Santa Rosa Beach is not known as a military town, however, it has more military connections than many are aware of.
Santa Rosa Beach Club honored its military members on Flag Day, June 14, with a celebratory benefit. Proceeds will benefit Dogs On Deployment.
"We have a big group of members who serve or have served in the military," said Sarah Brazwell, the club's membership and marketing director.
The club was created in the 1960s, mostly by a handful of retired high-ranking military men who had selected South Walton as their retirement home.
One of the original charter members of the club was Col. Arthur M. Jones, USAF (Ret.) -- charter member 142 -- who joined in September 1970.
Jones wrote a brief history of the club for its 30th anniversary in 1999 using meeting minutes dating from 1967 through 1980.
"In October 1967, Earl Kees called together Gens. Al Gorby, Winslow Morse, Arthur Pierce, and Harold Lucas, who was not a general, to recommend starting a golf course at Santa Rosa Beach," wrote Jones.
A steering committee was formed with Kees as chairman.
The steering committee consisted of Kees, Gorby, Morse, Pierce, James Earl Williams, Wilder Johnson, Murray Beagley, Eric Allen, Lucas, and Van Butler.
Jones emphasized that all were important members of the community.
"Kees was a retired General Mills executive; Gorby was a retired Major General; Morse was a retired Brigadier General; Williams was a retired Air Force Colonel from Fort Walton Beach; Johnson was the local Justice of Peace; Beagley was a retired Air Force Lt. Colonel and founder of Gulf Pines; Allen was the founder of Dune Allen and a local builder; and Lucas was a petroleum engineer," said Jones.
Kees drafted a brochure for a proposal for a golf and beach club then contacted a Dr. Ralph Spires of DeFuniak Springs about his land on 30A. Spires donated easement rights for the club and for the first nine holes.
Everything was a go, and during November and December of that year 125 members signed up.
The club's first annual meeting was held March 4, 1968.
The Beach Club House was completed July 1971 and its 9-hole golf course opened the following month.
The initial success of the club was the result of the voluntary contribution of time, effort, and money by many members who worked long and hard to beat what seemed at the time to be insurmountable odds, said Jones.
Construction started on the new back nine in September 1987.
The pool opened at the beach club in June 1999.
"The history of this club is not something I realized," said Brazwell. "After WWII land was given to generals and high-ranking service members. The military is at the root of the club."
Leading up to the Flag Day event, the golf maintenance team painted a 30-foot American flag on the approach to the 18 green.
The club recognized more than 25 members that night for their service.
The event featured a silent and live auction with 100 percent of proceeds from the live auction going to benefit Dogs on Deployment.
Guests can browse the patriotic-inspired auction items and take advantage of happy-hour pricing beginning at 3:30 p.m.
One of the live-auction items included an American flag that has flown over the United States Capitol.
Dogs on Deployment is a national, not-for-profit organization that places pets in homes while their owners are deployed.
"Honoring our service men and women permeates deep into the roots of Santa Rosa Golf & Beach Club because the club was originally founded by military members," said Michael Bickett, general manager for the club. "We are honored to carry that tradition, honoring those who have served, in addition to raising funds for a great cause."
For more information, call 267-1240 or visit www.santarosaclub.com.