After 10 years at the helm of the Lovell Bulldog golf program, Coach Ben Fowler has moved to Nevada to take a new position with Haliburton, leaving behind a program he has built into a state power.
Fowler took over the helm of the program in 2002 after the team had gone through a few coaches in recent years.
“I didn’t want to see the program fail,” he said. “I hope it takes off now and continues. We’ve come too far in 10 years. The program is well-known throughout the state.
“You get to know a lot of different coaches. I remember my first meet at Worland. They said the tee time was 10 a.m., and I showed up (with the team) at 9:45. They peeled my butt. They thought I was the dumbest sucker who ever walked through the door. I quickly learned to arrive around an hour to an hour and a half before the tee time.”
Over the years, Fowler has coached the Bulldog boys to two state Class 2A championships and two second-place finishes. He has coached two state champions in Luke Harrison (twice) and Jared Cribbs.
Fowler’s record has been a successful one:
2002 – Boys fourth at State, Tim Schmidt seventh individually.
2003 – Boys second at State, Schmidt fifth, Casey Trautman 10th.
2004 – Boys first at State, Luke Harrison first, Schmidt second, Trautman fifth.
2005 – Boys first at State, Harrison first, Schmidt second, Hadley Fowler fifth, Jared Cribbs seventh; Amy Asay sixth for the girls team.
2006 – Boys third at State, Cribbs first, Fowler eighth; Lacee Bischoff 10th.
2007 – Boys seventh at Class 3A State.
2008 – Boys 13th in Class 3A, Evan Frost second.
2009 – Boys third, back in 2A, Frost fourth; Mason Fowler seventh.
2010 – Boys second at State, Cody King sixth; Fowler seventh.
2011 – Boys third at State, King sixth, Chase Tippetts and Brandon Wolvington ninth; Alyssa Geiser fourth, Jordan Frost fifth.
“The best thing has been the kids,” Fowler said, “watching them develop. I see them come in pretty raw as freshmen and turn into top-10 finishers. That’s quite an accomplishment. I wish I could go through and name every one who meant something to me.”
After finishing his 10th season at the state tournament in Kemmerer, Fowler quietly slipped away to his new job with Haliburton. He worked as the maintenance supervisor for Haliburton’s Bentonite Performance Minerals plant east of Lovell for many years, then had the opportunity to become a plant manager for Haliburton Energy Services at the company’s barite grinding plant in Dunphy, Nev., west of Elko.
Fowler said that while bentonite is a volcanic ash that is used to provide lubrication in a drilling hole, barite is a mineral, a solid that holds the drill bit and shaft in place in the hole.
In Nevada, Fowler is overseeing a $42 million expansion of the plant at Dunphy, with the plant capacity increasing from 204,000 to 606,000 tons of barite per year. His first day in his new position was Oct. 16, he said.
Fowler lives in Spring Creek, Nev., southeast of Elko, and will be joined by his wife, Karen, at the end of March. He said a new home is being built for the couple and their kids Hadley and Mason, when they visit.
The family will continue to own a home at 729 Shoshone in Lovell, where Karen’s father, Ray Snell, lives.
“Someday we’ll be back,” said Fowler, 44. “This is always home. I see this as a career move. We’ll see where the wind blows us.”
By David Peck