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Facilities: UL golf facility now a reality - see photo gallery of ribbon cutting - Elston in S. Ama

Dan McDonald, The Advertiser, July 19, 2017

Athletic Network Footnote by Dr. Ed Dugas:
Please click here for the Ribbon Cutting Photo Gallery by Brad Kemp.

UL’s golf team finally has a home, and it’s a nice one.

Last Thursday’s ribbon-cutting officially ended a project that was several years in the dream stage, two years in the planning stage and nine months in actual construction on the Ragin’ Cajuns’ 4,000-square-foot facility that is housed at Oakbourne Country Club.

“This is a Ferrari that we’ve been handed the keys to,” said Cajun golf coach Theo Sliman. “We’re excited about getting into it and driving this facility really fast.”

That’s the idea behind the $600,000 project, one that gives the UL program its first-ever true golf facility. UL has never had a locker room, or a dedicated equipment and club repair room, and Sliman has never had an office that’s located within the confines of a golfing environment.

The Cajuns also have never had anything like the technology-loaded hitting bays, the three all-weather practice areas located in the second of the two buildings which contain the absolute state-of-the-art in video and computer equipment.

“This place gives us every opportunity to succeed,” said rising junior Triston Elston, who represented his Ragin’ Cajun teammates in a group that cut the ceremonial red ribbon in front of a crowd of approximately 200 Cajun supporters and Oakbourne members on Thursday. “With all of this, we’re not just playing a guessing game anymore. Using all of this technology, there’s always a definite answer when we have a question.”

Elston hit the ceremonial first shot out of the hitting bays Thursday, and fittingly he did that with an old MacGregor blade 8-iron that Sliman carried in his bag back in his playing days. The old-school club style was a reminder of how many former Cajun players never had a chance to use the facility during their careers, but who played an essential role in making the facility a reality.

Many of them are now members of the Vermilion Links Club, the official support group for the Cajun program that contributed approximately $250,000 to the construction costs. That contribution followed a pair of kickoff $200,000 gifts from Brad Mosing and father Don Mosing, who both also took part in Thursday’s ribbon cutting.

“If you spell golf, it starts with a ‘G’,” Sliman said during Thursday’s ceremony, “and today that is for gratitude. It was two years ago this month that Brad, Jeff (former Oakbourne president Jeff D’Amico), Cliff (Oakbourne pro Cliff Wagner) and I sat in the grill here at Oakbourne and talked about having a facility like this. But this started a long time before that.”

Sliman was referencing the unique family tree that has led the Ragin’ Cajun golf program. Long-time coach Bob Bass, the coach on the all-time Sun Belt Conference team, was on hand Thursday, and Oakbourne president Kevin Gayle made sure to honor him and his late father Bill Bass, the program’s first coach and one of Oakbourne’s founders.

Gayle also mentioned Sliman’s father Teddy Sliman, who also served as Cajun head coach prior to the younger Bass taking over that position.

“No other program anywhere has this kind of legacy,” said Gayle. “It’s that kind of tradition that forms the structure of this club and our university, and now we have a physical structure for this program that matches its tradition.”

UL president Dr. E. Joseph Savoie joined Don and Brad Mosing, Elston, Sliman, Gayle, Wagner, UL Foundation president Wayne Elmore, Vermilion Links president David Church and UL-Lafayette director of athletics Dr. Bryan Maggard for the official ribbon cutting.

Maggard was one of the recipients of the keys to the facility, and was quick to point out that he is the beneficiary of a lot of work from those who were involved before he took over as AD earlier this year. He specifically thanked former athletics director Scott Farmer, who was also on hand for the ceremony.

“We’ve got some great facilities here,” said Maggard, “and this clubhouse and facility is no exception. This is going to help us recruit premier talent, and help our current student-athletes improve their game and improve themselves.”

Local architect Knobbie Langlinais designed the facility, which matches the traditional Oakbourne clubhouse in exterior design and appearance. John and Buzzy Thompson of Thompson Bros. Construction led the construction crew that brought the facility in on time and under budget.

A lot of people were smiling at that Thursday, but none more than Sliman – who knows better than anyone what the facility can mean to the future of the Cajun program.

“These two buildings represent a tremendous opportunity for our program,” he said. “It’s an opportunity for me to help coach the present and recruit the future. This will give our student-athletes all of the opportunities to achieve their goals and expectations.”

Elston in Southern Am

Speaking of UL, junior-to-be Triston Elston heads for Pinehurst, N.C., this week to take part in the 111th Southern Amateur Championship at the Country Club of North Carolina. The tournament gets underway Wednesday and runs through Saturday.

Elston, a native of Baton Rouge, fired a four-under-par 68 at a sectional qualifier in New Orleans, claiming one of four available spots from the 23-player field. That 68, his low competitive round since joining the Cajun program, tied Elston for medalist honors against a talented field of amateurs from three states and one foreign country.

The Southern Amateur is among the nation’s most respected Amateur events, with a list of former winners including PGA Tour standouts Lanny Wadkins, Ben Crenshaw, Webb Simpson, Justin Leonard, Harris English, Kyle Stanley, Len Mattiace and Michael Bradley.

(“Making the Turn” appears each Wednesday from February-November 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.)