EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

October 6, 2013

Ryder Cup brings golf rivals Windham, Pelham together

by Bill Burt
Sports Editor

---- — The premise of the Ryder Cup is good, hard, friendly competition against a rival. And in the sport of golf, one of the ultimate individual sports, this is a nice change for individuals who are part of a team.

Coincidentally, as we speak, the top U.S. professionals are playing the top International players, minus Europe, in the President’s Cup, an obvious step-brother of the Ryder Cup.

Well, something was missing between two of the best golf teams in New Hampshire, which also happen to be border towns — Pelham and Windham. Their high school programs don’t compete against each other.

Windham is Div. 1 and Pelham is Div. 2. And,over the last few years, these two programs have wreaked havoc on the rest of the schools in their respective division.

Why haven’t they played each other?

One answer is that scheduling between two different divisions “isn’t easy.”

The other answer, and maybe the correct one, is that these two border towns are still sore over the “break” a few years ago when the school systems were in discussions to combine as one. In the end, Windham chose to build its own high school and then came some, well, bad blood.

Well, a few people questioned the coaches, Windham’s Ken Bourassa and Pelham’s Joe Vaiknoras, as to why the two of the most talented golf teams in the state don’t compete against each other and a “Ryder Cup” type of format was formed.

Windham and Pelham will square off in a Ryder Cup format tomorrow at Windham Country Club.

“We should compete against each other and this is a nice way of doing it,” said Windham’s coach Bourassa. “It’s exciting.”

The format will be over 18 holes, with six holes alternating shots, six holes best ball and six holes as singles.

“Every time Pelham gets the chance to compete against Windham High is exciting,” said Pelham’s No. 1 golfer, Jake Vaiknoras, a three-sport star in golf, basketball and baseball. “The rivalry we have made has really grown over the years and I think it has benefited Pelham and Windham.

“Windham is our rival and always will be,” said Jake. “There is nothing better than beating them and nothing worse than losing to them. For golf, though, it is sort of hard to have a rival because it’s just a relaxing sport.”

Windham’s top player, Connor Greenleaf, knows Jake Vaiknoras well and understands what is at stake for him and the team. The duo will no doubt be facing each other for most if not all of the holes tomorrow.

“I know Jake pretty well. I don’t know any of the other guys,” said Greenleaf. “Jake and I have played school golf together since middle school. He’s a good and cool guy ... It is always nice to win, of course, but at the end of the day it is all about having fun. It is good practice for both teams going into the state tournaments.”