It’s been a Fraser family tradition since 1970: On the last Thursday in February, they flee the winter weather in western Pennsylvania for Florida sunshine and a few days playing golf.
And The Senator Course at Don Shula’s Golf Club has hosted the Pap Fraser Memorial Tournament, named for the family patriarch, for all 51 years.
“It’s really like a second home for us,” said William “Bill” Fraser III. “I’ve gone 28 years now.”
His late grandfather, William “Pap” Fraser, Sr., traveled with friends to South Florida five decades ago to play golf and they discovered Shula’s.
“It grew from there, and they started to invite other guys,” he said “Through the years we’ve probably had about 75 different people come and go.”
Wives and sisters travel south, too, but they don’t play during the tournament.
It may have up to 20 players, friends and relatives who in past years have traveled from Texas, Oregon, Ohio, Maine and Washington for the annual reunion.
This year’s tournament was especially memorable for Fraser’s father, William Fraser Jr., 81, and his uncle, Ken Fraser Sr., 77.
While playing on the last day and in the same foursome, the men shot their ages, one of the rarest accomplishments in golf.
It was also unforgettable because right after last year’s gathering the COVID-19 pandemic was declared.
This year the family and friends “did the mask thing” when they were out and about, Fraser said.
At night the group would return to some of their favorite places in town, including Trattoria Pampered Chef Italian restaurant.
“Gabe’s is the place we never miss,” Fraser said about the Cypress Village Shopping Center spot owned by Ghobrial Nash.
This year they also tried Chela’s Beer Garden for Mexican food and went
to Ben & Jerry’s for ice cream.
Why do the Frasers and friends return to the resort? “l think one of the main reasons is that for many, many years, we always felt like family,” Fraser said.
“We would walk in and we knew the people that worked there.”
Fraser mentioned the many former staffers he has known and those he still looks forward to seeing.
He also recalled when the Frasers met former Florida Gov. and U.S. Sen. Bob Graham, whose family developed the town and the resort.
“I have memories of still seeing all the cow pastures, and when there weren’t
that many trees on that golf course,” Fraser said. “We love the area. Everybody had a great time.”