By CRAIG HARVEY
OBSERVER Sports Editor
For the first time since 1990, the Polish National Alliance National Golf Tournament is returning to Shorewood Country Club.
The 51st rendition of the tournament will be held July 18-20 and was brought back to Northern Chautauqua County thanks to the work of chairman Ron Rys and members of Lodge 1193.
“No one stepped up to plate and I used to play in this every year,” Rys said. “I asked the Vice President and we put in a bid. We went through the process. It came down to us and Providence, Rhode Island, and they gave it to us.”
Only insured members of the Polish National Alliance are eligible to participate and 125 will compete.
According to the web site, the PNA is the largest of all ethnically-based fraternal insurance benefit societies in the United States.
The tournament has been running since 1963 and has been in Indiana, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Massachusetts, Wisconsin, Rhode Island and Illinois.
Rys and the committee have been working on the event for two years. Rys has consulted with past tournament hosts from Florida, Rhode Island, Indiana, Illinois and Michigan for advice on how to run a smooth tournament.
The event will be a huge money maker for the area, according to Rys as participants as far away as Florida, Chicago, Ohio and Indiana are registered to compete.
“You have people coming here from all over the place,” he said. “Seventy rooms at the Clarion are booked. Others may be driving in from Buffalo or Erie.”
Rys also noted Music on the Pier will be taking place that weekend which will draw a large crowd. Golfers will begin arriving Monday, practice round and registration is Thursday and the tournament begins Friday.
“Most people plan their vacation around this,” Rys said. “They will go to Niagara Falls and the Casino. There is a Wine Tour set up for the ladies. It’s one really big party. I have good friends from all over coming to this. It’s almost a class reunion.”