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20 years of Tradition: A premier college tournament helps UNCW and the Country Club of Landfall grow together



The relationship between the UNCW women’s golf program and the Country Club of Landfall flourished over the past 20 years and the annual Landfall Tradition nurtured such development. 


Cindy Ho coached the Seahawks in each edition, inheriting a tournament conceived by her predecessor Jan Mann. Through the years, Ho and the Landfall Tradition tournament committee adhered to the initial mission: attract a strong field and present one of the best college golf tournaments in the country.


With four of the nation’s top-10 teams and five of the top-11 players teeing off Friday morning on the Dye course, the field is strong again. Ho is focused on preparing her team for tricky pin placements and the shifting winds of a coastal fall.


She appreciates the support of the Landfall membership. Not only the 300 or so volunteers who assist with scoring, shuttling and every other detail during the week but also the financial support generated for her program through this annual event. 


The Seahawks’ access to the club’s 45 holes and practice facilities has evolved to where it’s their home course six days a week. Having the opportunity to sharpen their skills on demanding well-manicured courses only helps Ho in her efforts to recruit talented players and build the program.


“The members come out to watch, and for our players that’s really special,” Ho said. “A lot of (members) have their alma mater and they also have a spot for the Seahawks. It helps our program, we’re really welcome there, helps us develop our players because we play at a first class facility.” 


UNCW started strong this fall. The Seahawks finished second in the Golfweek Fall Challenge, firing an 8-under 276 in the final round. They were eighth out of 18 teams in the Lady Paladin Invitational and ninth in the Ruth’s Chris Tar Heel Invitational at the demanding Governor’s Club in Chapel Hill. 


Victoria Levy, a sophomore from Switzerland, earned CAA Player of the Week on Monday after a top-10 finish in Chapel Hill and has a 72.89 stroke average through nine rounds this fall. Mallory Fobes shot a final-round 67 in the Golfweek Fall Challenge to finish tied for fourth at 6-under. 


This is the third Landfall Tradition for Fobes, a senior from Burlington.


“When I was coming in, I didn’t realize how big the Tradition is. It’s huge, it means so much to everyone around us and especially in Landfall,” she said.


It’s uncommon to have spectators from outside her close friends and family at a college tournament. But she relishes the opportunity.


“It’s exciting to have people you don’t know come watch you,” she said. “I know it makes me play better. I know it makes my teammates play better. It’s amazing to have so many people we don’t know supporting us.”


Results are important but the benefits of competing against the best players and teams extend beyond the Sunday scoreboard. Those experiences may pay off when UNCW competes in the CAA tournament or possibly NCAA Regional championship. UNCW is paired with No. 2 Wake Forest, a certain national title contender, in the opening round Friday.


The Demon Deacons - three-time Landfall Tradition champions - are one of the powerhouses who return to Wilmington each fall to compete.


“We’re very fortunate because there are so many tournaments, so many great tournaments, but a lot of these teams keep coming back,” Ho said. “From our perspective, we have a strength of field to test our own players and measure our program. Every year we’re gaining a little more scholarship money. With the help of the tournament we’ve been able to add one full scholarship. That’s going to help us. We’re not quite there yet but we’re getting closer. We’re more competitive than a year ago. It helps us measure our program.”


Some of the Seahawks, including their coach, started the week battling sickness but Ho knows her team will be ready to compete come Friday.


Fobes is excited and shares her sensible formula for solving the diabolical Dye course: hit the fairways, aim for the middle of the greens and avoid pins cut in the corners. The risk of a round-ruining double bogey outweighs the potential reward.


Sounds like a smart plan for a successful future.


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