Summer Champion: Scott Hebert
By Kelly Hill
Scott Hebert thought it would be "cool" to win a varsity letter when he was a freshman at Escanaba High School. Knowing that winning such a letter in his favorite sport, baseball, would be most unlikely, Hebert joined the Eskimos' boys golf team.
So, at age 15, Hebert took up the game of golf and he did earn that varsity letter as a freshman at Escanaba High School. Thirteen years later, Hebert won more than a varsity golf letter, he won the state's top golf prize -- the $14,400 winner's share of the $110,000 purse at the Detroit Newspapers Michigan Open.
Now an assistant golf pro at Grand Traverse Resort, Hebert won this year's Michigan Open in June on his home course, The Bear, a par-72 layout that measured more than 6,800 yards for the Open. Smith, 28, not only won the Michigan Open, but he did it in record fashion, finishing 11-under, four strokes ahead of former Open champions David Smith and Tom Gillis.
Playing under almost perfect conditions throughout the week, Hebert opened the Open with a 2-under 70 and trailed another former champion, Steve Brady of Oakland Hills, but just one stroke. A second-round 7-under 65 anchored Hebert's week and put him solidly in control. He finished with third and fourth rounds of 73 and 69 to finish at 70-65-73-69 -- 211. Smith posted a 74-70-68-69 -- 281 and Gillis' card read 73-69-71-68 -- 281.
Throughout Michigan Open week, Hebert was repeatedly asked if he had a home-course advantage. "The other guys in the field have played (The Bear) as often as I have," Hebert said, "but I just have played it more recently. Some things, like the greens, were probably more fresh in my mind. You've still got to hit the shots, though."
While a varsity letter early in his high school career may have been Hebert's motivation for taking up the game of golf, his father, Joe Hebert, played a significant role in his son's development on the golf curse. "My father played a lot and he was a pretty good amateur," Hebert said. "He taught me a lot about golf and he still teaches me a lot."
Superior teaching was obvious during Michigan Open week as Hebert tamed The Bear. "My ball-striking has been real good," he said, "and you've got to do that at The Bear. You've got to let the birdies come to you. You've got to be patient. If you keep hitting the fairways and greens the birdies will come. That's how to play golf, I believe. My dad taught me that you have to be patient when you're playing golf. You've got to let the birdies come to you."
Hebert, who was playing in his third Michigan Open, plans to use a portion of his winner's check to attend PGA qualifying school in mid-October. "I finished 11th in 1995 and I was second in '96," Hebert said of his two previous Open finishes, "so it wasn't a fluke that I won it this year."
For sure, Scott Hebert's win was no fluke. As a former Eskimo, he was fittingly one "cool" customer at The Bear.
In Hebert's Bag:
DRIVER: Callaway Big Bertha; 8-degree loft (recently switched to a titanium Great Big Bertha).
IRONS: Mizuno MP-14 (2-PW)
PUTTER: Wilson 8802
BALL: Titleist 100 Professional
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