HENDERSON — A perfect week of weather in Vance County continued earlier this month when 24 different teams gathered at the Kerr Lake Country Club to take part in the 22nd Annual Henderson-Vance Chamber Challenge.

In a year dominated by the COVID-19 pandemic, Henderson-Vance Chamber of Commerce President Michele Burgess considers it fortunate that the golf tournament was able to take place this year and was even more thrilled to see a good amount of people show up for the event.

“We had a lot of volunteers out here today, and everyone was wearing their masks and had their assigned spaces,” Burgess said. “Everyone talked about how glad they were to see people, so we were very excited about today. Golf is the perfect way to ease back into everything.”

When COVID-19 case counts initially began to surge in North Carolina, Burgess said she was unsure whether Gov. Roy Cooper would allow such a large gathering to take place, even with only a handful of restrictions being implemented on golf courses in the state.

Once Burgess knew for certain the Chamber Challenge would happen, she diligently worked with the Kerr Lake Country Club to ensure that all guidelines from Cooper and the Centers for Disease Control would be properly implemented to guarantee the safety of everyone in attendance.

“Last year we all would have been gathered in one room eating a buffet lunch,” Burgess said. “This year we had our own individual box lunches and everyone was either outside eating or on their golf carts, but that was just one example of how we had to change things. We did our best to be extra cautious.”

Burgess said that the Chamber Challenge would not have been possible without all of the loyal sponsors that have supported the Henderson-Vance Chamber of Commerce over the past several years, which included the event’s presenting sponsor in Truist Bank, formerly known as BB&T and SunTrust.

Truist market leader Gaylen Hackemack said that it is important for events like the Chamber Challenge to take place to bring community members from all different backgrounds together, and believes that the golf tournament had more value with the COVID-19 pandemic keeping everyone indoors for most of 2020.

“The greatest thing about [the Chamber Challenge] is for us as a local bank to get out and see our clients and community members come together for one big event,” Hackemack said. “It’s always great to see how people interchange with one another and build friendships over years, so this is a good community activity for us.”

Along with a $400 prize that was awarded to the team that came in first, several skills contests took place at different holes around the Kerr Lake Country Club. The prize for a hole in one on the third hole was a 2020 Chevrolet Equinox LT, while a hole in one on the eighth hole yielded a golfer a one-year supply of 12 dozen golf balls.

M.R. Williams came home with the $400 top prize by putting together a score of 55. Henderson-Vance Economic Development took home $200 with a score of 56 while Charles Boyd Chevrolet rounded out the podium with a 57, which netted them $100.

Burgess expressed her gratitude toward everyone who came out to support the Chamber Challenge and interact with other people and businesses during the afternoon, which she believes is crucial in fortifying the strong economic future of Vance County.

“We’re just here to have fun,” Burgess said. “We want to have a good time, but a lot of good networking takes place here, too. I introduced several business people that didn’t know each other beforehand and that’s what the chamber is all about. We want to connect people and help them build a healthy alliance.”

If the situation surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic improves, Burgess wants to see the Chamber Challenge expand to include both a morning and afternoon tournament to accommodate more teams for the 2021 event.