By Joel Hall
Businesses throughout the Southern Crescent gathered at Crystal Lake Golf and Country Club in Hampton on Tuesday for the Heritage Cadillac Invitational, a benefit tournament for the Clayton County Chamber of Commerce.
In the second year that Heritage Cadillac Saab of Morrow has been the title sponsor, the event has grown into the chamber's best fund-raiser. Rocky Davis, chairperson of the tournament, said it gives the local business community a chance to unite in the face of a challenging economy.
"The whole idea is to build up the community through relationships," said Davis. "You want to make people want to be a part of the community.
"The way that you confront the hard times is that you stand together," he said. "This is a way to have a good time and intermingle with each other. It's not just something fun to do, but it is a good way to build relationships with your clientele."
Yulonda Beauford, president and CEO of the Clayton Chamber, said the event had more than 40 sponsors this year, and 30, four-person teams participated in the tournament. She added that the Clayton County Economic Development Department was highly involved in this year's tournament, seeking to develop new business ties within the county.
"It continues to encourage me to see the businesses in the county support the chamber," said Beauford. "We have a lot of loyal businesses who really want to see the county prosper. The golf tournament provides such a good opportunity for businesses to interact on a social level," Beauford continued. "At the end of the day, it's an extreme benefit to the chamber."
At high noon, dozens of teams in navigation-guided golf carts took to the golf course, each bearing an emblem of the business they represented. John Barefoot, a project manager with Carter and Associates, a real estate firm, echoed the sentiments of other golfers enjoying the breezy afternoon.
"A bad day of golf is better than a good day at work," said Barefoot, who also participated in last year's invitational. "It's a great tournament, and we have developed some friends at Clayton State [University] since last year. It's just fostering relationships."
Sabrina Crawford, co-owner of Heritage Cadillac Saab, the event's title sponsor, said this year's tournament came together with much greater ease than the year before.
"I think we had so many people walking away [from last year's tournament] saying that this was the best tournament they had ever participated in," said Crawford. "From an organizational standpoint, we were much better this year. We had more time to plan, so we thought of more fun things to do."