On a slightly breezy, overcast day at Willowdale Country Club with the sun just peeking out from behind white cloud cover, the Hahnville High Varsity Golf Team took to the links against E.D. White and Terrebonne high schools, but they approach each contest the same. Like The Three Musketeers, it's all for one, and one for all.
And while the saying may sound cliched, it describes the team's style of play to a 'tee.í The core squad consists of three starters, seniors Derek Bonvillain, Dayton Bordelon and junior Andrew Noto.
While the boys are still in their teens, Noto and Bordelon have been swinging the clubs since about the time they could walk.
Bonvillain, the self-professed baby of the bunch, started about four years ago, but has taken quite a shine to the game which reflects in his poised play.
Bordelon and Noto were both invited to the Tiger Woods Golf Event in 2000 when they were 11 and 10 years old respectively – no small feat for two youngsters.
But they haven't let early success go to their heads. Rooted in strong work ethic on and off the course, all three are excellent students with their choice of colleges to attend.
On top of that, they're just really nice kids.
Bordelonís father started in his early 30s and got him playing at a really young age, he said.
"I like the fact that it's an independent sport, while still being part of a team," Bordelon said. "It's all about what I do out there. I can't rely on another teammate for me to play well."
He plays with a stern look of concentration at all times and has a crushing drive, but at heart he's just a humble young man trying to make his way.
He's got his sights set on Mcneese State for life after high school, but he's keeping his options open and weighing the offers as they come in.
Even though the afternoon didn't quite start out like he had hoped, a strong finish with birdies on three of the final four holes helped him regain confidence on a course he's no stranger to.
His best score he can recall came at Willowdale about a year ago where he shot a 66, a stellar score of 30 over the first nine holes.
Teammate Bonvillain doesn't have quite the experience of his counterparts, but you wouldn't know it by watching him play.
He's a pretty cool customer on the greens, but he shows the most emotion out of the bunch, which for a golfer could simply be a funny lift of the leg after a slice, or just a smirk to say, "yeah, I could have hit that one better," after a drive.
Unlike the outbursts of emotion one expects in a football or basketball game, golfers normally don't share that privilege and it's easy to see that Bonvillain shows tremendous self-restraint on the course, especially when emotion for athletes can equal tremendous catharsis.
His older brother got him into the sport about four years ago, Bonvillain said, which is where he found that he had a true knack for the game.
The independence displayed in golf lured him in and has kept him trotting along.
"Golf is mostly a single person game," Bonvillain said. "You are responsible for everything on your own. Your practice, your play, you do it all by yourself."
Hoping that his golf career doesn't end after high school, he's planning on walking on to the Louisiana Tech golf team, while majoring in chemical engineering.
Being away from home shouldn't be much of a problem for Bonvillain - his best score ever was a 69 at Lake Charles Country club last year.
The squad is rounded out with the youngest of the three in junior Noto, and arguably the best on the team, although you would never catch him saying that.
His stroke and style is reminiscent of a longtime golf veteran, which at 16 he kind of already is.
His dad played collegiate golf at Nicholls State and started Noto out in the trenches at the tender age of two.
His rooting in golf is evident in his play, his stance, his shots, and his attitude towards opposing teams.
He makes small talk with the opposing players, always tells them nice shot when he sees one and simply plays with class, as do all his teammates.
Like his team, he finds the independence of the game its greatest asset.
"I played baseball for a long time, but with golf it's different," Noto said. "When you lose, it's your fault."
He's hoping to play division I golf, but hasn't determined where just yet. With a straight A average, his options are looking pretty solid both academically and athletically.
"Coach always says school first," Noto said. Those are words he takes to heart and feels if he can use his skill at golf to get a great education, he's going to do it.
Even with so much on his plate, Noto doesn't let the pressure get to him.
His best score ever was in a qualifying round where he shot a 67 at Oak Horn just this past summer.
Hahnville Coach Ronnie Cantrelle has the utmost faith in his guys arriving at the halfway point of this season, he said, and would like to bring the state championship to St. Charles Parish.
"We came up just a little short last year, ending up runners-up in State," Cantrelle said. "We have a really good shot of being there again and winning this time."
The big test comes April 24 during the boys regional at Willowdale Country Club.
Approximately 10 boy's teams will participate with the top 4 qualifying for state.
The top 15 individual scores also qualify for state play, Cantrelle said, so his boys have two ways to get in.
Regardless of the outcome, Cantrelle said he's proud of his team and truly thinks they are all special individuals and just plain good people.
To end on another clichť, the apple doesn't fall far from the tree in that respect.
|Photo by Caleb Frey|
|HHS Golfer Andrew Noto|