Golf: Acadiana golfers have much to be thankful for + New Signee & Bill Bass Results
Dan McDonald, The Advertiser, Nov. 22, 2017
With Thanksgiving only hours away and the holiday season kicking in, it’s time to remember everything that those of us in the Acadiana golfing community have to be thankful for.
•We have great options for courses. Both of the area’s private clubs, Oakbourne and Le Triomphe, rank among the state’s best layouts and provide uniquely different tests. Both also have tremendous teaching facilities and instructors, and those teaching services are available by arrangement to members and non-members alike. The Farm d’Allie is a stellar layout that ranks among the state’s top daily-fee courses and also has options for discounted memberships.
•We have a set of municipal courses that are the envy of cities our size, and they’re arranged on three different levels. The Wetlands is part of the Audubon Golf Trail and is vastly different from most “muni” layouts found in other areas, along with being heralded as one of the region’s premier municipal courses. Les Vieux Chenes has undergone vast renovations in recent years and remains a solid and reasonably priced course. Hebert Municipal is the breeding ground for many of the area’s top players and provides inexpensive access to the game for everyone, including beginners and junior players.
•Only two cities in Louisiana have a PGA Tour event, and we’re one of them. The Chitimacha Louisiana Open is one of the hallmark events on the PGA Tour’s Web.com Tour and brings world-class golf to the area and to Le Triomphe every March. Hundreds of players with “big” Tour wins, totaling well over 400 PGA Tour championships, have been in the field for the Louisiana Open, and the event provides up-close access to true championship golf at an inexpensive price ($10 for all day). And that doesn’t even include the millions of dollars the Open has raised for charity and youth groups over three decades.
•We have a collegiate golf program at UL that is poised to make big steps in the not-too-distant future. The Ragin’ Cajuns opened a first-ever “home” facility last summer thanks to benefactors who raised $650,000 for construction of a state-of-the-art headquarters and training facility at Oakbourne. Coach Theo Sliman has a squad with no seniors and has already signed the top junior players in Louisiana and Missouri for next season. The Cajuns also host one of the South’s most-respected college tournaments, with the Louisiana Classics returning next March.
•Acadiana has hosted the LHSAA Golf Championships for boys and girls three straight years and will do that again this spring at The Wetlands, The Farm d’Allie and Les Vieux Chenes. All six of Louisiana’s state team champions are crowned here, and it may not be a coincidence that five local squads have taken state titles in that time. In addition, the Acadiana Area High School Golf League provides a spring season for prep players in a sport that doesn’t have district play.
•The Louisiana headquarters for the USGA, the organization that serves golfers across the country with rules, handicapping, championships and overall health of the game, is here in Acadiana. The Louisiana Golf Association’s offices were located in Lafayette when Carr McCalla became the first full-time LGA executive director in 1995, and he served in that role until this year. Now, new executive director Logan Ray and his staff continue to grow and nurture the game through established programs, and through new initiatives that will begin rolling out soon.
•There are great golf businesses and retailers in this area. Golfballs.com, whose main focus is world-wide online sales as the world leader in golf customization and personalization of balls and equipment, has a huge retail center just off Johnston Street and caters to golfers on all levels. The Golf Connection on Pinhook Road has a hugely experienced staff to help with golf equipment, and also offers club fitting and repair.
•We have great weather for golf. There aren’t many places in the country that golfers can hit the course 12 months out of the year. Sure, we get our share of rain, and there are cold snaps, but even in what would be the worst of conditions here, golfers rarely go more than a few days without having a chance to get out and play.
There are likely other reasons for golfers to be thankful in Acadiana. But the most important thing we have to be thankful for is the people — those who work every day in the golf business and related businesses, and who spend a great deal of time and effort to make all of these golf blessings possible.
To all of the professionals that are in those golf shops around the area each and every day … to the superintendents and their staffs who toil hours on end to make their courses the best they can be … to those in city-parish offices and in club manager’s offices who keep the wheels turning and who understand how important golf is to the area … and to those in the support roles in a myriad of areas, all of out here who love the game say a heartfelt “thank you.”
UL’s golf program added its second name to the 2018-19 signee class this week when Shreveport’s Charlie Flynn, the No. 1 ranked recruit in Louisiana, signed a national letter of intent. Flynn holds a 72.31 stroke average this year with nine sub-par rounds and four rounds in the 60s, and has three top-five finishes in AJGA events and ranks 132nd nationally in the Rolex AJGA rankings.
Flynn is a member of two-time state Division I champion Byrd High’s squad and finished fourth individually in last year’s state meet at The Farm d’Allie. He has also competed in the Under Armour/Jordan Spieth Championship, the Bubba Conlee National Junior Tournament, the Press Thornton Future Masters, the Southern Junior Championship and the Dustin Johnson World Junior. He joins Hudson Dubinksi, the No.1 player from Missouri, in this year’s class.
“It’s been fun and exciting recruiting Charlie over the past three years and watching him grow as a player,” said Cajun coach Theo Sliman. “He’s a player that will just continue to develop over the next four years with a very high ceiling ahead.”
Lafayette’s Michael Smith will head to Arizona in two weeks with Web.com Tour provisional status already in his pocket, and with the hopes of making that tour his home for the 2018 season.
Smith was one of 22 players advancing out of the second stage of the tour’s “Q-School” in Plantation, Florida, two weeks ago, and that qualified him to take part in the final stage set for Dec. 7-10 at the Whirlwind Golf Club’s Devils Claw and Cattail courses in Chandler, Arizona.
Smith, who has played in the U.S. Open and has been a regular in the Chitimacha Louisiana Open field, has a chance to earn major playing time on the Web.com Tour with a solid finish in the final stage. Approximately 140 players will be in the final-stage field, 108 who advanced through second stage and nearly three dozen who were exempt to the finals because of finishes on the Tour money list or other tours.
A finish in the top third in that field would guarantee Smith getting into early-season fields when the tour season opens in January with five international events in the Bahamas, Panama, Colombia and Mexico. After that, good finishes will insure continued status through the tour’s “shuffles” for the rest of the season.
“Basically, the higher you finish, the better your chances of getting into events,” Smith said. “Then, if you play well, the shuffle’s not a big deal since the more you play well in tournaments, the more you’ll get into.”
Smith shot 71-66-71-68—277 over the par-71 Plantation course, making the finals field with a stroke to spare after missing out on a final-stage trip in seven previous attempts. Whatever happens in the finals, he holds no worse than conditional Tour status.
“It felt really good, a lot of relief,” Smith said. “I’d gone into the last round a few times in good position, and to be able to break through and play well was a really good feeling.”
Bill Bass Open
A big thanks to all who took part in Friday’s Bill Bass Open, UL’s annual Homecoming golf tournament that helps raise funds for the Ragin’ Cajun golf team. The field for the tournament at Les Vieux Chenes was down from previous years, a trend that has affected most charitable and corporate golf events in recent months, but those who played were able to enjoy one of the traditional Homecoming activities.
Top finishers included the team of Bill and Blake Whittle, Brent Boyd and Drew Alleman, who carded a stellar 47 in the four-person scramble event to take first place team honors. Kellie Murphy, Dan Murphy, Shane Thibodeaux and Stephen Gidman finished second and Ryan Pierret, Kent Pierret, Adam Gulotta and Chad Williams finished third.
Alleman won the putting contest, holing his putt from approximately 70 feet, while Blake Whittle won the long drive contest. Dawn Romero Watson, daughter of long-time Acadiana-area teaching professional Curley Romero and Shane Thibodeaux took closest-to-the-hole honors on the 3rd and 12th holes respectively, and Kelly Chance won the raffle of a customized Ragin’ Cajun golf bag.
The date for next year’s tournament will be set in the spring when UL’s football schedule and Homecoming weekend are finalized.
USSSA Junior Tour
The USSSA Junior Tour will stage its next event this weekend with the annual Gobbler Tournament at Southern Trace in Shreveport on Saturday-Sunday
The event features boys’ and girls’ play in three age groups, with boys and girls age 12-14 and 15-18 divisions playing 18 holes daily and boys and girls 9-11 playing nine holes per day. Deadline to enter is 10 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 21, and more information is available from Robert Boudreaux at (337) 278-8431 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Vieux Chenes Seniors
The team of Glenn Biro, Mike Landry, Whitney Delahoussaye and Brent Culotta combined for a stellar 12-under-par 60 score to take top honors last Thursday in the Vieux Chenes Senior Men’s Golf Association’s second November tournament.
Don Everett, Glenn Morales, Bucky Ware and Terry Dupuis finished second with a 63, Richard Laughlin, Tom Suhrhoff, Ron Breaux and Allen Menard were third at 67 and Aaron Hollier, Patrick Hebert, Raymond Gaudet and Ken Guilbeau finished fourth at 67.
Jay Frederick took closest to the hole honors on the 17th hole.
The group will hold its first December event on Dec. 7 and also plans a tournament just before Christmas on Dec. 21. Registration each week is from 7-7:30 a.m. with play beginning at 8 a.m. The group is open to all senior players, and information on the group is available at Les Vieux Chenes or by calling 837-1159.
“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 email@example.com, FAX to (337) 857-8763 or call (337) 857-8754 and leave a message with phone number.