Smiles abound every year at the Fredonia State Alumni Golf Tournament, with foursomes engaging in friendly competition and reconnecting with fellow alums and friends at Shorewood Country Club.
Mike Kuryak (’73) may live more than 1,500 miles away from Fredonia, but that doesn’t stop the busy Austin, Texas, entrepreneur and management consultant from keeping a very important date with his golf buddies.
These aren’t just any golfers, mind you. They’re fellow 1970s alums that return to Western New York every July to play in the Fredonia State Alumni Golf Tournament — among 120 golfers that play in the tournament held at Shorewood Country Club.
Members of this fabled foursome may change from year to year, but Kuryak has anchored the group of mid-1970s graduates, comprised of Bill Wood, Gary Hess, Bill Hayden, Jim Clauss and Gary Toomey, since the inception of the four-player scramble tournament six years ago. Some live in the Buffalo area, but others now call other parts of the country home.
“They became friends during their time at SUNY Fredonia and they come back because they still are friends and because they golf. It’s a nice way for them to pop back into town again,” said Rich Ryan, co-director of the tournament and associate director of Development.
“It’s a chance to see each other, see Fredonia and play golf all at once. Some make a full week out of it — sort of a little mini vacation — and play other courses while they’re here,” Ryan added. Kuryak, who has been involved in several business startups as a founder, angel investor and/or advisor, says the tournament is a fun way to support the university and its programs while staying connected with alumni and friends, faculty members and administrators. He arranges visits to family members who live in the Buffalo area and also savors such famous Western New York cuisine as Ted’s Red Hots and La Nova Pizza.
“It’s also the opportunity to meet new alumni,” adds Kuryak, who has lived in Austin since 1992. He has three sons, one daughter and two grandchildren.
During the tournament, players are treated to lunch and dinner, 18 holes with cart, and a bag of Fredonia “swag” and other giveaways. There’s also a live auction that usually includes autographed Buffalo Bills’ or Sabres’ items. A prize table is stocked with dozens of things such as Fredonia State licensed apparel, food baskets, golf accessories, gift certificates – even Amish-made furniture!
The Fredonia State Alumni Tournament was created when two separate events (one that benefitted the Phillips Track & Field and Cross Country Fund and the other that raised money for a University Police-sponsored Criminal Justice scholarship) were combined.
“Many of the golfers return because of the great time they had in the past. Everyone leaves with something, whether it’s a full belly, gifts or just a great time with friends,” said Clifton Wheeler, a lieutenant with University Police and tournament co-director. “They all tell me that they look forward to next year’s event and ask me to give them a ‘heads up’ when we know when it’s going to be, so they can plan accordingly.”
The 2014 tournament will be held Friday, July 18, at Shorewood, a private course on Dunkirk’s Lake Erie shores that offers some challenging greens and beautiful lake views. Major tournament sponsors have included DFT Communications, Star Media Group, Lipsitz Green Scime Cambria LLP, Lake Shore Savings, the Buffalo Bills and West Herr New York.
“It’s an excellent opportunity for alumni to get together and affordably play golf with other alumni, for the benefit of their alma mater. Returning golfers rave about how much they enjoy it,” Ryan said.
New golfers — either foursomes or individuals — are always welcomed. Tickets can also be purchased for dinner only, for those who don’t golf. Online registration is available at www.fredonia.edu/golfalumni.
Proceeds from the tournament, which typically raises $10,000, go to the University Police Scholarship, Alumni Association scholarships, Phillips Cross Country and Track & Field Fund, and Foundation Scholars awards.