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Morgan golf assistant coach Ryan Cherry played at least one round of golf in all 50 states during a 50-day span this summer. (Photo courtesy of Ryan Cherry )
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Ryan Cherry has always thought of himself as the quintessential public course golfer. However, Ryan never thought that he would become a marathoner in the sport.
Ryan is a 15-year Haddam resident who teaches at Jared Elliot Middle School in Clinton and is an assistant coach for the golf team at The Morgan School. This summer, Ryan accomplished something that most golfers would consider impossible: He played 53 rounds of golf in 50 different states in 50 days.
“I remember talking to a friend a few years ago. His dream was to play golf in all 50 states in his lifetime,” says Ryan. “Then it became, why not do it in one year?”
Ryan’s expedition began at the Stony Lee Golf Course in Attleboro, Massachusetts on June 24 and ended with a round at Clinton Country Club on Aug. 11. Just to add a little dash to it, Ryan and several of his friends played at Portland Golf Club the very next day.
What would drive a 53 year-old father of three to take on a mission of such mammoth proportions? Ryan was motivated to raise awareness for a foundation that was created by his daughters Andi, Kylie, and Caroline.
“My three daughters have created a national foundation called Girls Play Golf, Too. Their purpose is all about raising money and giving younger girls a chance to get going in the sport. Mine has been about creating awareness,” Ryan says. “What my daughters are ultimately hoping is that some national companies like Titleist and others will get involved.”
Ryan expended a great deal of energy throughout his nationwide trek, which included nearly 12,000 miles of driving, another 7,000 in flight miles, and more than 65 miles of distance covered on the golf courses. Ryan used carts at times. In other situations, he walked the courses.
Ryan endured a six-day stretch where he played a pair of 18-hole rounds in two different states and once drove 500 miles to get from Colorado to Amarillo, Texas. This came after a two-round day with rounds in New Mexico and Colorado.
Ryan played on a few private courses during his journey, including Sand Hollow Resort in Seattle, Washington. From there, he flew to Hawaii to play at the Pearl Harbor Navy Marine Golf Course in Honolulu. After that, it was off to Alaska for a round at the Palmer Golf Course.
“It was an honor to play at Pearl Harbor,” says Ryan. “The course was flat, so I decided to walk it.”
Ryan went on to swing through Washington, Oregon, California, Arizona, and Nevada. As he worked his way south, things started to heat up on the links.
“The southern swing turned out to be the toughest part of it all,” Ryan says. “It was 90 degrees when we teed off in the morning in Amarillo and over 100 degrees when we got to Oklahoma.”
Ryan wanted to get himself in better physical shape before he started out. However, that plan quickly changed.
“Initially, I was looking at a three-month program,” says Ryan, who grew up in Idaho, attended Boise State University, and then finished his education at the University of Colorado. “Then I thought, ‘Why torture myself for three months?’ I did a few days of push-ups and sit-ups and decided I was ready to go.”
Ryan discovered early on that the physical part wasn’t going to be a hindrance. What concerned him was the mental aspect.
“I had those doubts. Once I started, however, I knew I couldn’t walk away,” Ryan says. “Too many people had become invested in what I was trying to do. I couldn’t let them down.”
Eric Bergman, the head coach of the Morgan golf squad, is one of those people. According to Bergman, Ryan does a great job of passing on his passion for golf to the Huskies in his role as an assistant coach.
“He still has this love for the game. He’s so passionate about playing,” says Bergman. “The more he told me about what I was planning to attempt, the more I encouraged him. But I also began to wonder if he’d be able to pull this off.”
It certainly wasn’t easy for Ryan to pull it off. He faced his fair of share of challenges along the way, including one instance where the weather threatened to put a damper on things.
“We played back-to-back rounds—one in Sioux City, Iowa and then across the state line in Sioux City, Nebraska. Everything went well on the first round, but it changed drastically on the second,” Ryan says. “It began to rain, then the lightning and thunder arrived. My two buddies went in. I trudged on. I had to complete the round.”
Ryan lost 19 pounds over the course of his 53-day voyage, and his golf game kept improving throughout. Ryan started out with a 12 handicap, but he was able to reduce it to eight.
“It was all in my attitude,” Ryan quips. “I still have a lousy swing.”
One of Ryan’s favorite places to play was the course at Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina. Furman is known for having one of the best women’s golf programs in the country.
“It was right up there with playing at Pearl Harbor,” says Ryan.
Ryan then marched up the East Coast and played in New Jersey, after which he headed back to Connecticut for his final round.
“When I walked off the 18th green at Clinton Country Club, I had mixed feelings,” Ryan says. “It was a sense of relief, along with disappointment that it was over.”
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