Last year’s winner Jeff Wiggins starts his round. (Tom Patrick/Yukon News)

Armed with eight-iron, Blaine Tessier wins seventh One Club Wonder title

Tessier cards 86 at 21st annual tournament

Whitehorse’s Blaine Tessier is a wonder with one club.

The 43-year-old captured his seventh title at the One Club Wonder Invitational on Sept. 16 at Mountain View Golf Club.

With the title the multiple-time Yukon men’s champ has now won a third of the low-gross titles offered in the tournament’s 21-year history.

Tessier has worn the winner’s Golden Cardigan — the tournament’s answer to the Green Jacket of the Masters — more than anyone else.

He hasn’t played in the Yukon championships in recent years, but he never misses the one-clubber, in which golfers play an 18-hole round with just one club of their choice, using it as driver, iron, wedge and putter.

“It’s good to have the yellow sweater, everybody wants this yellow sweater,” said Tessier. “This is the best tournament all year. You get to hang out with people, have some laughs, and that’s what it’s all about.”

Tessier took the win with a score of 86. He logged seven pars and chipped in on hole 5 for his only birdie on the day — one of only three in the tournament this year.

While six- and seven-irons are most people’s weapon of choice, Tessier went with an eight-iron. He last won the tourney in 2015, tying the tournament record of 77 — also with an eight-iron.

“I took my buddy Gordo’s (Starko) eight-iron because it was going as far as my seven-iron,” said Tessier.

“The guys I was with, we had a good time today,” he added. “I enjoy this third week of September. It’s up there.”

Ron Kulych swung his club to a second place finish with a 90. He finished his round with the fewest putts of the tournament, tapping 28 while on the dance floor.

Two-time Golden Cardigan wearer and Mountain View club pro Jeff Wiggins, who was the defending champ, hit 91.

Michael Brooks also finished with 91, which went down the handicap slide to 78 to win the low net title for his first time after a decade playing the tourney.

“I’m feeling pretty good,” said Brooks, who used a six-iron. “I didn’t putt very well but I hit the ball really, really well. And I tied Jeff Wiggins the pro, so I’m pretty pumped.”

“I have shot a little bit better with all my clubs,” added Brooks.

Doug Janzen and Russ Smoler tied for second in low net, each hitting 79s — as did Kulych after handicap.

Dan King, who won his second Yukon men’s title this past summer, pencilled in a 93 for fifth overall in low gross.

Five-time winner Vic Istchenko, who shares the tournament record of 77 with Tessier (shot in 2014), matched King with a 93 of his own. Mountain View superintendent Derek Wirth also hit a 93.

For a few years now the One Club Wonder has been capped at 36 players with invites going out to Yukon champs, pillars of the golf community and past one-club participants … and somehow this lowly sports reporter. (My score is unimportant, so don’t ask).

“What we have we wanted to be a good social occasion and to do that what we discovered through experience is that 36 is a nice number,” said tournament co-founder Patrick Michael. “One year we went to 48 and it was too much. People who were in early were having to wait too long for the conclusion of the tournament. So it’s tough not to expand the tournament. There are others who would like to play — it has an attraction.”

There are other one-club tournaments out there, but one element seems to make Whitehorse’s unique: booze.

In the early years the tournament was held in October, about the time most Yukoners store their clubs and start waxing their skis. To battle the chill, Michael and his friends would set off with small 200-millilitre bottles of St-Remy Brandy.

Though the event is now held in slightly warmer September, the hooch has remained a part. It’s in the rules, in fact. Each golfer is assigned a small bottle of the sauce before tee off and must consume it before stepping off 18. The menu has changed over time with the addition of whiskey, vodka, rum, and if you don’t mind some teasing, Baileys Irish Cream.

But, as is evident by a close inspection of scorecards, Yukoners can handle their drink. Twenty-four of the tournament’s 36 golfers actually shot lower on the back nine than on the front.

If all that sounds like fun to you, you’re not alone.

“In a Yukon event often people wait to the very last minute to put their names in, buy their tickets,” said Michael. “We, the organizing committee, which is me, can put out the invitation in January and in 48 hours have a 90 per cent response rate.”

Contact Tom Patrick at tomp@yukon-news.com

 

Leif Lassen putts with his iron from the fringe of the 18th green. (Tom Patrick/Yukon News)

Low net winner Michael Brooks lines up his final putt of his round. (Tom Patrick/Yukon News)