampa. Many members opt to fly their own helicopters to the club’s helipad or land their aircraft at the nearby Okeechobee County Airport.
“Our families put a priority on spending time together,” Reynolds says. “They’re not interested in the hassles of a time-consuming commute, and they want to hit the ground running as soon as they arrive. That can be as simple as going out bass fishing or taking a spin on a trail bike right when they arrive. Every Saturday, we have a regularly scheduled shooting competition. Wednesday is clay day. And for those who specialize in indoor sports, our wine tastings are on Friday afternoons. You pick the start time.”
The list of on-site activities at Pine Creek is almost endless, from playing bocce or volleyball, getting archery instruction or shooting lessons, bellying up to the Covey Bar, or booking an event in the club’s very own tree house, which was built several stories above the lodge by local artisans using the traditional techniques of the native Seminole. In addition to guided quail, turkey, and wild hog hunts, range facilities include five-stand, sporting clays, rifle and pistol range, trap field, simulated quail flush, and high-tower station. The opportunities for photo safaris are endless, particularly given the more than 400 avian species that flock to Central Florida.
It’s clear that Stephen Myers has achieved his goal of creating memories for himself, his family, and a select group of other like-minded families on a great piece of property, one whose highest and best use just happens to be world-class hunting. Roughly half of Pine Creek’s 2,400 acres is set aside for shooting sports, and that has long- lasting implications.
Considerable care is given to managing the wetlands and enhancing the food plots that fan out from the residential portion of the club, which includes 43 cabins, 24 gentleman’s ranches of 40 acres or more, and facilities such as the lodge, the horse barn, and the club offices. Thousands of acres of grassy terrain spread out in every direction with sprawling motts of live oak, sabal palm, and loblolly pine throughout. As with any potential land investment, neighbors are of immense importance. Not surprisingly, Pine Creek boasts patient neighbors whose priorities mimic those of Myers and his fellow members.
Reynolds hopes that the next owner of Castaway Ranch shares those same values. “It’s such an amazing piece of property, an ideal long-term hold for the patient investor or a multi-generational family.”
A final membership bonus comes courtesy of the Golden Bear’s golf course design team. A state-of-the-art synthetic putting green, involving the design expertise of Nicklaus Design, awaits golfers just steps away from the patio of the ranch-style lodge.
Says Jack Nicklaus, “Steve has a great place at Pine Creek.”