Cenla-ian of the Year: Scott Brame

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Very few people in their sunset years get to recreate a euphoria they felt in their youth while playing a sport, let alone getting the opportunity to pass that passion on to a new generation. But Scott Brame, the board president of the Friends of Bringhurst Golf, is such a man.  After a two-year involvement with helping to restore Bringhurst Golf Course in Alexandria, Brame was able to tee off last year on the greens he played on as a 9-year-old boy.  “There is no way to describe really how I felt. It was euphoric,” Brame recalls, describing the emotions pulsing through him that memorable day last year as he teed off for the first time after the renovation of the golf course.  And this summer, he is spearheading an effort to open the world of golf to youth who might not otherwise have the opportunity to learn the sport.

For his recent efforts and for his other outstanding community works, this month Brame has been named the 2011 Cenla-ian of the Year by Cenla Focus magazine and a panel of community leaders. The Cenla-ian of the Year award is reserved for a select few who exemplify noteworthy leadership qualities and who “give back” to area communities.  “I am very flattered with this honor, but I don’t feel the need for any special recognition. I’ve been doing exactly what I have wanted to do [with the community projects], and that is enough reward,” Brame says.

For someone who downplays awards and who shuns the limelight, his name keeps popping up for various recognitions. The Alexandria Historical Society recently honored Brame with a Preservationist award for his efforts in bringing about the restoration of Bringhurst Golf Course, which was originally designed in the 1920s. Because of the fundraising campaign efforts of the Friends of Bringhurst Golf, about $80,000 was raised to completely rebuild the tees and greens of the course.  “The golf course has the same shape of the original design with 9-holes,” Brame says.

The Friends of Bringhurst Golf are sponsoring a summer program for children 8 to 15 years old. The youth will have the opportunity to learn golf, free of charge, at Bringhurst Golf Course on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, starting the first week of June. For two months, youth participating in the summer program will be given lessons from 8:30am to 12:00noon at the municipal golf course.  “This is a brand-new program for boys and girls. It is free, and we will provide all the equipment they need to play golf, including the clubs and golf balls. The youth will be able to play golf and get professional instruction. We hope the young people will take advantage of Bringhurst and play,” Brame explains.

Bringhurst Golf Course, located at 2822 Masonic Drive next to the Alexandria Zoo, is popularly known as the nation’s oldest par three course. During the summer program, Coach Richard Hunter, Alexandria Senior High’s golf coach, and Chuck Spears, one of ASH’s state golf champions, will be helping to teach golf to the youth.  “I’m very excited about this youth program. Bringhurst Golf Course is now in wonderful condition, and it is an ideal course for beginners who want to play golf and not be intimidated. There is nothing like it in the state. It is very unique, and that is one reason we wanted to preserve it. The Alexandria City Council agreed to let us restore the golf course,” Brame explains.

According to Brame, the Trotter family had leased Bringhurst Golf Course from the city since the 1950s, and had kept the grounds up. But the Jamie Trotter family gave up the family lease on the course in 2006, and the golf course closed at that time. The city-owned course’s greens and tees deteriorated as the course sat idle for years. In 2008, Brame, along with one of his sons, Michael, and his nephew, Frank, initiated talks with the city to see about renovating the golf course. After the city council’s approval, Brame set up a six-member board called Friends of Bringhurst Golf Course. Brame still serves as the board president, but adds all the members were instrumental in helping to raise funding for the golf course renovation and continued maintenance. Frank Brame serves as the board vice president. Brenner Sadler, an attorney, is the board secretary. Clifford Mohler, the executive director of the Greater Alexandria Economic Development Authority, businessman Willie Spears and City Councilman Chuck

Fowler also serve on the board. Jarrett Watson, the course superintendent at The Links, oversaw the restoration of Bringhurst from a professional standpoint.  “All these board members played golf at Bringhurst as a child, and we all think the course is now a thing of beauty, like a piece of art. It is a wonderful course,” Brame adds.

Today, in addition to the summer program, Bringhurst Golf Course is once again open to the public Thursday through Sunday from 9:00am to 7:00pm. The course, surrounded by majestic Oak trees, is roughly 800 yards long, compared to a standard-size golf course of about 7,000 yards long. Participating in the restoration of the beloved golf course has given Brame and other golfers like him a good dose of nostalgia.  “The restoration of the course was a very important thing in our lives, and it is great to see it functioning again. We hope we can serve some youth in this new program, and do something good for them,” Brame, who is 83 years old, notes.

When he is not practicing his golf swing, Brame stays active with his family, church, community organizations and various boards he serves on. He is married to the former Mary Ann Kelley of Alexandria. The couple has six children and nine grandchildren. A Bolton High School graduate, Brame, earned his accounting degree from Louisiana State University A&M in Baton Rouge. After college graduation, he began his work career in 1949 as an “unclassified trainee” with Central Louisiana Electric Company (CLECO).

By 1988, Brame had been promoted to the chief executive officer at CLECO. In 1993, Brame retired as CLECO’s chairman of the board and CEO. To honor Brame’s long service to CLECO, the company established the Scott Brame endowed chair in finance at Louisiana State University at Alexandria. An advocate of life-long education, Brame served on the Louisiana Board of Regents, which has jurisdiction over the state’s higher education, for 12 years. In addition, he served on the LSUA Foundation, Menard High School Board, St. Francis Cabrini Hospital Board and St. Mary’s Children’s Home. He currently is active with the Catholic Foundation of North Central Louisiana, the Central Louisiana Community Foundation and the Community HealthWorx, which provides free doctor, dental and pharmaceutical care to needy families.

Throughout the decades, numerous civic and community organizations across the state have benefited from Brame’s commitment to serving others. His current community involvement is vast and diverse. He has been honored by multiple organizations and the recipient of many awards, including the Lion’s Club Citizenship Award, Outstanding Young Man of the Year by the Lafayette Jaycees and the Arthritis Award from the YWCA. Yet through it all, Brame has maintained a humble dignity, and is quick to shine the spotlight toward others.  “When it really comes down to it,” Brame notes, “volunteer work is extremely important. It is what makes a good community a great place to live.”