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Back on his home course

River Falls native Scott Landin has returned to the place where he learned to play golf to be the new club pro at the River Falls Golf Club under its new owners, Hanson Bros. Golf Holdings of Hammond. Bob Burrows photo

Scott Landin said a neat thing happened to him when he returned to the River Falls Golf Club as its new pro this spring.

"My first week here, there were all these members that I knew when I was a kid," he said. "I thought they were old then and they're all still here. There were a lot of people I hadn't seen in years and years. And they're still in River Falls and still playing golf."

Landin, 41, is certainly familiar with the course on the hill. He played his first round of golf as a junior member at the club when he was 12 years old, and started working putting away carts when he was 13. He worked in the pro shop right up until he graduated from River Falls High School in 1986.

After playing college golf at UW-Eau Claire he moved to Arizona, earned his PGA pro certification, and worked at a number of courses down south. He returned to the upper Midwest and worked at North Oaks (Minn.) Golf Club for six years before opening and spending 10 years at White Eagle Golf Club north of Hudson.

Last year he moved to the Hudson Golf Club, and remained at Hudson after it was sold to Hanson Bros. Golf Holdings of Hammond this past April.

"A month later, River Falls opened up and they knew I was from here," he said, referring to the Hansons' purchase of the River Falls Golf Club in May. "Before I knew it, I was working at two golf courses."

Landin said when he was a kid, his parents, Tom and Karen, would drop him off at the golf course in the morning and pick him up at night. Once he hit high school, he played for the Wildcats under then head coach Dave Kronk and qualified for the WIAA State Tournament three times, twice as a team.

He remembers his time on the course as a youngster fondly.

"When I was a kid, those trees were small," he said, pointing to the line of hardwoods that separates the first and ninth fairways. "I remember thinking as a kid that this was the greatest golf course in the world."

While the course has changed very little through the years, the business of golf has. Landin said that's why the stockholders at the club eventually voted to sell the course to the Hansons this spring.

"Because of the economy, they haven't had the money to really do anything," he said about potential improvements to the course. "Now with the Hansons, they're putting money into the clubhouse and putting in a whole new irrigation system. They're doing work that couldn't be done before because financially they couldn't do it."

The new owners have already launched a major remodeling of the clubhouse including a new bar. They're opening up the banquet room into one big space that will be able to be divided for smaller groups. A revamped pro shop with stairs will lead directly downstairs to new men's and women's locker rooms. Plans also call for remodeling of the kitchen and galley with new grills and fryers.

On the course, a new irrigation system is being installed, and a new roller will be purchased for the greens.

"They've jumped right into it," Landin said about the Hansons. "It's been great."

He said the membership at the club is excited to see the changes.

"They can see almost all positives," he said. "I'm excited to see this place at this time next year. The clubhouse will be done, the irrigation system will be in. You'll really be able to see the effects of what we're doing now."

Landin said next year is also when the club plans to bring the annual 4th of July Firecracker Tournament back to River Falls.

"That always brings a lot of people over from the Twin Cities," he said. "We'll probably start small and build on that, but it's something we definitely want to bring back. Our goal is to get some form of the Firecracker next July. By that time, all the projects will be done and it will be a good way to showcase the club again."

Landin said the goal is to make River Falls one of the premier golf courses in the area, and he's looking forward to helping it happen.

"I'm happy to be back," he said.

Bob Burrows
Bob Burrows has been sports editor at the River Falls Journal since 1996 and at the Hudson Star-Observer since 2009. Prior to joining the Journal, Burrows served as sports editor with Ledger Publications in Balsam Lake, Wis. A native of Bayonne, N.J. and a U.S. Navy veteran, Burrows attended Marquette University before completing his studies at UW-River Falls in 1992.
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