July 18, 2022 - 1:52 pm
Updated July 18, 2022 - 7:58 pm
You’ll have to excuse Jean-Paul Hebert if he’s taking a little time getting to Las Vegas. His roots in Texas run extremely deep.
Hebert is tying up loose ends in the Lone Star state, the place he’s called home most of his life, before heading west to become just the third coach in UNLV men’s golf history.
It marks the first top job for Hebert, who has spent his playing and assistant coaching career at Texas in a program that has enjoyed overwhelming success. A national championship this past season on top of another one in 2012. Runner-up finishes in 2016 and 2019, and top-five finishes in 2015 and 2018.
Along the way, he’s coached Scottie Scheffler, Jordan Spieth and Dylan Frittelli among his nine All-Americans.
Hebert believes the Rebels can have similar success.
“UNLV golf can be one of those programs with a national identity because of all the factors it has going for it,” Hebert said. “A history of good teams, a great golf community, good weather, facilities and lots of great courses. It’s a place where there are a lot of positives.”
Hebert isn’t worried about moving from a major conference like the Big 12 to the Mountain West. That’s because of the nature of golf, a sport in which teams compete in tournaments against a wide range of schools.
He noted that in the past several years between seven and nine of the 30 teams in the NCAA Tournament were from non-Power 5 schools. One of those, Pepperdine, won the title two years ago.
“This team can be very competitive,” he said of UNLV.
Since being named coach in late June, Hebert has spent time texting and talking with current players, a list topped by junior Caden Fioroni, who earned an at-large invitation to the NCAA regionals this past season, and Aaron Jarvis. A sophomore from the Cayman Islands, Jarvis won the Latin American Amateur last winter and earned invitations to the Masters and British Open, where he was one of four amateurs to make the cut last week at St. Andrews.
“I’m getting to know the guys,” Hebert said. “I’m slowly getting to know their games, but more importantly them as people.”
Hebert said learning about them as individuals and getting to know their families are key to building a cohesive unit.
While he promises a new feel and style for the program, Hebert clearly wants to honor the past. With Michael “Chub” Drakulich and Dwaine Knight as the program’s only coaches over the past 50, years, it’s important to lean into that history.
“It says a lot about the program, and it speaks volumes about the community,” he said of coaching longevity in the men’s and women’s programs.
UNLV is thrilled to have him.
“Jean-Paul is committed to excellence in the classroom, on the course and in the community, and we look forward to him leading our Rebel golf program to championships,” athletic director Erick Harper said in announcing his hiring. “The future of Rebel golf is very bright.”
Hebert brings a legacy of his own to Las Vegas. He grew up in Houston, the son of Jay Hebert, the 1960 PGA champion and 1971 U.S. Ryder Cup captain. His uncle, Lionel Hebert, was the 1957 PGA champion.
After playing junior golf, he headed to Austin, where he teamed with Justin Leonard to win four consecutive Southwest Conference titles for Texas and a runner-up finish in the 1994 NCAA championship. He was an All-American three times. After graduation, he headed into a golf career that eventually landed in coaching.
There was never any doubt that would happen, he said.
“All of my life, all of my connections have all come through the game,” he said. “Golf is what I know. It’s what I’m made of.”
Greg Robertson covers golf for the Review-Journal. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.