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UL golf facility receives special gift

Dan McDonald, The Advertiser, Feb. 21, 2018


Renowned New Iberia artist Jerome Weber (second from right) presented a painting to the UL golf program to be hung in the Ragin’ Cajuns’ new facility at Oakbourne Country Club. Shown with the artwork are (from left) UL athletic director Bryan Maggard, Cajun golf coach Theo Sliman and Oakbourne head PGA professional Cliff Wagner. (Photo: Brad Kemp/RaginCajuns.com, Brad Kemp/RaginCajuns.com)

The number of golf facilities that can brag on having a Jerome Weber “original” painting adorning a wall is extremely limited.

One of them is Erin Hills in Wisconsin, which hosted last summer’s U.S. Open and now has a painting of its iconic clubhouse hanging in its dining room, courtesy of the New Iberia artist.

“That’s what I started doing first, painting golf courses originally,” Weber says. “But there’s not too much of a market for just golf courses.”

That limited market makes his golf works more special, and that small number now includes UL’s new golf facility located on the Oakbourne Country Club grounds. Just this week, Weber donated a unique work of art to the Ragin’ Cajun program, one that will hang in the building that now serves as “home” for the UL squad.

“This is a special facility, and now it’s even more special,” said Cajun coach Theo Sliman, who joined UL athletic director Bryan Maggard in accepting the painting Monday. “It’s really special when we have someone with that kind of talent who has a connection with our program and our university.”

Weber, a native of New Iberia and long-time friend of former Cajun coach — and Theo’s father — Teddy Sliman, has become a celebrated painter in less than a decade. He didn’t pick up a brush until 2009, when he was  looking for an avenue to reduce stress from his position as the local president for Regions Bank.

“I needed some stress relief,” he said. “I could always draw, and when I sat down and started painting, it was always just complete relaxation. I started doing landscapes and figure painting, I started selling some of them and people started liking them, and I guess I got a little better and better.”

His works now hang in a variety of locations, both across Acadiana and Louisiana and in other locations. His work was featured in the Governor’s Mansion during Bobby Jindal’s final term, but golf has always been a passion since he and the elder Sliman played together often and traveled together extensively to fuel that passion.

“When they built this new facility, I wanted to give them something,” said Weber, who now serves as senior vice president for Community First Bank. “I went to UL, my wife and my daughter went to UL, and I wanted to do something for them that would be different from posters and pictures.”

His work that will soon hang in the building is both alike and different. It looks strikingly similar to the most iconic photo in golf history, the shot of Ben Hogan hitting a 1-iron at Merion in the 1950 U.S. Open, which also hangs in the younger Sliman’s office in the building.

The painting, though, features the younger Sliman and a Cajun golfer hitting his second shot up the fairway on Oakbourne’s memorable 18th hole. Weber came to Oakbourne in October and took photos of Sliman and Cajun junior Triston Elston at several locations.

“I knew what I wanted to do because I’ve played Oakbourne a lot,” Weber said. “I wanted the oak trees. A lot of my paintings have oak trees in them. I admired George Rodrigue and how he always had the blue dog, so whenever I get a chance I put oak trees in. I really wanted to get that second shot up 18, kind of like Hogan’s 1-iron. In my mind, I knew that picture.”

The major difference is that the artwork was not created on a canvas, and instead was created on a sheet of aluminum.

“It’s more slippery and it doesn’t have the ‘bite’ that canvas does,” Weber said, “but you can get some effects you don’t get on a canvas. I used an orange colored wash, almost like a primer, and then refined it. It took about three weeks because you have to let each one of the layers dry, especially on aluminum, before you start bringing in the other colors.”

The focal points of Sliman and the player came first.

“If you don’t get that right, the rest of the painting won’t work,” Weber said. “Once I had them like I wanted, I could get the colors in and started working my way from the background and the green. As you get to the front, you get a lot warmer look.”

Sliman said that “look” will be on display beginning this weekend when the Cajuns welcome 14 other college teams for the 33rd annual Louisiana Classics at Oakbourne.

“We’re very honored by this, more than we can say,” Sliman said. “It’s something uniquely us, something that nobody else has.”

“I wanted to give them something they could hang and be proud of,” Weber said. “I hope they like it.”

Chip Shots

Louisiana Classics

Speaking of the Louisiana Classics, the 33rd renewal of one of the South’s premier collegiate events is set for Sunday-Tuesday at Oakbourne. A 15-team field includes four teams ranked in the nation’s top 31 squads — Texas A&M at No. 4, Illinois at No. 12, Louisville at No. 30, and Kent State at No. 31 — along with five other top-100 teams in the 15-team field that includes Mississippi State, Southern Miss, Rice, Toledo, Texas State, Sam Houston State, Missouri-Kansas City, Texas-San Antonio, UL-Monroe and McNeese.

Championship play is set for 8 a.m. Monday with two shotgun-start rounds and a final 18 holes beginning with 7:30 a.m. tee times on Tuesday over the 7,141-yard par-72 layout. Tournaments events begin at 12:30 p.m. Sunday with the College-Am event with local players pairing up with the collegians, followed by an awards dinner at 6 p.m.

The Louisiana Classics was among the nation’s first college tournaments to be streamed online with live action, and that continues for the fifth year with play from the 9th and 18th holes and live commentary airing on ragincajuns.com and the Ragin’ Cajun Digital Network beginning at 8 a.m. Monday and at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday.

Mid-Week Reminder

As listed in last week’s “Making the Turn,” special rates are now in effect for mid-week play at each of Lafayette’s three municipal golf courses.

On Wednesdays and Thursdays after noon, players receive a $30 green-fee-and-cart rate at The Wetlands and a $25 green-fee-and-cart rate at both Les Vieux Chenes and Hebert Municipal. That fee is almost half the cost of The Wetlands’ normal $57 weekly rate for fee and cart and the regular $44 combined rate at LVC and Hebert.

Players may call for after-noon tee times, but so far tee times are not required to take advantage of the special rates.

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.