Tom Brandes of Bellevue, Wash. shot rounds of 71-68-74 to win the 34th Washington Senior Men’s Amateur; while John McDonald of Mill Creek, Wash. shot rounds of 74-75-74 to capture the 13th Super Senior Men’s Amateur.
This is the third consecutive Senior Men’s Amateur title for Brandes, having won it in 2018 and 2019, and seventh overall, having also previously won it four consecutive times in 2011-2014.
This is the first state title for McDonald.
Both championships were held concurrently at Walla Walla (Wash.) Country Club and were conducted by Washington Golf (WA Golf).
In the Senior Men’s Amateur, Brandes began today’s final round with a three-shot lead over Erik Hanson of Kirkland. The two were paired together in the final group. Brandes promptly bogeyed three of the first four holes to fall into a tie with Hanson, and then Hanson birdied the par-5 seventh to grab a one-shot lead. Brandes birdied the par-5 10th for the third day in a row to pull into a tie with Hanson, and when Hanson bogeyed the par-4 12th, Brandes was alone at the top and held the lead to the clubhouse.
“I had never played (Walla Walla Country Club) before this week,” Brandes said. “But everyone told me it was a solid course. And it is. Lots of character, deep rough, and the greens are challenging to read. I figured out how to play it a little more every day.”
After losing his lead to Hanson on today’s front nine, Brandes said he got a better feel for the greens on the back nine. “I was close to Erik (starting the back nine), and I kind of settled down and got the speed a little better with the greens as the day went on. And I just hung in there, and hit a lot of really good shots, and putted better on the back nine.”
Earlier this season Brandes won the Pacific Northwest Master-40 Amateur. He was inducted into the Pacific Northwest Golf Hall of Fame in 2015.
McDonald began the final round of the Super Senior Men’s Amateur three shots behind leader Bill Herron of College Place, Wash. McDonald birdied the par-5 second hole to inch up the leaderboard, and despite three bogeys the rest of the way, he captured the title when Herron, playing in the final group, double-bogeyed the par-4 16th to fall into a tie with McDonald, and then bogeyed the par-5 18th. McDonald, playing in front of Herron, had earlier parred the 18th to grab the lead in the clubhouse and finish one shot ahead of Herron.
“It was a lot of fun,” McDonald said afterward, of his victory. “The golf course staff and grounds crew had the course in terrific condition. The rough was real rough and the greens were fast and firm. It was challenging out there.”
McDonald parred the final six holes in today’s final round, while the other players struggled down the stretch. “I really grinded over the four-foot putts, and that made the difference.”
By chance, McDonald was paired in today’s final round with George Struthers of Richland. The two had been teammates years ago on their high school golf team. “I hadn’t seen George in so many years,” McDonald. “It was really great to see him.”
To be eligible for these two championships, contestants in the Senior Men’s Amateur had to be 55 years of age or older by September 22, 2020, while contestants in the Super Senior Men’s Amateur must be age 65 by that same date. All competitors must have an active GHIN number and USGA Handicap Index issued by a WA Golf member club not exceeding 12.4 at the time of entry.
Founded in 1922, WA Golf is a 501c4 non-profit, amateur golf association governed by men and women volunteers. Serving over 71,000 individual members at more than 550 member golf clubs and 270 golf courses throughout the state of Washington and Northern Idaho, WA Golf works to continually expand the game of golf to people of all backgrounds. WA Golf also serves as a statewide representative of the United States Golf Association and works closely with a number of allied associations within the golf industry for the betterment of the game.