The resilient spirit of Texas is alive and thriving within the golf community. The latest example happened on Oct. 7, when Holly Lake Ranch Golf Club in the Piney Woods of East Texas raised more than $8,300 for the TGA Disaster Relief Fund, which helps the hourly employees of TGA Member Clubs affected by Hurricane Harvey.
Days after the Category 4 hurricane ravaged Southeast Texas, Jim Armstrong, the Vice President of the Men’s Golf Association at Holly Lake Ranch, approached Jeff Wilson, the club’s Director of Golf. Armstrong told Wilson he thought the club should do something to help the victims of the hurricane damage and massive floods. Wilson wasn’t so sure at first.
He saw the large sums of money being generated on social media by the Red Cross, Houston Texans defensive star J.J. Watt and others and wondered how much difference his 290-member club located about 30 miles north of Tyler could make.
“Then I saw the email about the TGA Disaster Relief Fund,” Wilson said. “I thought that was the perfect vehicle for us. This fund goes to help a specific segment of golf industry people that we’re trying to help.”
Wilson is exactly right. Many of the dozens of TGA Member Clubs who suffered damages have insurance policies to help with the costs of recovery. Meanwhile, scores of hourly employees from those facilities – food and beverage staffs, grounds crews, outside services, etc. – are out of work while in many cases dealing with flood damages of their own at home. It’s those people who are receiving financial help through the TGA Disaster Relief Fund.
Wilson and Armstrong decided a charity tournament with proceeds going to the fund was the ideal plan. They took it to the MGA for a vote. On the spot, the MGA voted in favor of hosting the charity event. They didn’t stop there, however. Led by President W.C. Dixon, the Holly Lake Ranch MGA also voted to match whatever funds were raised. When the homeowners association, which runs the golf course, heard about the charity event, those members also voted for a dollar-for-dollar match of the amount raised through the tournament.
So it came to be on a sunny Saturday in early October, 120 golfers – 24 five-player teams – took to Holly Lake Ranch for fun and fellowship in the name of helping golf industry workers who are hurting. The entry fee was $30, although the homeowners association waived all but cart fees for non-members. Mulligans were sold for two for $5. Some club members paid an entry fee even though they couldn’t play. Others added additional donations; one member gave $100 on top of his entry fee.
In all, the entry fees netted $2,400. The matching donations from the MGA and the HOA brought the total to $7,200. Add in the mulligans and extra donations and Holly Lake Ranch cut a check to the TGA Disaster Relief Fund for $8,305. The TGA Foundation has plans to contribute to Holly Lake Ranch’s total when it meets soon to discuss distribution of the funds.
“I am so proud to be a part of a golf club that has such a generous spirit,” Wilson said. “While we cannot help with all of the lives being turned upside-down by this disaster, we can help with the re-building process.” 
Wilson made the tournament extra special with some hurricane-themed twists. The teams played a scramble format, and all the water hazards on the course were considered “flood waters” that were deemed as casual water. That meant any player who hit a ball into a water hazard received a free drop.
On the 10th hole, FEMA granted federal relief in the form of each person getting to move up one tee box. On the 18th hole, hurricane-force winds helped each team shorten the hole. One person per team hit a tee shot from their respective tee. Wherever that shot finished is where the team started the hole. 
“I can’t tell you how well this event was received,” Wilson said. “It just couldn’t have gone any better. Our members took pride in helping out fellow Texans in need.”
Pam Schmidt and her husband Keith were among those Holly Lake Ranch members who played in the charity event. She said they saw the devastation from Hurricane Harvey and wanted to help. They’ve given in several different ways, but jumped at the opportunity to specifically help the golf industry.
“We’re not scratch golfers by any means, just your normal ‘go out and play’ type of golfers,” Schmidt said. “But we love the game and respect the people who work on courses and all the work they do to keep it up and get it back after the flooding. We knew we wanted to be a part of that.”
The Schmidts were grouped on a team with Wilson, who said he reveled in the opportunity to actually play in one of the events he helps conduct. It was also an unexpected bonus for Pam and Keith.
“We got lucky and got to play with our pro, Jeff,” Pam Schmidt said. “That really added to the day. Here we are playing with someone who is in the same category as the people who we’re trying to help. We were helping him help his colleagues. That was the best part.”
For more information on the TGA Disaster Relief Fund, or to make a donation to those in need, click here.