BY NICK CLARK
The sand came first, and then the ball. A few seconds later, the bottom of the cup on the 220-yard, par-3 eighth on the West Course at Bunker Hills in Coon Rapids followed.
It was a shot Osseo senior Dalton Charboneau will look back on as possibly the best he hit in his nearly six years as a varsity mainstay with the Orioles.
The only problem was it wasn’t his last.
Charboneau chipped in for birdie on what was his 17th hole played during the final round of the Class 3A boys state golf tournament June 13. At the time, it dropped his score deeper into the red, as he headed to the 18th tee at 2-under for the round.
A par on the final hole would have guaranteed him a tie for fourth in the tournament. A birdie would have pushed his finish to third.
"I was trying to be heroic," Charboneau would say later. "I really wanted to try and make birdie on the last and get to 3-under. But I didn’t play the hole very smart."
Charboneau hooked his drive on the 18th in the left rough, then watched as his attempt to, as he put it, "blast it through the trees," thumped off an oak tree 50 or so yards from where he was hitting.
Eventually, Charboneau found the top side of the green and three-putted for a double-bogey six. Goodbye third, and fourth for that matter.
Hello sixth, and surprisingly, hello happiness as well.
"I’m not that upset, really," he said. "Should I have played that last hole smarter? Probably. But I’m still happy to come here and finish sixth. I wanted to be in the top-10, and I did that. I can’t be upset."
In reality, there was little reason to be. Charboneau played in what was the marquee foursome on the final day of his high school career, teeing off with Chaska’s Jon Dutoit, Lakeville North’s Freddy Thomas and Waconia’s Matt Rachey in a group that had at least 100 followers much of the afternoon.
Dutoit, who finished with a 3-under, 69 on the first day, came back to shoot 73 to finish with a two-day total of 142, which tied him with Moorhead’s Ben Welle for Class 3A individual honors.
Thomas went 74-69 to finish at 143 and alone in third, while Rachey ended up 72-72 to card an even-par 144 to place fourth.
Charboneau entered the round after finishing with a 74 on the first day of the tournament, and despite the double on his last, came back with an even-par 72 to give him a two-day total of 146 and a sixth-place medal to accompany the drive home he made with the throng of family and friends that made their way to Bunker Hills for the day.
For the better part of six hours, they watched closely as Charboneau tried tirelessly to make up ground on Dutoit, only to watch as the Chaska senior found fairways, greens and eventually enough birdies to win.
"He hit fairways, he hit greens, and he made putts," said Charboneau of Dutoit. "You want to try and make a run at him, but he played so solid that it just made it tough to make anything up. We had a huge crowd, and that really makes you want to hit a good shot to get that cheer. He got a lot of cheers."
The loudest, however, was reserved for Charboneau. He hit his first shot on the 17th into the front, greenside bunker, but then made perfect contact from the sand.
"It was going right towards the hole, and it just caught the left side and snuck in," said Charboneau. "To do it on that hole, and at that time of the tournament, it was really exciting."
There will be plenty more excitement to follow. He’s heading to the University of Southern Illinois next year to play college golf, and if qualifying goes well, he will be playing in as many as 10 various summer tournaments in the next three weeks before joining the Salukis in the fall.
He’ll also be doing it all after completing what Osseo golf coach Tim Theisen called arguably the greatest prep career in school history.
Charboneau played his first varsity match as a seventh-grader, and was in the state tournament by the end of his ninth-grade year.
He would return to state as a junior, leading up to a senior season that saw him win five times and finish sixth in a state tournament field that was considered tougher than the one he played in the year prior.
Not bad for a guy who spent most of his career playing with a body that was a full foot shorter than most of his competitors.
"There is nothing impressive about his height, or his length off of the tee, but he just gets the job down with his golf game," Theisen said. "He cemented himself as one of the best players we’ve ever had. Sixth place in the state tournament is nothing to be disappointed about, and he isn’t disappointed. He played well. That last hole was unfortunate, but up until then, he was 2-under in the final round of the state tournament. That’s a tremendous accomplishment."
While Charboneau was putting the wraps on a top-10 finish, sophomore teammate Dayton Federley was being reminded of just how tough it is to play at the state tournament level.
Federley ended up finished in a tie for 48th place after shooting 78-81 for a two-day total of 159.
Federley four-putted the first green during his final round. He would sink a winding putt on the par-5, fourth hole, but all that did was save bogey.
His lone birdie of the day came on the 380-yard, par-4 16th.