MORE THAN GOLFING BUDDIES  

JOHN D'ONOFRIO/STAFFGolfing buddies Jeff Siefert, left, and his dad, Jim Siefert, on the scenic Lockport Town & Country Club back patio.

LOCKPORT — A testament to the relationship Jim Siefert shares with his son, Jeff, away from the golf course, was his answer to the question,“What's the difference with golfing with a ‘buddy’ and golfing with your son?”

“He IS my buddy,” Jim emphasized, just 48 hours after he and his son claimed the 65th Lockport Town & Country Club Men's Invitational Tournament title.

“We have a good time when we're together. We have a few cocktails, a few beers, a few shots and maybe get into a little mischief (laughing), but we have a lot of fun,” Jim said last week, with his son on the East Avenue country club's back patio, while passers by offered their congratulations to the dynamic duo.

It's Jim's third LT&CC title in almost three dozen invite appearances and the first for Jeff, a former standout Lockport High School and junior golfer. Playing with his brother, George, Jim captured men's invitational titles in 1997 and again in 2005.

Jim's been a club member for 35 years, joining  a group of about five dozen men who made the move over from Ransom Oaks when it closed.

“I'm one of two who still remains as a member — Dr. Larry Cappiello being the other,” Jim said.

Jeff got started early, golfing since he was about 8 or 9. He played junior golf for many years and was also a member of the LHS Lions golf team that played its home matches at the LT&CC under two different coaches, first Jack Iannone and upon his retirement, Dave Gilson.

When brother George joined the Brookfield Country Club, Jim started partnering up with his son starting about seven years ago in the annual LT&CC invitational. 

“George was my partner for years. He's a member of Brookfield now and he plays with his son, Gavin, and I play with my son, Jeffrey,” Jim said.

Jim and Jeff said they were confident heading into this year's invite, despite Jim's carpal tunnel surgery on both wrists back in April.

“I got a late start. I think I golfed for the first time Memorial Day weekend,” Jim said. “I didn't hit it very long and it was wet all spring and my handicap scooted up a little bit. Maybe I was a little high for this event. My handicap was 14. As of tomorrow, it's back to 12.”

Jeff said it was an inauspicious start for he and his dad in the three-day tournament, with an opening round of nine holes played on Thursday, Aug. 1, and 18 holes played on both Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 2 and 3.

“We struggled through the first nine holes,” Jeff said. “Neither one of us played very well. On Friday, we played much better and heading to Saturday's final round there was a four-way tie in our flight, so we knew we were in it.” 

Jim said a good morning round on Saturday helped propel them to victory.

“We won a max five points in the morning round and that got us the lead. We were plus six with the next lowest team at plus two, so were four holes up. We had to win one point in the afternoon match and we won two,” Jim said.

The LT&CC invite went to a playoff after that with the tourney's seven flight winners and a wildcard winner heading to an eight-team, four-hole, double elimination shootout on country club holes 1, 3, 5 and then 18.

“We managed to hang in there ended up playing Wilson basketball coach Brian Baker and Keeley Swick for the championship,” Jim said. “We shook hands on the 18th tee and we teed off. None of us hit the green and we pretty much made four bogeys. Jeff's handicap was 19 at the time so he got a stroke  on the last hole.”

It was a nail-biting finish with Jeff making the key shot, a chip out of the sand trap that may have been a little strong, but hit the flag stick and spun away about 10 feet from the hole.

“At that point in time, unless one of the other two guys would have knocked in a 30 foot putt, he pretty much had a two-putt from 12 feet and that's what Jeff did,” Jim said. “He almost knocked it in. He hit it a couple of inches away and tapped it in for the victory. We won it with a net par.”

“It was really great. Just a lot of fun,” Jeff said about his experience, adding, “Now we get to defend our title next year.”

Jim has been working in the Lockport area as a wholesale liquor and wine sales representative for Empire Merchants North for 40 plus years. Jeff works at KeyBank and also as a bartender.

Jim and his wife, LeAnne, have three children, Jeff, along with older sisters Christine and Marie.

Follow veteran US&J sports reporter and editor John D'Onofrio at @JohnD'Onofrio7.