Small-town Ryan nearly advances at Senior Am

Dave Ryan at the 2010 USGA Senior Amateur.

Dave Ryan at the 2010 USGA Senior Amateur.

ORLANDO, Fla. – History will record the fact that 56-year-old Dave Ryan, of Taylorville, Ill., reached the Round of 16 of the 2010 USGA Senior Amateur Championship, losing 4 and 2 to Frank Ford III, of Charleston, S.C.

For me, it goes deeper than that. I see Ryan as golf’s passionate everyman, the guy whose rapture for the game cannot possibly be dented or diminished. In the face of countless crooked shots and endless bad bounces, the everyman is like the proverbial downtrodden Marine recruit, screaming to the golf gods, “May I have another, sir.”

Why, sure. Golf has plenty of misfortune to distribute.

Ryan learned to play golf on a nine-hole course in the middle of the corn and soybean fields of central Illinois. Today that course has been abandoned and gone to weeds, but generations of golfers will never forget the legacy – they whacked the ball around that nine-hole layout, making up their own cross-country holes, and they developed an attachment to the game that has never been broken or severed.

So it is that golf’s good fortune outweighs the misfortune every time.

Imagine the magnitude of what Ryan accomplished in the Senior Amateur, which is, after all, a national championship. A man who has lived all his life in a town of 9,000, he traveled 200 miles to play in a Senior Amateur qualifier near Chicago, made it, then came to Orlando to play against big-name golfers such as Ford.

I have known the South Carolina Fords for decades and decades. They are royalty, the first family of South Carolina golf.

And here is an unknown from Middle of Nowhere, Ill., trying to invade the kingdom and derail the dynasty. So he fell short. This time, anyway.

Along the way, Ryan did finish among the top 64 in the medal-play portion of the event. Then he won two matches, advancing to the Sweet 16. 

Most of us, the golf fanatics of the world, are largely or totally anonymous outside our own little towns or cities or counties. And that’s OK, because we don’t play the game for recognition. We play it for fun, for self-satisfaction, for the challenge that doesn’t go away.

Ryan, the everyman, has done better than most. Inspired by Jim Frisina, the five-time Illinois State Amateur champion who lived in Taylorville, Ryan has played in 11 USGA championships over the years.

To most observers, though, he might as well be Private Ryan or Farmer Ryan as Dave Ryan. Here at the Senior Amateur, nobody really knows what he has accomplished.

Ryan spent many years assisting in various family businesses, although he now lists his profession as retired. His wife, Amy, runs a boutique called Top Drawer in Springfield, Ill.

His Taylorville golf buddies phone and e-mail him here in Orlando, reminding him of the small-town life he appreciates so deeply.

There is Don Beane, a retired judge who caddied for Jerry Barber when he won the PGA Championship in 1961.

There is Jim Marblestone, Ryan’s father-in-law, who once was the longest hitter east of Route 29 in Taylorville. OK, let’s be honest – Taylorville never had any long hitters.

There is Bill Hopper, who always seems to be involved in one golf project or another. He was one of the movers and shakers behind the resurrection of Minocqua (Wisc.) Country Club, one of America’s best small-town golf courses.

“Time to go home,” says Ryan, and he really means it.

Oh yes, I should mention something else about Ryan’s former nine-hole course. That layout, without a single par 5, was where I, too, learned the game, and the experience played an enduring role in shaping my life.

Dave Ryan is a friend, and we share more than just the same hometown. Whereas others may see weeds on that forsaken old course, we see memories of who we used to be and who we would become.

• • •


Results from the Round of 16 of the U.S. Senior Amateur, played Oct. 5 at Lake Nona Golf & Country Club:

ROUND OF 16

Pat Tallent def. Marvin Giles, 20 holes

Frank Ford III def. Dave Ryan, 4 and 2

Don Thames def. David Williamson, 19 holes

Chip Lutz def. Stewart Alexander, 19 holes

Paul Simson def. David Anthony, 2 and 1

Tim Miller vs. Stanford Lee, 5 and 4

Greg Reynolds def. Randy Nichols, 2 and 1

Jeff Burda def. Sam Farlow, 2 and 1

ROUND OF 32

Pat Tallent def. David Szewczul, 1 up

Marvin Giles def. Bev Hargraves, 1 up

Rick Woulfe def. Frank Ford III, 2 up

Dave Ryan def. Bruce Scamehorn, 1 up

Don Thames def. Jim Knoll, 4 and 3

David Williamson def. Bill Zylstra, 2 up

Chip Lutz def. George J. Zahringer III, 1 up

Stewart Alexander def. Douglas Pool, 2 and 1

Paul Simson def. Logan Jackson, 4 and 3

David Anthony def. Terry Werner, 2 and 1

Stanford Lee def. Dan Bieber, 2 and 1

Tim Miller def. Michael Kelly, 4 and 2

Randy Nichols def. Chuck Palmer, 19 holes

Greg Reynolds def. Steve Smyers, 19 holes

Sam Farlow def. Tom Knapp, 4 and 3

Jeff Burda def. Robert Allshouse, 4 and 2

ROUND OF 64

Pat Tallent def. Dave Bates, 2 up

David Szewczul def. Arthur Kania, 19 holes

Marvin Giles def. Robin McCool, 19 holes

Bev Hargraves def. Pete Willoughby, 5 and 3

Rick Woulfe def. Christopher Veitch, 25 holes

Frank Ford III def. Mike Booker, 4 and 3

Bruce Scamehorn def. John Lindholm, 20 holes

Dave Ryan def. Glenn Mullian, 2 and 1

Don Thames def. William T. Doughtie, 1 up

Jim Knoll def. Dick Satterfield, 1 up

David Williamson def. Rick Luzar, 2 and 1

Bill Zylstra def. Ted Pecora, 1 up

Chip Lutz def. Thomas Nesbitt, 1 up

George J. Zahringer III def. Raymon Thompson, 4 and 2

Douglas Pool def. Richard Pfeil, 5 and 4

Stewart Alexander def. Larry Clark, 4 and 3

Paul Simson def. Curt Knorr, 6 and 5

Logan Jackson def. Kim Mansfield, 4 and 3

Terry Werner def. James Lyons, 6 and 5

David Anthony def. Gary Palmer, 21 holes

Stanford Lee def. Bill Cavaness, 6 and 4

Dan Bieber def. Jim Henderson, 2 and 1

Michael Kelly def. Steven Whittaker, 3 and 2

Tim Miller def. Duke Delcher, 6 and 5

Randy Nichols def. Jon Groveman, 5 and 4

Chuck Palmer def. Don Erickson III, 4 and 3

Greg Reynolds def. David Pocknall, 2 and 1

Steve Smyers def. George “Buddy” Marucci Jr., 19 holes

Tom Knapp def. Charles Jones, 4 and 2

Sam Farlow def. Corliss J. Nelson, 4 and 2

Robert Allshouse def. Skip Runnels, 2 and 1

Jeff Burda def. Brad Larsen, 4 and 3

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