Landes picks wisely

Choice of 8 iron leads young golfer to tourney win

Posted: Sunday, May 14, 2000

Golf club selection is crucial when you can use only one.

Most competitors at the One-Club Golf Tournament Saturday ditched the putter, the pitching wedge and the drivers, choosing instead to use a 7, 8, or 9 iron to take advantage of those clubs' medium-distance capabilities.

That strategy worked for 16-year-old men's winner Will Landes, who opted for an 8 iron to tackle the nine-hole par-27 Mendenhall Golf Course, which features all par-3 holes. Landes shot a 31 to beat out 39 other golfers.

``I figured it would be enough for the shorter holes and still be able to get distance,'' said Landes, who is one of about 18 members in the local Junior Golf Club.

The real difficulty was putting with an iron. Landes solved that dilemma by striking the top part of the ball to avoid the backspin created by the angled face of an iron.

``That's why putters have a flat face, to avoid backspin,'' said Landes. ``It was hard. You gotta hold the club above the ball and skull it to give it top spin.''

Golfer Steve Shan tied with Landes after shooting a 31, but Landes was awarded the title on account of his better score on the seventh hole, the last score where Landes had a better score than Shan. Landes' Junior Golf Club teammate Chris Lamonica shot a 32 to finish third.

Jean Bolten shot a 44 to beat 20 golfers in the women's field. Jennifer Schmitz claimed second place on a tiebreaker with Jill Lawrence after both scored a 45.

Also competing in the tournament was new Junior Golf Club coach Greg Browning, Juneau's new chief of police. Browning took over for the husband-and- wife team of Suzie Cary and Daryl Adams, who left Juneau for the sunny greens of Arizona. Cary was the only card-carrying member of the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) in Alaska and taught at the Mendenhall Golf Course.

Browning, who recently moved the Juneau a few months ago from Amarillo, Texas, said the club includes junior high and high school golfers. The season begins whenever the course opens. The team practices every Saturday and Sunday at the Mendenhall Golf Course, and will travel to the Mount Fairweather Golf Course in Gustavus and to Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, to play.

Landes said he'll travel to Anchorage in July for the Junior State Amateur Tournament, where he placed 20th last year against golfers who train on 18hole courses.

Browning said he golfed avidly with his two sons in Texas, and wanted to continue teaching the game to youth in Juneau.

``Their skills range from excellent to beginner,'' Browning said. ``There's no skill required. The only skill is that they want to play.''

John Barrett, president of the 300-member Juneau Golf Club, said the One-Club Tournament raised nearly $1,000 for the Junior Club. Barrett is leading the push for the proposed 18-hole course near the end of North Douglas Highway, which is currently awaiting a conditional-use permit from the city.

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