The Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce partnered with Christus Mother Frances Hospital – Jacksonville to host a first-time Golf Tournament and Golf Ball Drop at Cherokee Ranch Golf Club on Friday.

When the 36th Annual Tomato Fest, originally scheduled for June 13, was rescheduled for Sept. 19 and then canceled altogether due to COVID-19, Chamber President Peggy Renfro decided to put together an event for the community that would come to fruition despite the pandemic.

“It has been something I’ve wanted to do but wasn’t able to plan with so many other chamber programs going on throughout the year. But with Tomato Fest not happening, the discussion of a Chamber Golf Tournament was brought back up and worked out perfectly,” Renfro said.

The event was made possible by title sponsor Christus Mother Frances Hospital – Jacksonville, originally the major sponsor for Tomato Fest.

Christus Administrator Barry Lofquist emphasized the importance of the event for the community.

“Having been raised in a small town, I realize the importance of being actively involved in the local community and giving back whenever and however possible,” he said. “This event helps support the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce, which helps promote and support local businesses, which fuel the continued growth, development and advancement of our community.”

A total of 24 teams entered the tournament for a chance to win a first, second or third-place prize along with a “lame-duck” prize for last place. Several door prizes were also given away, including a 43” television.

Gene Keenon, Republic Services manager of government affairs and municipal services, said he was glad organizations were thinking outside the box to hold events in 2020.

“COVID has put a damper on so many events this year across the country and I am impressed that the decision to do an outdoor event like this is still going on,” he said. “Republic Services supports the Jacksonville community through many different avenues and the Chamber of Commerce is one of our favorites.”

Texas National Bank Lender and golf team player Dillon Rodriguez was excited about being involved in the event.

“This event gives local businesses an opportunity to network with each other and to have a little fun,” Rodriguez said.

Immediately following the tournament was a golf ball drop where more than 600 golf balls were dropped from a helicopter. Numbered balls were $10 each for a chance to win $1,000 for the ball that landed closest to the hole.

Cherokee Ranch Golf Club President Anthony Williams, who organized much of the event at the course, said he was thrilled to partner with the chamber to make the event happen.

“The chamber is such a valuable asset to our community in advertising and promoting we embrace the chance to partner with their team in hosting this event,” he said. “They do so much for the course and other local businesses throughout the year so to have this opportunity gives us a chance to give back.”

The event also included a fish fry and entertainment by Boogie Butt Productions.

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