NATCHITOCHES –After many years of fun for a cause, the grand finale of the Buddy Bonnette Memorial Golf Tournament will take place Saturday, May 19 at Northwestern Hills Golf Course. The final tournament brings a flood of nostalgia to the family, friends and former students of Coach Bonnette, who fondly remember their mentor and his contributions to their personal, academic and athletic development. All are invited back to NSU for the final tournament.
The tournament was originally organized in 2001 as a fund raiser to support the Dr. A.R. “Buddy” Bonnette Endowed Scholarship created in 1998 to benefit NSU students in the Department of Health and Human Performance who aspired to be teachers and coaches like Bonnette. Proceeds also benefitted NSU’s men’s and women’s basketball teams. After Bonnette’s death, the tournament continued to flourish for 17 years. With this final event, the value of the endowed scholarship will exceed $100,000.
According to Bonnette’s son Randy Bonnette, the very first tournament took place on May 28, 2001, his parents’ 50th wedding anniversary and the couple restated their vows that day during lunch. Dr. Vera Roberson Bonnette had a long career as a teacher, principal and clinical professor in the North Louisiana National Reading Improvement Program for Winn, Natchitoches and Ouachita parishes and retired as coordinator of academic skills at NSU. She passed away in 2015.
Another anecdote tells of a misprint on the first tournament’s promotional flyer, which read “Buddy Bonnette Memorial Tournament,” which is the current title.
According to Randy, “Dad was alive and participated in the tournament. The flyer should have read ‘Buddy Bonnette Memorial Day Tournament.’ But, the flier went out, and then mom and we siblings started getting calls of shock and condolences that dad had died. That was actually a humorous incident. However, it foreshadowed dad’s passing seven months later, January 2, 2002, thus he never made it to another event. Yet, mom and his children continued to carry the torch until this Grand Finale in 2018, just like dad would have wanted and expected us to.”
This year’s tournament will begin at 8 a.m. Saturday, May 19 at the NSU Rec Complex. The fee is $100 per person and includes 18 holes of golf, cart and lunch. Sponsoring tees are $50. Donations are welcome.
Dr. Allen R. “Buddy” Bonnette earned a bachelor’s and masters at Northwestern and a doctorate at LSU. He was a coach at Robeline High, Neville High and Springhill High before going to LSU as an assistant basketball coach from 1960 until 1963. In 1963, he joined the faculty at Northwestern in the Department of Health and Physical Education where he taught for 23 years and was director of the graduate program. Bonnette retired as a full-time faculty member in 1986, but taught water safety classes part-time for 12 more years.
Bonnette was given the title of “professor emeritus” in 1995. He also received the Distinguished Service Award from Phi Epsilon Kappa, the Distinguished Faculty Chair from the College of Education, the Mayors’ Award from the City of Natchitoches and the Outstanding Faculty Award. Bonnette was also recognized by the LSU Department of Kinesiology as one of the initial recipients of its Legend of LSU Doctoral Program Awards.
Many of Bonnette’s former students established The Dr. A.R. “Buddy” Bonnette Endowed Scholarship in his honor to benefit students in the Department of Health and Human Performance. He was inducted into the NSU Alumni Hall of Distinction, the Long Purple Line, in 2001.
To register for the final Buddy Bonnette Memorial Golf Tournament or to contribute to the Bonnette Endowed Scholarship, call (318) 357-4414 or visit northwesternalumni.com.