CRESTVIEW — A resident’s criticism of the Crestview Area Chamber of Commerce’s decision to schedule a Mossy Head golfing event is “much ado about nothing,” a chamber spokesperson said.
The annual Hacker's Holiday golf tournament — which reportedly raises around $6,000 annually for the chamber’s general fund — is May 25 at Blackstone Golf Course in Mossy Head. Kim Sulipeck thinks it should be here at Foxwood County Club.
She contended in an email that the chamber compromises its mission statement — which, she said, involves exclusively supporting Crestview area businesses and organizations — by having the event in Walton County.
"It's giving the city a black eye," she said. "I can't understand why they would do this."
But the chamber doesn’t single out Crestview as the lone community that it supports, said County Commissioner Wayne Harris, the association’s executive director.
He referenced the document, which states, "We are the premier business advocate in the Crestview area community, providing membership services and proactive leadership to promote responsible economic development, business success, and a high quality of life.”
The broad “Crestview area” reference could encompass neighboring Walton County and surrounding areas, Harris said.
"It's much ado about nothing," he said. "We accept businesses from all over to join our chamber — from Pensacola and even Alabama.”
A members listing on crestviewchamber.com includes businesses and organizations in other counties, including Escambia and Santa Rosa. Blackstone, which joined last August, and Foxwood Country Club are the only golf courses noted as chamber members.
Sulipeck, a frequent Foxwood Country Club patron, said she doesn’t represent the club, but added that the chamber’s decision has displeased other members.
But the chamber’s long-term support of the Crestview golf course precludes the criticism, Harris said.
"Over the past 13 years, we have had 13 tournaments at Foxwood," he said. "It is only fair that we share such things. I find it unreasonable and unfair to expect all golf outings to be held at only one member golf course."
Harris said he had a handshake agreement with B.J. Thomhave, Foxwood’s office manager, to share the wealth with other golf courses that join the chamber.
Thomhave said he didn't recall the agreement with Harris or the chamber, and said he has “mixed emotions” about the chamber’s Walton County tournament.
Thomhave agreed that having the tournament in another county would hurt local businesses in Crestview, especially those that advertise with the golf course. The club pays a $450 membership fee per year to the chamber.
He said the course’s board of directors has approached him regarding the event's location, and club members are not pleased with the chamber's decision.
"We feel like we were left out in the cold," Thomhave said.
"In the past, when there was more than one golf course ─ who were chamber members ─ the golf clubs were able to bid for chamber events,” Thomhave said. He said he wished the chamber had approached Foxwood about it.
"At the same time, this is a free country and they, as a business, can do what they want," Thomhave said.
Still, Sulipeck expressed concern that having the event in another county would hurt local businesses.
"Local restaurants will lose any possibility of catering the event," she said. "Businesses that advertise at Foxwood ... will not get the exposure for their advertising, and Crestview's only golf course loses business.
"If I had a business, I would be real skeptical about joining the chamber.”
Contact News Bulletin Staff Writer Matthew Brown at 850-682-6524 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @cnbMatthew.