HARWICH — Cranberry Valley Golf Course is a self-sustaining recreational facility that also hosts charity golf tournaments. But decisions that froze out two local benefit tournaments are raising questions of fair play.
When the golf committee issued its charity tournament schedule for 2021, the date the Monomoy Athletic Boosters’ Club charity event received was different than requested and the Harwich Chamber of Commerce's request to hold a fundraising tournament at the course was denied.
The Monomoy Boosters will be taking their tournament to a private course elsewhere on the Cape, and the chamber tournament will be held at The Captains Golf Course in Brewster.
Golf Committee Chairman Clem Smith told selectmen last week during a discussion on the use of the municipal course that there have been a lot of rumors and innuendo about the golf committee votes on the charity/fundraising tournaments. There are guidelines for allowing the charity tournaments, he said, and the committee has a fiduciary responsibility to the town when making such decisions.
“We’ve had zero complaints in the last 10 years,” Smith said. “We constantly work with groups to be sure tournaments are successful.”
The course policy for charity events includes paying half the greens fee rate and full cart fees, Smith told selectmen. Tournaments start at 8:30 a.m. and usually take five-and-a-half hours. They displace 33 tee times or up to 132 golfers over that time.
With COVID-19 over the past year, there was a strong desire for golfers to get outside and play, and that has placed a lot of pressure on tee times at the course, Smith said. Committee member Jack Connolly said room has to be made for people who are paying to play.
Jason Laramee, representing the booster club, said he has been involved in the golf industry handling charity tournaments for 15 years. He commended the way CVGC handles charity tournaments.
But Laramee said the group has held its tournament on the Monday of Columbus Day weekend for the past three years and it is important to keep that timing to retain participants. There are a lot of business owners across the Cape that set aside that day to play in the tournament, he said, adding that out students at the school volunteer for the event. If it is moved to the next week, students continuing to do so would have to take a day off from school.
“It’s a date that works for us and we’re going to retain that date,” Laramee said.
“The committee did not deny the Monomoy Athletic Boosters, they simply offered the Monday following Columbus Day weekend,” CVGC Director Roman Greer said in an email. “It was determined that with the increased demand for golf and the busy season extending though Columbus Day weekend in recent years, this event was an inefficient use of the golf course on a popular holiday weekend.”
Greer said participation in the Boosters’ event has been low, averaging 68 for the three years, the lowest participation of any shotgun event the course hosts. The tournament goes forward in the rain, so the course could generate revenue on a day when it otherwise might not be collecting greens fees, Laramee said.
Among the charity events the course hosts are tournaments for the Harwich Police Association, the Harwich Fire Association and the Salute Military Golf Association. The member associations events also raise funds for local charities such as The Family Pantry of Cape Cod, WE CAN and other groups. Greer said Closest To The Pin contests are held for organizations raising funds for charities.
The Toast of Harwich is usually the chamber’s major fundraiser each year, but given the pandemic, the Toast was canceled this past year, Executive Director Cyndi Williams said. The tournament was to be an outdoor event. Denied Cranberry Valley, the chamber reached out to The Captains Golf Course which agreed to host the tournament on May 26, she said. Tee times are still available, she added.
“Yes, we’d love to have it in our own town, but it didn’t work this year. Will it work next year? It would be nice to bring it back to Harwich,” Williams said.
Smith said The Captains Course has two 18-hole courses and that allows them to take care of tournaments and public access at the same time.
The pandemic has increased golf play, Selectman Michael MacAskill said, and there has been criticism because Cranberry Valley members could not get a tee time. MacAskill suggested the board consider reducing out-of-town memberships so the chamber of commerce and residents aren’t going elsewhere.
The selectmen voted 4-0 to uphold the decisions of the golf committee on this year’s tournaments. MacAskill said Laramee’s presentation did not fall on deaf ears and the selectmen would bring the topic back for further discussion in the near future.