CRESTVIEW — For the past 10 years, golfers have gathered at Foxwood Country Club each October to help raise money for the Christian Thomhave Memorial Scholarship Tournament.
The tournament helps fund an endowment for a scholarship to Northwest Florida State College bearing Christian Thomhave's name.
Christian Thomhave died in a 2002 car accident, a week after graduating from Niceville High School. While he lived in Niceville and played golf for the Eagles, he was very much a part of the Foxwood Country Club community where his dad, B.J. Thomhave, is the longtime general manager.
"He kind of grew up on this golf course so (the tournament is) a big part of Foxwood and Crestview, even though he graduated from Niceville because I live in Niceville," B.J. said. "The Crestview people have probably helped more so than the people in Niceville and we are just happy to keep it going."
B.J. Thomhave's voice still cracks when he talks about his son.
And his face lights up as he recalls an improbable shot Christian made out of the green-side bunker at the 16th hole at Foxwood.
Christian made the shot in 1998 on his way to claiming the Okaloosa Middle School championship for Ruckel.
Time has eased some of the pain for B.J., but Christian is always with him.
"He hit a bad shot off the tee and I didn't want to watch what he did out of the bunker so I left," B.J. said. "When I came back I didn't want to dare ask (how he did at 16). But he was hitting first at 17 (an honor that goes to the low score on the previous hole) and I asked, 'How can Christian hit first on the 17th?'
"So I asked one of his fellow players had Christian get hit first, and he said, 'He birdied 16, Mr. B.J.' And I said, 'Oh,' because I realized he hit it in from the sand. He shot 2-under for the tournament, but 4-under on the back nine to earn low medalist."
After 10 years, the community’s generosity has helped raise more than $70,000 for the endowment.
"We are starting our second decade," Thomhave said. "By now, the scholarship is endowed. With the help of a lot of generous sponsors, players and people within the community, we have raised probably about $75,000 to $80,000 throughout the years.
"And with some help with some grants we got from the state, the endowment is probably right now at about $110,000."
Brandon Martin, a 2003 Crestview High graduate, was the first recipient of the scholarship and knew Christian Thomhave well.
"I grew up with Christian playing golf for many years," he said. "Whenever I first started playing, he was somebody that I could play with and was really good to compete against. When I got the scholarship it got me started and really pushed me in the direction of becoming a golf pro.
"He was such a great golfer and he would always compete with me and try to get me to bring it to the next level, which really got me playing golf more."
Martin said the scholarship is important because it helps students who might not otherwise have a chance to attend Northwest Florida State.
B.J. Thomhave, along with his wife, Karen, and daughter, Kalena, hope to keep the tournament going as long as they can.
“It's a good thing to remember Christian," B.J. Thomhave said. "It obviously helps other kids go to college. We think it's a good thing we do every year.
"I was thinking one of these years we probably are not going to do it any more. We are getting older and what have you, but as long as I can manage, I feel like we will just go ahead and go on and have the tournament. It honors Christian's memory."
WANT TO HELP?
WHAT: Christian Thomhave Memorial Scholarship Golf Tournament
WHEN: 11 a.m. Friday, Oct. 25
WHERE: Foxwood Country Club, 4927 Antioch Road, Crestview
COST:$34 for Foxwood members, $44 non-members
SPONSORSHIPS:Hole sponsorships available for $100 a hole
CONTACT: B.J. Thomhave, 682-2012 or 826-2012.
Randy Dickson is the Crestview News Bulletin’s sports editor. Email him at email@example.com, tweet him @BigRandle, or call 682-6524.