This has been a trying year, no one will debate that. Most of our chapters have had limited exposure to their fellow members for most of the year. Some chapters have not been able to have a single meeting in person this year. That was the case for the Alabama Chapter until November 2. On that day, the chapter held its annual fundraising tournament at Willow Point and members were able to see each other in person for the first time this year.
Even though we feel stuck in time with the pandemic, everyone's life keeps moving forward and you really get a sense of that when you visit with friends you haven't seen in many months. There were members who have gone through cancer treatments and were happy to have hair again. There plenty of stories of hurricanes and challenging situations that your friends have gone through. But the hardest part to overcome while catching up with everyone was not seeing that old friend who had managed the golf course as long as you can remember.
Cole McInnis was the only superintendent I ever knew at Willow Point. I first met him when when he walked up to me and introduced himself while competing in the state amateur championship at the Country Club of Mobile. You see, Cole wasn't just a good person, he was also a heck of a golfer. Through the years, I got to know him better and always enjoyed sharing stories of golf maintenance, family life and updates from Alexander City. His facility, Willow Point, is one of my favorite courses to play in the state and I was not shy about coming to visit when I could. Playing golf with Cole was always fun as well because the conversation covered the spectrum and the golf was always top notch. This was the first time I drove up the drive to the clubhouse with a great sense of grief. My old friend Cole had lost his battle with COVID-19 a few weeks before the event, and on a beautiful sunny day, there was weird feeling about being at Willow Point. The sadness was felt by all that were at the club that day.
Before the tournament started, there were many stories shared about Cole and how he was a fixture in the industry in Alabama. After a few more stories and a moment of silence, the group headed out to the course to participate in the 2020 Donnie Arthur Tournament. The course was in great condition and it was great to finally get on with an in-person meeting in Alabama. Everyone had a great time and the full field meant that the chapter would be able to give another significant contribution to Children's of Alabama Hospital in Birmingham where children are treated for cancer. The chapter has supported the hospital for many years and it was great to be a part of yet another successful event, though it was shrouded in sadness.
In true keeping with the year 2020, the chapter found out a few days after the event that many of its transactions for the event registration that were processed using a Square credit card reader didn't show up in the proper bank account. It was determined that the device had been hacked and someone had made off with thousands of dollars that would have gone toward the charity. The chapter is working to try to recover the funds but so far it has been a difficult task.
So, while it was great to get out to an event and visit with friends in person, it has been an emotional ride for everyone involved. Fortunately, not all of the funds from the event were taken and the chapter will still be able to donate to the hospital. It seems like the year 2020 has been filled with ups and downs for all of us from the virus to hurricanes to the general uncertainty that seems to be around every corner. The ups and downs of this event seem to fit nicely into the 2020 picture frame.