Annual Slavic Invitational Tournament tees off in Diamondhead
DIAMONDHEAD, Miss. (WLOX) - There are plenty of adjectives to describe a good smack of a golf ball.
Crushed. Nailed. Smashed. Or, maybe just lucky.
That might be where Keith Diaz fits in, if you believe his self-diagnosis.
“Oh, we’re getting worse,” he said with a huge laugh. “There’s no doubt about it.”
But he keeps coming back. In fact, a member of the Diaz family has played the Slavic Invitational Tournament since the second of its 47 years.
“Well, it’s not the golf because we finished last place before,” Diaz said with another big laugh.
It is something much more.
“Family tradition, it’s fun. We look forward to it. You come out here, you see people play every year,” he said. “Some of these people we don’t even know but you get to meet them and they’re like family. You come out here and just enjoy yourself.”
That’s exactly why Richard Schmidt of Biloxi makes his way here to play.
“It’s a fun game,” he said. “It helps their organization to raise money, which is good thing. And, it’s just a lot of fun. Good food. You get to meet a lot of good guys out here. It’s just an excellent tournament that they have.”
This year, 864 players are working in two-person teams over five courses, including two at Diamondhead. The Slavic has gone national with players representing 32 states.
Brandyn Halat Skeen, who has been working with the tournament since she was a little girl, knows of another formula for success.
“They say, the golfers, that the only reason they play is for the roast beef sandwiches,” she said with a smile.
That may be true, but if not for the hard volunteer work, the tournament wouldn’t have made it to its 47th year.
“It’s a lot of work, and this Croatian community works really hard,” Skeen said. “This is really important to us. It’s a way for all of us to come back together to further our community. My two sons are here now working. I’m starting to implement them into this process because it’s really important to continue to carry on all the hard work and groundwork that was laid so many years ago by all the older members our Croatian community.”
The tournament continues at the Diamondhead, Sunkist and Windance golf courses and ends Sunday with play at Fallen Oak.
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