LITCHFIELD — Conor Drouin was fashionably late when his freshman golf season began four years ago.

He missed the first few days of practice during the 2011 season amid confusion over when practices started. Coach Michael Pelletier didn’t know what he had when the 5-foot-5 freshman finally did attend practices, so decided to take it slow and put him in a junior varsity match against St. Dominic Academy at Fox Ridge, the Saints’ home course.

The difficult course led to high scores among the varsity players, but that’s where Drouin made up for showing up late at the beginning of season.

“My best score that day was a 48 probably,” Pelletier said of the varsity golfer. “Conor comes in and shoots a 43 playing in a JV match. I was like, wait a second, I might have something here.”

After that match, Pelletier slotted Drouin into the No. 3 slot in the varsity rotation and finished undefeated the rest of the season. It was also the first time Oak Hill qualified for the MPA Team Championships. By the end of his sophomore campaign, he was the team’s No. 1 golfer.

While he had successful first year he still didn’t know what to expect.

“It was actually pretty nerve-wracking,” Drouin said. “I mean, like you said with that match, it actually woke me up, like, ‘Whoa, I am in varsity, I need to start playing.’ It was actually fun and I loved it.

Now, the 6-foot-3 senior is looking for another top ten finish in the state individual tournament, where he shot a 77 last year at Natanis in Vassalboro.

Golf is in Drouin’s blood.

“I have been playing golf with my grandfather ever since I was a little kid,” Drouin said. “I think that helped my game out really well. I just used to wake up and wanted to play golf every day. I slept with my golf clubs at night. I think I put in the effort this year.”

This season, the Raiders didn’t have the depth like in years past, which put a lot more weight on Drouin and sophomore Cohen Donnell’s shoulders as the team’s top two golfers this season.

“They really had to perform for us to even have a chance to win,” Pelletier said. “They knew if they didn’t shoot in the low 40s, that we really didn’t have a chance.”

Pelletier said that also took a toll on Drouin, the lone senior, because he wanted to lead the team. When he would have a bad hole during his rounds this year, he would typically bounce back and shoot a 38 or a 39.

“It was hard for me to focus because I was putting so much pressure on myself,” Drouin said. “(Pelletier) always comes over and tells me, ‘Try to shoot par, come on, stay in there.’ It’s like, alright coach I have to slow down. I was going 100 miles-per-hour.”

Pelletier said Drouin is a very good ball-striker and can hit the ball a long way. He has recently struggled with his putting, and that has been frustrating him.

“I have spent every hour putting at my house,” Drouin said. “I try to put so much effort into it.”

With Oak Hill not qualifying for the team championships this past weekend at Natanis, Drouin is rested for the individual championships compared to some of the golfers who competed last week. It also means he has one less round under his belt at Natanis.

“Last year, playing the week before helped him because he got to see the course before,” Pelletier said. “He didn’t play particularly well, I don’t remember what he shot, but that next week, he had a good week of practice. He kind of peaked at the right time. We got the right day for him to go play and he had a great round. It helped him finish (tied for) fifth in Class B. This year we are hoping to do the same thing.”

They had a practice round at Natanis on Monday, where he shot an 80. The Class B tournament will be held on the Tomahawk course. They are hoping Drouin can improve on Monday’s score and have another round in the mid-70s.

For Pelletier, who has been coaching Drouin the past four years, this week is bittersweet, as it’s the last week he will be Drouin’s high school coach.

“It’s definitely tough on me,” Pelletier said. “I have seen him grow being less than 5-5 to now he’s 6-3. It’s great to see him grow into a nice young man.”

Pelletier has helped Drouin in every aspect of his game, and also off the course.

“Michael feels like a second father to me,” Drouin said. “I love that guy and I know he loves me and we bonded together. We are best golfing (buddies), we come out here and have fun every day.”

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