“It’s nice to be nice.”
Those are words we can all live by every day, right? Eddie Szpaicher, who left us too soon on January 2, 2012, personified these words. He was a man of the community, the prototypical rag-on-ya’ bartender, and a constant smiling face whenever you saw him around town. Big Ed is missed.
When a community as tight knit as Ellicottville loses someone like Eddie, it rapidly comes together. So in the summer of ’12 when the 1st Annual took place, it was (and still remains) the largest tournament Holiday Valley has ever hosted - by a lot. Two packed-full flights saw over 250 people celebrate Eddie’s life and legacy. On Wednesday, July 12, 2017, Holiday Valley will again play host to the 6th Annual Eddie Szpaicher Memorial.
“It’s interesting to see the different perspective of what town is when something like this happens,” said Brooke Szpaicher, one of three daughters who survive Eddie. “It’s more of a … family than a town. Everyone comes together and is so supportive. People come out of the woodwork! It’s awesome.”
While golf can be considered a serious, stuffy game by some old schoolers, (writer’s note: golf is not this) the Eddie couples golf, drinks, friends and a celebration of life. I’ve missed one year of the tournament, and the other 5 have been a highlight of my summer. It’s exactly the type of event Eddie would love.
“It’s definitely more about the golf, and the celebration,” said Trey Clauss, Eddie’s son-in-law. “We’ve never had major corporate sponsors, so it’s incredible to say that we’ve raised and given away over $25,000 for the Eddie Szpaicher Scholarship Fund.”
The scholarship, given to two graduating seniors of Ellicottville Central School, are $2,500 apiece. A significant contribution to any student heading to higher education.
“Anybody can donate or be a hole sponsor, which are $100,” Trey said. “We keep the prizes to a minimum, because people aren’t playing to win. It’s a day of celebration.”
There are two shotgun starts that you can play in - 8am and 1pm. The day starts with coffee and breakfast around 7am, and you can expect lunch at the turn before dinner that night. (Insider secret: playing in the early flight gives you plenty of time to hang by the pool until dinner starts.)
“It’s so fun to see the old school meet the new school in terms of who Eddie knew,” Trey said. “You’ve got the guys he grew up with, went to school with and knew from early in his life. Then there’s the Ellicottville crew that knew him from the bar, from school functions and around town. All different walks of life come to this. And what’s really cool is that there are newer people each and every year - so you know that the people who’ve played love it and bring their friends.”
Trey was quick to mention that without tournament organizer Jay Stoddard, it wouldn’t be what it is today. If you want more information on the tournament or to sign up, head to www.bigedgolf.com or their Facebook Page @Eddie Szpaicher Golf Classic.
“It’s such a good day to celebrate Eddie,” Trey said. “People know that it’s a good time. And it is a good time.”