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Spirit of Acadiana: The golf professional who dared to dream

Posted at 7:25 PM, Mar 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-26 20:25:27-04

At Lafayette Municipal Golf Course, well, about 40 years ago, there was a young boy from a tough neighborhood, who looked through the fence that runs along the perimeter, and he dreamed of crossing the barrier. His name? Chris Arceneaux.

"Home,” says Arceneaux, as he looks over at his old house on Perishing Street. “I was just a kid looking in from that porch, man, just trying to figure out how I was going to get there. How I was going to get to this place; I had no clue."

Golf balls, many of them mine I bet, were fired over that fence across Louisiana Avenue, and Arceneaux saw that as a business opportunity. “I was making an honest living,” laughs Arceneaux. “I was cutting grass and selling golf balls. 25-cents a golf ball!"

The challenges were right in front of him. As a child of the seventies and a teen in the eighties, Arceneaux says he knew a number of people who succumbed to drugs and crime, and went down decidedly different paths.

"I remember being ambushed by one of the local pushers. 'Why are you doing this? They not gonna let you play', he told me. I lost a lot of friends, a lot family. Golf was my safe haven.”

He started working at the course, began playing and learning the sport, captained the Northside golf team, went to college and moved away. Arceneaux succeeded in golf, in sales, in other businesses and golf management again. But after 25 years away, Arceneaux came back to Acadiana just after the pandemic hit. As luck, fate, and divine intervention would have it, there was an opening at his old course.

"I'm fighting the tears right now,” adds Arceneaux. “I just wanted to get on the inside. I went from the cart boy to the head pro. That's a pretty amazing story."

And he recalls an inspirational message from his mother. "Speaking to my mom. she once told me, 'You can be that kid in the magazine'. I would sit on our front porch, looking at those magazine. Who would ever think? Cart boy to head pro."

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