PACIFIC PALISADES, Calif. – Campbell is not considered a golf powerhouse, but Vaita Guillaume would like to change that.
The senior just finished his appearance as an individual at the Division I Championships and it was the first time in several years the small school near Raleigh, North Carolina has sent someone to the season-ending event. Guillaume is also the first Campbell player to reach the NCAA Regionals three times and first to earn four tournament victories in a season.
Not bad for someone who had to hire an agency to send his resume in the attempt to attract the attention of college golf coaches.
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Guillaume was born and lived most of his life in Papeete, Tahiti. After graduating high school a year early, he moved to France to try and become a professional golfer. After two years he realized that dream would have to wait and he wanted to go to college and play golf as well as get an education.
“I thought I would turn professional then but it didn’t work out,” Guillaume said. “I wanted an opportunity to go to a university and get my degree.”
The only problem was he had no idea where to start. College admissions are daunting enough for someone in the United States who is vaguely familiar with the process. Guillaume wanted to play golf, but he was unfamiliar with how to contact universities in the United States.
“Coming from Europe you have no clue unless you have a lot of friends who have done this,” Guillaume said. “So the agency definitely helps.”
The agency charged Guillaume about $3,000 to send a resume of his golf accomplishments to different schools. According to Guillaume it was money well spent.
“It was definitely worth the money,” he said. “It’s an investment and I think it paid off. In France now you have a lot of French people coming over but when I started I was one of the few.”
The agency got interest from several schools, including Campbell head coach John Crooks.
“Coach Crooks gave me a call and made me an offer,” Guillaume said. “We looked at the area and the facility. I’ve never flown to the east side of the United States but we figured it would be a good spot for me to end up in.”
It certainly has turned out that way. Guilluame had success almost immediately in his freshman year and made his first Regionals appearance, though failed to reach the Championships. He got another chance his junior year but finished middle of the pack at Regionals. This year he was determined to get to the Championships and finished tied for first with two other players, Robert Karlsson of Liberty and Matt Schovee of SMU. Karlsson already qualified with his team, so Schovee and Guillaume went to the 10th hole for a sudden death playoff.
Fortunately for Guillaume it was a par 4. The senior led the nation in par 4 scoring average at 3.97 and his par was enough to advance to the Championships.
“It is satisfying to get here, definitely,” Guilluame said. “Especially after a year like I had I wanted to play against the best competition.”
Now with his collegiate career complete, he feels ready to play professionally and now has more confidence having spent time at a U.S. college program.
The benefits have not been one-sided. Guilluame has brought attention to a small university that will gain more attention because of his accomplishments.
“I think I have represented the college well,” he said. “At first you think you aren’t playing the best tournaments because we are a small university but hopefully with what I showed this year the program is going to get bigger. I have heard that we have been invited to a couple of big events next year so hopefully it is headed the right way.”