Karen Ott Mayer | Photography courtesy of Hernando Golf & Racquet Club
Updated renovations, a new menu, and creative energy have transformed Hernando Golf & Racquet Club into a family friendly destination for dinners and events.
A quiet renaissance has been taking place in Hernando, Mississippi, at a place long-known as Hernando Hills. Just more than a year ago, a pair of investors decided this local 140-acre country club had outlived its previous chapters, and the timing was right to turn a bright, new page into the future.
Opened in 1989, the former Hernando Hills offered members a private golf club with pool and tennis. Despite several ownership changes and dwindling membership over the years, the club managed to survive for more than three decades as a staple in the community. As other clubs in the region have either closed or grown, Hernando Hills simply existed as amenities faded.
Today, however, it’s clear a new concept is in play that matches the vibrant, youthful Hernando community.
“We want to be family friendly. Families are our priority,” says General Manager Buck Matheny. Matheny, a 25-year Professional Golf Association member who spent time managing courses at Tunica National and at Senatobia’s Back Acres, joined the newly-named Hernando Golf and Racquet Club not long after the 2018 acquisition. Since then, a massive renovation has resulted in the construction of a new swimming pool and tennis courts, the complete remodeling of the clubhouse, locker rooms, pro shop, and dining areas. Clean, bright and welcoming, the club now welcomes three times as many members as it did just one year ago.
But the club conversation wouldn’t be complete without checking out what’s on the dining tables and even at the poolside. Eating, especially for families and friends, has taken on a whole new dimension. Feel like dressing up for a white-table cloth night out? Chef Terry Maultsby has built a fine dining menu that gives anyone a reason to don a collared shirt and khakis rather than jeans and flip flops.
On the other end of the spectrum, the mom and dad who prefer to watch their kids in the pool never have to leave their lawn chairs to enjoy lunch.
The fully-stocked bar adjacent to the pro shop feels like the perfect spot to cool off after a hot game of tennis – without the kids. While dining is open to members only and their guests, the new team makes it abundantly clear that anyone interested in a new membership is encouraged to visit and dine. “We definitely want people to come eat and see what’s new,” says Chef Terry.
Faith Maultsby, the chef’s wife, serves as events coordinator and brings more than 20 years of culinary-event experience from Asheville, North Carolina, to Hernando. Her creative energy has resulted in recent happenings that combine community and kitchen. This past year, kids enjoyed ‘Breakfast with Santa’ while moms indulged in their own Mother’s Day brunch. Even non-member teens had the chance to step inside the club during a prom dinner open to the public.
“We really wanted to be a safe, family-friendly place for teens on prom night – even if they weren’t members” she says. For $40 per couple, the prom-goers chose appetizers, entrees and desserts from a set menu.
During the holidays, Hernando Golf & Racquet Club can help lighten the cooking load. Last year, Chef Terry whipped up a list of side dishes and desserts that could serve up to eight.
“He offered a key lime pie that was such a hit we continued it after Thanksgiving,” says Maultsby.
Chef Terry has been in the kitchen for more than 20 years. “I love cooking, especially Creole and Lowcountry cuisine,” he says. “We’re striving to use only the freshest ingredients and maintain a certain high-quality standard. I like to change the menu seasonally.”
Some of the specials include stone-ground grits, blackened grouper, grilled salmon and primal beef cuts like standard filets and ribeyes. “One of our favorites is a pasta dish with blackened chicken, mushrooms and a blue cream cheese sauce,” he says.
Even kids benefit from a full menu that is available all day long. “What kid doesn’t love chicken tenders? Ours are made from sliced breast meat, soaked in a buttermilk marinade, hand bread and fried,” Maultsby adds.
Hernando Golf & Racquet Club holds dear a vision of what it means to gather as a family – without huge expense or stress. Whether it’s a family buffet or board games in the clubhouse, the idea is that parents can relax and socialize as much as the kids. Even single folks will find a home.
“We have a social membership that’s designed for individuals to come out, eat and socialize with their friends,” says co-owner Drew DePriest.
DePriest, owner of All-Star Chevrolet who has lived in north Mississippi for 26 years, believed in the inherent potential of the club despite the large investment. As a parent, he fully understands the challenges of finding relaxing, affordable family time.
“We really believe in the idea of entertaining the whole family. Here, the kids can swim and the parents can enjoy their time with friends, too,” says DePriest. “With so many families traveling for sports or to the coast, it’s nice to find quality, local downtime that’s not so expensive. It’s how we were all raised.”