Ryan Cherry is currently on the golf trip of a lifetime, but with a specific goal in mind.
Cherry, a Haddam resident, is attempting to play in all 50 states in a 50-day span. That trip is scheduled to end on Aug. 11 at Clinton Country Club.
Cherry is trying to raise awareness for girls golf. There is a sizable discrepancy between the amount of CIAC boys golf teams and ones for the CIAC girls.
“Most girls are playing high school golf on boys teams,” Cherry said. “I’m trying to raise awareness for girls golf and to create opportunities for young girls to get involved in golf before high school.”
Cherry, 53, has three daughters. He teaches at Eliot Middle School in Clinton. He is also the assistant boys golf coach at The Morgan School in Clinton.
“There is not a single (girls) team in the Shoreline (Conference),” Cherry said. Morgan competes in the Shoreline for all sports.
Cherry planned the entire trip well in advance and had the full blessing of his family: wife Mariellen and daughters Andi, 24, Kylie, 22 and Caroline, 19. He booked tee times at every course — including two rounds in Oahu, Hawaii. Cherry said he has played in seven different time zones.
“When I did the work, logistically, it seemed pretty reasonable,” Cherry said. “Physically, I feel great, but I do miss them.”
His wife and three daughters have been with Cherry at different stops of his trip. Andi joined him this past week. They spent Friday exploring Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky, a non-golf day.
Cherry did rounds in multiple states on the same day a few times to be able to stay on the 50-day schedule – and to be able to have fun outside the courses.
“I hit 10,000 miles today (last Wednesday) driving. I’ll be close to 12,000 when done,” Cherry said. “I’ve played with friends along the way.”
The Cherrys have created a gofundme page for anyone willing to donate to the cause. It’s located at the website girlsgolftoo.org. Their goal is to raise $15,000. The proceeds will go towards “sponsoring some (golf) clinics for girls. We hope to turn this into a great foundation that continues to grow,” Ryan said.
You can check out parts of Ryan’s journey on his Facebook page and on Instagram @girls_golf_too_.
“The idea is to create something for the girls so they don’t have to play against the boys,” Ryan said. “I hope girls golf too will go well beyond my summer lunacy.”
It’s been quite the memorable year for junior golf in Connecticut.
The Greenwich boys won the FCIAC and CIAC Division I state championships for the second straight year. The New Canaan girls three-peated in both championship events.
Ben James of Milford lapped the field at the Connecticut Junior Amateur, then was the highest state finisher at the 44th Junior PGA Championship last week at Keney Park, tying for ninth place.
Maisie Filler of Bloomfield was the highest finisher for the girls event held at Keney earlier in July. This was the first two times the state has hosted an event run by the PGA of America.
The marquee events for the junior contingent continues Tuesday when the 18th Northern Junior returns to New Haven Country Club.
“There are 25 different states and countries represented,” said Brent Paladino, who helps run the event. “Every year, we go up against junior events (around the country) trying to get the best players. It’s exciting to have two big events in back-to-back weeks.”
There are 23 state players in the event that started as the Stan Trojanowski Memorial in 2002 named after Paladino’s late grandfather. The event changed to its current name in 2009.
“It’s hard to compete with AJGA (American Junior Golf Association) events,” Paladino said. “So the way we treat the players, we kind of take a page out of the Travelers Championship. The moment they arrive at New Haven Country Club, we make them feel like a tour player, not just with leaderboards and live scoring, but also with a long drive contest, mini-golf contests and we invite the families to be a part of it. While it is a two-round golf tournament, we try to make it a full week to get the entire families involved.”
Paladino is in his second year as the executive director of Golf House Kentucky. He is missing a pair of important events this week.
“I am missing our women’s open and our biggest charity event, so it’s definitely a week I could be used here,” Paladino said. “But when I took this job, I made it clear to everyone that this is the one week I go back to Connecticut. At the end of the day, this event is so much more than a junior golf tournament for all of us (involved with the tournament). The thought of missing out on it would be an empty feeling. At the end of the day, friends and family come before work.”
James, Chris Fosdick (Middlefield), Alex Aurora (Hamden) and Tyler Woodward (Durham), all of who qualified to play in Boys Junior PGA last week, are in the field this week. Joining them includes Connor Belcastro (Darien), the 2018 Junior Amateur winner, Matt Doyle (Madison), the medalist in the CIAC Division II state tournament; Sydney Nethercott of Greenwich, the first GameTimeCT State Girls Golf Player of the Year this past spring; and Sophia Sarrazin of Westport, who won the Borck Junior Girls Golf Tournament last week.
There will be no cut in the 36-hole, stroke-play tournament. Anyone wishing to volunteer can apply through the tournament website, northernjunior.com.