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TEEN STANDOUTS PROFIT FROM SIMPLE APPROACH

When it comes to teaching children the golf swing, the less that mechanics are stressed the better.

Golf professional Bill Lindner took an easy-going approach with his children, and they have run with it.

Lindner's youngest son, Corey, has earned the Buffalo District Golf Association's Sub-Junior player of the year award, for players 14-and-under. Raman Luthra, a 15-year-old from Fox Valley Country Club, earned the BDGA Junior player of the year honor, for the 18-and-under division.

"My biggest keys are to teach them how to finish the swing," said Lindner, who runs Bill Lindner's Golf Service in the Town of Tonawanda. "Everything else comes naturally to kids. They don't know how to do it wrong. Not until they get older and stronger should they worry about having a perfect grip."

Good advice. A common and effective technique among teaching professionals is to ask young golfers -- 6 to 12-year-olds -- to copy Tiger Woods' finishing position. Tell them to pretend they're posing for a picture at the end of the swing, with their right toe tapping the ground at the finish (for right handers).

Corey Lindner, a 14-year-old freshman at Tonawanda High, is following the lead of his brother, Keith, who won the BDGA Junior Player of the Year award last summer. Corey Lindner started golfing at age 6 and now has his handicap down to 8.

He and Jamie Miller of Tri-County Country Club battled much of the year in the 14-and-under division.

Lindner edged Miller in the BDGA match-play final, while Miller claimed the BDGA stroke-play crown.

"I don't see him making a lot of mistakes," Bill Lindner said of Corey. "He doesn't hit two bad shots in a row, and he never gives up. He did a good job of battling back in matches this summer."

Lindner was the medalist in the match-play championship at Deerwood Golf Course after shooting 74. He had to win two of the last three holes to survive the round of 16. In the final, he won the 16th hole with a par to tie the match, then won it on the first playoff hole with a par.

Corey and Keith Lindner will make Tonawanda High a formidable golf squad in the Niagara Frontier League this season. Keith is a senior.

But they will have their hands full with defending champion Nichols, which will be led by Luthra.

Luthra did not win the district match or stroke play titles this summer. But he played well enough in the Friday League to claim the junior points title, an exceptional accomplishment for a 15-year-old.

"I was pretty consistent all summer," Luthra said. "I never did anything spectacular, but I just shot a lot of 75s and 76s. I'm more consistent than last year. Last summer I could shoot 72, but I couldn't shoot 75 when I had to."

Luthra has dropped his handicap from 7 to 3 this summer. He has taken a couple of lessons this year from Craig Harmon, the famous pro at Rochester's Oak Hill. He also credits his improvement to more practice time.

"I reserved Wednesday not to play at all," he said. "I practice all day Wednesday. Then I practice an hour every other day."

Luthra was the low scorer from Buffalo at the Interdistrict matches with Rochester and Syracuse at Blue Heron Hills. He also was on the Buffalo team in the Williamson Cup at the famous Devil's Paintbrush course near Toronto.

Luthra finished second in the NFL championship as a freshman last year.

Nick Mango of Audubon was runner-up to Luthra in the points race. Brian Barbarits of East Aurora was third and Brandon Dziura of Deerwood fourth. Bridgewater's Andy Bennett, third at the district stroke play final, was the low scorer for Buffalo at the Williamson Cup with a 36-hole total of 156.

Behind Lindner and Miller in the Sub-Junior race was Mike Slawatycki of Attica. Fourth was Dan Misko of River Oaks.

Gaffney gains Mid-Am

Brookfield's John Gaffney continued his awesome season by qualifying for the U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship, to be held at Old Warson CC in St. Louis from Sept. 25-30.

Gaffney earned one of two berths in the event last week at a qualifier at Wayne Hills, east of Rochester. Gaffney shot 75 and was in a six-way playoff for the final spot. He made a 12-foot birdie on the first extra hole to advance. Leon Smith of Cherry Hill also was one of the six in the playoff.

Gaffney, the state amateur champ, also will be one of the three members of the New York State team competing in the USGA State Team Championship this week at Golden Horseshoe GC in Williamsburg, Va. The other members are Syracuse's Luke Hobika, the state mid-amateur champ, and Casey Alexander, a top player from the New York City area. Fifty-one teams -- one from every state plus Puerto Rico -- are competing.

Gaffney earned 100 points in the BDGA player of the year race for making the U.S. Mid-Am. That moved him up to second on the list at 475. Tim Hume leads with 486. But now Gaffney is done scoring for the year, unless he makes match play in St. Louis (which would give him another 100 points). Because he's in the Mid-Am, he will miss the season-ending BDGA match-play championship, pitting the top 16 point scorers.

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