James and Sean Ryan became the second Berkshires team to earn a state championship in three weeks on Wednesday at Indian Pond Country Club in Kingston, combining for a 1-under par 71 to capture the Junior Division of the Massachusetts Father & Son Championship by two shots.
The Ryans’ victory in the modified alternate-shot event followed a win on Aug. 8 in the Junior Division of the Father & Daughter Championship by Wahconah Country Club’s Paul and Danielle Lapierre.
"It’s was fantastic," James said. "It’s a very different feeling winning something like this with your son. It’s a feeling that you aren’t ever going to forget."
Wednesday’s win came a year after the father-son team came oh-so close to grabbing the title.
"Last year, we thought the scores were going to be lower and didn’t know where we stood when we played the last hole," James said. "We three-putted to miss a playoff by one shot."
Coming down the stretch this time, the Ryans knew they were playing well, but were taking nothing for granted.
"We had no idea where we stood, but we didn’t think we could make any bogeys," said James, 47, a longtime Worthington Golf Club member who now plays at Berkshire Hills Country Club.
The Ryans were able to avoid the bogeys -- eight pars and a birdie on the back nine -- but again three-putted No. 18. Fortunately, this time it was for a par since they reached the par-5 green in two.
"When we walked off the green, I said to Sean, ‘If we lose, I hope we lose to a 66,’ " James said.
It turns out one team -- Dennis and Cody Booska -- still had a chance to tie. But, with a bogey-par finish, the Booskas finished two shots back and in a tie for second with Tom and Andrew Flynn.
Sean, a 15-year-old junior at Hampshire Regional High School and a Worthington member, got the team off to a good start with a birdie on the par-5 second hole by draining a speedy 15-foot putt.
"I got very lucky on that one," Sean said. "I hit it fairly hard and it was downhill and luckily it dropped in for us."
The Ryans suffered a double bogey on the par-4 third hole, but dad responded by making an 8-foot birdie putt three holes later. They finished the front nine at even-par 36 to set the stage for the bogey-free back. While it looked routine on the scorecard, Sean’s putting came to the rescue with crucial par saves on holes 10, 11 and 14.
"We had some long birdie putts and I left Sean with 8- and 10-foot putts, but he made them," said his proud father. "People talk about the birdie putts, but par saves keep the momentum in a round going."
The team’s mindset paid dividends as the pressure grew.
"Mostly we tried to play as if it was a round of golf at Worthington or Berkshire Hills," Sean said. "We wanted to go out there, hit the ball around and see how we did."
The birdie came on the par-4 15th when Sean ripped a 3-wood down the middle, James hit his approach to within 15 feet and Sean calmly made yet another putt.
As is always the case in the modified alternate-shot format -- both players drive, pick the best one and then alternate shots -- both players must contribute to a victory.
"On nine of the holes we used Sean’s drives, and on nine we used mine," James said.
With the juniors teeing off about 10-15 yards ahead of their dads, the tee shots finished in close proximity to one another.
"These young kids hit it pretty far," James said. "It’s not like we were 30 yards out of position. It felt like we were playing a regular round of golf."
In the end, however, it turned out to be anything but a regular day for father and son.
Three other Berkshires teams took part in the tournament. In the Junior Division, the Stockbridge Country Club’s Jim and Matt Finnerty (76) tied for eighth place. In the Senior Division, Taconic Golf Club’s George and Sam Garivaltis (73) tied for 13th place while Ted and Cam Boraski (79) tied for 48th.
To contact Richard Lord:
or (413) 496-6236.