The Ken Ruggiero Junior Golf Tournament has been an integral part of Niagara Falls for more than 40 years.
Now the organizers are trying to give him a much-needed restart.
The tournament was canceled in 2019 due to rain and was never postponed for the 30 registered children before COVID-19 wiped it out last summer. However, Niagara Falls city councilor John Spanbauer reached out to Mayor Robert Restaino to revive the tournament that year.
The 42nd edition of the tournament is scheduled for Tuesday at Hyde Park Golf Course, with an entry fee of $ 5 for children ages 7-17. Unfortunately, the two year hiatus has dampened the excitement for the event and fewer than 10 children per week have pre-registered.
Spanbauer has secured donations and support from the city, Hyde Park Golf Club, Kelly’s on the Green and Niagara Golf Partners. Now he just needs more players.
“In my opinion, the (interest in) golf for young people in this area is low,” said Spanbauer. “I go to the golf course a lot and we don’t see any children out there. The goal of this tournament is to attract more children. If there are 10 children we will do it anyway and do our best. … I don’t care who is out there. Let’s just get the kids out and play. “
Spanbauer originally wanted to run camps and clinics with free sets of clubs to teach children how to play, but the plan was not developed in time and he hopes to pursue these options in the future.
Spanbauer continues to encourage all children to register, even if they have never played. There will be rules for beginners and someone on the court to help teach rules and regulations as the tournament progresses.
“Each of my brothers played in this tournament as a child,” said Spanbauer. “A lot of people at Hyde Park Golf Club have all taken part in this tournament. I think when I was a kid it was a really positive atmosphere to hang out with friends on a golf course. It’s a lifelong skill that you can enjoy. In this city we need children to get involved, and parents need their children to get involved. “
Players aged 15 to 17 years old tee off at 7 am at North 18, 11 to 14 years old at 8.30 am at White 9 and 7 to 10 years old play at 8.30 am at White 9. Registration includes lunch and tickets for prizes giving away.
Registration forms can be found at niagarafallsusa.org.
Nick Saturday can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter @NickSabatoGNN.