Chris Perry Column: If It Was Only A 15-Foot Putt...

Chris Perry •

We might have let one slip away.

It hurts every time Nantucket loses a community member who moves off-island. But when it is a youthful local who is a role model to many of the island’s younger kids and has connections that stretch from Sconset to Madaket and all points in between, it stings a little more.

Lead Miacomet Golf Club assistant golf pro and local golf aficionado Bram Daly headed to Florida earlier this week by way of Maine. As a local who has seen his fair share of ferry cancellations over the years, Bram left earlier than expected due to last week’s storm. Consequently, his sudden departure is more like a quick ripping off of the band-aide that will take some time to heal.

Bram Daly during his time on the Nantucket High School golf team.

Born in 1993 and having just turned 30, Bram is one of Nantucket’s most well-known golfers. Obviously skilled and with a long resume of tournament success, Bram Daly leaves behind much more than that. His family ties to the island and Bram’s history with all four of the island’s golfing venues for the past 20-plus years leave a huge void and rather large shoes to fill.

Recently, his annual winter migration south was for a temporary golf gig at one of Florida’s fine private golfing communities such as the McArthur Golf Club in Hobe Sound. But this time around, it has all the characteristics of a permanent move to the Sunshine State as he and his fiancé, Maggie Kramer, relocate to Florida.

“Bram was super competitive and loved any strategy game out there. As a child. I think that is what separated him from his golfing competitors - his mental toughness. It developed early on,” said his proud but melancholy dad, Mike, who sat with me recently at Miacomet to reminisce and tell tales about Bram.

As one of Nantucket’s most colorful island residents and the pied piper of plumbers on-island, Mike rambled on with stories of Bram growing up such as his days working for Mark Hartfield in the bag room at Sankaty and “sneaking” onto the course late in the afternoon to play 1, 2, 8, and 9. And when inquisitive members asked what they were doing, Mike would respond, “Bram and I are just locking up.”

It was tough to hold the proud father back.

Mike continued and mentioned the Nantucket Golf Club and Kathy Costa who helped Bram secure a caddying position as a “13-year-old even though he was only 12.” He laughed about helping “Skinner” at the Sconset Golf Course.

But more importantly, Daly’s funny stories and Bram’s fond memories represented important Nantucket vignettes involving numerous local golfing characters such as Peter Dooley, Will Maier, Meg Mahoney, Trevor Wellen, Greg MacKay and Bob Kuritek who all helped shape Bram’s golfing foundation.

“His mom wanted to keep a close eye on him, especially after school. There was no wandering around the island or goofing off. Bram was a voracious reader and he did well in school. Claire made sure his homework was done and then he could commit to after-school activities like CPS basketball, swimming, or golf,” said Mike who obviously appreciated his wife’s meticulous approach during Bram’s adolescence.

Daly went on: “He certainly did not get it from me. Clair’s thoroughness was appreciated by Bram and it translated well into competitive golf.”

Once his “chores” were done, Bram quickly found his passion on the golf range.

“I remember going over to the Miacomet range with Dell Wynn and his kids and we would let the boys loose hitting balls for hours,” Daly said. “They loved it. It was a different time then and not ‘Billionaire Island’ like it is today. Eventually, they got involved with Jr. Golf. The boys had to dress nicely and shake hands with their opponents after each match no matter what the outcome.

“Dell and I used to laugh – ‘Hey, look at our kids all dressed up in a collared shirt and playing golf and shaking hands.’ That was cool…”

Along the way, there were several golf professionals who were suitably impressed with Bram’s skills. When he was only eight, former head pro Mike Merrill noticed Bram on the range and immediately put him into golfing clinics with older kids.

Another former head pro at Miacomet, Phil Truono, also took notice while Bram participated in the Miacomet clinics and started moving Bram into the 3- then 5- then 9-hole groupings at a young age which eventually led to Bram’s “high school debut” as a 7th grader on the Nantucket High School golf team.

Success continued with a tremendous amount of Jr. Golf including an opening U.S. Challenge Cup Match at Bethpage Golf Course on Long Island which hosted the 2002 and 2009 U.S. Open and will host the 2025 Ryder Cup. Bram played in the Mass Open as a 16-year-old - the youngest player in the field. He teed it up on a couple of occasions in the Mass Amateur, further cementing his passion for the game of golf. Finally, Bram capped off a highly successful high school career with a Cape Cod Championship at Bayberry Hills in 2010.

“What I really enjoyed was watching Bram grow up right in front of me,” said his dad. “We really bonded throughout those trips. Living on Nantucket, it was always an away match. That helped make Bram get tougher on the course. Whether the boat was going or not, we would pack up and head out. Clair was thorough in packing everything that we could possibly need. Ironically, she has never seen Bram play live in a tournament because she has always felt that golf was ‘his thing with Dad.’ That’s a true compliment to her. But, off we’d go and it was always special being the underdog from Nantucket”.

After graduating from Elon College with a degree in exercise science, Bram turned much of his attention toward the business side of golf and worked his way up the golf chain at Miacomet Golf. For the past few years, Bram has played a key role in the pro shop and has been a fan-favorite to many.

“He was an incredibly hard worker,” said Mike Haberl, director of golf at Miacomet.

Haberl continued, “Bram ran all the leagues, taught lessons, worked with members and non-members alike, and was instrumental in the Club’s tournaments. I tried to get him to stay but he is a man of his word and Bram made a commitment to Old Palm Golf Club in Florida”.

Miacomet’s C.F.O. / Controller, Nicole Turner, who has worked with Bram for 10 years at Miacomet said, “We both grew up on Nantucket and went to Nantucket High School. Even though he was several years behind me, I remember reading about Bram as a high school golfer and I thought it was so great for Miacomet to get him to come and work here. Initially, Bram was so shy, but over the years, you could see the passion grow for his job. He was so engaging with everyone. Bram was incredibly thorough and he was just such a warm spirit to have at Miacomet.”

Golf is a numbers game; and at the end of the day, everyone wants to know what you shoot. Traditionally, the “official” low round at a golf club must take place during a tournament. Therefore, it is hard to argue Patrick Nealon’s 34 front - 31 back for a tidy 65 in the 2021 Mid - Am co-hosted by Miacomet isn’t the low round at M.G.C.

But, if you are talking local golf with Kenny Hammond, Brian Secia, Steve Visco, Nate Roberts, or Jay McConnell - all of whom can legitimately claim some sort of “low score at Miacomet” at some point with scores in the 60s - Bram’s 10 birdies in one round certainly is a highlight and good enough for me to include Bram in the conversation of lowest score recorded at Miacomet from the tips.

Presently, Bram and Maggie are driving south on Route 95 just crossing over the Pennsylvania border. Undoubtedly, great things lie ahead for them and Nantucket will never be more than a long drive and a 5-iron away for Bram.

Nevertheless, it is difficult to see "Nantucket’s youth” look ahead and see the attractive bright lights of a future off-island. It is a selfish loss for us on Nantucket but it is happening more often than we think. As our younger generation tests the global opportunities that await them off-island, can we blame them?

Certainly not.

When asked about returning to Nantucket, Bram said, “Never say never…”

That’s encouraging enough for me.

If only that question was about making a 15-foot, uphill putt with a slight break to the left for Bram to win the tournament.

Then, I’d say it was a slam dunk.

On behalf of Nantucket, good luck - we’ll miss you.

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