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Golf: Making the Turn – UL’s Petroleum Engineering Department benefits from golf tournament

Dan McDonald, Daily Advertiser, March 19, 2014

There are a lot of students in UL’s Petroleum Engineering Department that don’t play golf. But golf has been very good to them.

Because of golf, and the generosity of sponsors, those students have upgraded facilities, a more modern place to work and learn, a larger staff of instructors and the opportunity for scholarships to further their education in the petroleum engineering field.

And it’s all happened in the last decade, thanks to all of those involved in the department’s Petroleum Engineering Golf Tournament.

You may know it by one of its former names. The event began as the Francis Broussard Memorial for a planned five-year run, and then became the Ronnie Gaspard Memorial for four years to honor two of the program’s biggest friends and benefactors – and well-known Acadiana golf figures.

This year’s tournament is set for April 21 at Le Triomphe, and it enters its second decade after making a huge impact on the UL program over its 10-year run.

When the tournament began, UL’s Petroleum Engineering Department had 150 students, three professors, one lab assistant and no computers in sight. This year, the program boasts over 500 students with seven professors and four graduate and lab assistants, with all staffers and areas fully computerized.

More importantly, the funding provided by the tournament and affiliated sponsors has helped “clean up” the department literally and figuratively.

“Our students enjoy much better facilities now,” said department head Dr. Fathi Boukadi. “With the support from the tournament, classrooms, labs, the student lounge and offices have all been refurbished and are better equipped.”

Jimmy McCartney of Boots & Coots, one of the central figures in the event throughout its existence, listed over $1 million in direct assistance to the department from the tournament and a couple of major sponsors who first got involved through the tournament. Included in that is over $300,000 from Knight Oil tools for remodeling, landscaping and a GA scholarship, and $175,000 from NOV for a GA scholarship and real-time drilling instruction.

Both the Broussard and Gaspard events brought in approximately $250,000 during their runs.

“We’ve been able to make a difference,” McCartney said. “The funds that the tournament and our sponsors have provided have helped improve the educational facilities, the lab renovations, upgrade the teaching tools, and keep up with the newest and latest innovations and technology of our industry.”

That work continues. This year, the UL department has added two rooms from an adjacent department, and those need upgrades with desks, presentation equipment, printers and computers along with work on a future drilling lab. Many of those areas will be put into use this fall, so funds from the tournament are vital for those areas.

“Our alumni have noticed all the renovations that have been done,” McCartney said. “They’re proud that it’s now one of the top petroleum engineering programs in the country, and we’re proud that the tournament has been a catalyst for that.”

The four-person scramble event has a noon shotgun start with registration and lunch beginning at 10:30 a.m. An awards party follows play and food and drink are available at many on-course locations.

The tournament annually fills to a 144-player capacity, and McCartney urged all players, whether in the oil field or supporters of the university as a whole, to enter as soon as possible. More information is available from McCartney at 298-7070 or at jimmy.mccartney@halliburton.com.

(“Making the Turn” appears each Wednesday in the Daily Advertiser. Clubs, courses and individuals with information about local golf events may email Dan McDonald, editorial director at Golfballs.com, at danmcdonald@cox.net, FAX to (337) 857-8763 or call (337) 857-8754 and leave a message with phone number. The "Making the Turn" radio show on Sports Radio ESPN1420 returns in late March.)