By George Ferguson
I have known Trent Normandy for the better part of the last six years. I first met Trent at one the one place you can always find him in the summer - Beaver Creek Golf Course.
At that time he was a short and very skinny seventh-grader who was employed to pick range balls. Little did I know that six years later, I would be able to trace Normandy's success on the golf course all the way back to that first summer that I met him.
One of things that I learned about Trent from the very beginning is that he was good at golf. It didn't take long for his skills to blow past my own meager golf game.
He had the attitude that so very few people who have truly learned to play the game possess. That attitude, at least on the golf course, is one that toes the line somewhere between confidence and cockiness.
But what most people don't understand about golfers is that the truly gifted ones - like Normandy - have the right to be confident or even arrogant.
To say that golf is difficult would be drastically understating the obvious. That is why really good players have that right to be confident.
They have learned to do something that so few of us can, but so many million of us try. And that is why I was so surprised when talking with Trent after he had just captured the 2003 boys Class A state golf championship this past weekend in Polson.
You see, Normandy was very happy and proud of his accomplishments as he should be, but what surprised me the most, was how humble and reflective he was at the same time.
"I am very happy with what I did at the state tournament," Normandy said. "I have worked hard for this for four years and I am really glad that it all worked out."
And right after Normandy finished talking about what he had accomplished in Polson, he went right back to giving credit to so many other people for what he did in one of the loneliest, most individualized sports there is.
"There were a lot of people that have helped me out through the years and I probably wouldn't have done this if I didn't know those guys," Normandy said. "But especially Coach Evenson. He has really helped me more than anyone and I couldn't have asked for a better coach through all of this."
Former teammates have also helped Normandy get to the top of the Class A mountain in his final high school tournament.
This wasn't Trent's first rodeo so to speak. He has been a varsity player for all four years of high school and has been part of a golfing dynasty of sorts in Havre.
As a freshmen and sophomore, Normandy was part of back-to-back Class A team titles at Havre, while earning all-state honors both seasons. Those teams included former HHS golf standouts Nick Obie and Jason Johnstone, along with solid players like Kevin Harada and Troy Toner.
"Playing on those teams and playing with those guys helped me out a lot," Normandy said. "I owe a lot to Nick Obie because he taught me how to really work on my game. He showed me that staying after to practice and spending time hitting balls on the range was just as important, if not more important, than just going out and playing nine holes of golf."
"Those guys were all great golfers. Guys like Kevin Harada who could have easily played college golf, it was real easy to be around those guys and I learned so much from all of them."
Indeed, humble words from someone who is currently probably the best golfer that actually resides in Havre. But it isn't hard to figure out how someone who is so good at such an individual sport could be so grounded.
Normandy may have spent a good portion of his life on the golf course, but he has also spent a significant amount of time on the playing fields, excelling at other team sports.
In a couple of months, Normandy will shift his focus to basketball where he will start at shooting guard for the Ponies for the second-straight season. He is also a standout pitcher in the Havre legion baseball program.
All of that, to go along with being an significant part of four of the best golf teams that Havre High has ever had.
And however grateful Normandy is for all of the help and support he has received from family, coaches and teammates, don't think for one second that Normandy's killer instinct and belief in his abilities on the golf course will fade anytime soon.
That much was evident in how he explained those final few holes on Polson last Saturday afternoon.
"I had a good lead and it kind of slipped away on me," Normandy said. "I was playing with Foust (William Foust of Ronan, who Normandy had to beat in a sudden death playoff hole) and I knew where we stood. But I was determined to win. and I knew going into the playoff hole that I was gonna make birdie. I just had a good feeling about it that I could end it right there."
That is what I have grown to love about Trent over the years. He is a good person, a good teammate and one hell of a golfer, who has that rare ability to hit a little tiny ball with a little metal stick and be very precise about it. And he has the confidence to physically and mentally back it up.
Trent tells me that he is probably going to continue his golfing career at Miles City Community College next fall, joining former HHS standout Jason Johnstone. If that is the path that Trent chooses in his life, hopefully he will continue it with the same class and confidence that he has had since I met him all those summers ago.