Chloe Baylor ’23 let out a yell in the back corner of Ladd library when her coach called her with the big news: she was the first female golfer from Bates to ever qualify for the NESCAC Women’s Golf Spring Championship.
Baylor, from Lincoln, Nebraska, was the only member of the team to compete in the qualifiers, which took place in Williamstown on Oct. 5-6.
Although she has only been golfing since the 9th grade, Baylor has quickly excelled to be one of the best golfers on the women’s team. She initially started golfing because of her dad’s love for the sport.
“I’ve always wanted to do whatever my dad was doing, so golf seemed like the right thing to do during the fall,” she said.
The qualifying tournament was a more intense environment than she’s normally used to, and most of the golfers she was competing against had been golfing since they were kids.
“Playing with such seasoned golfers was definitely intimidating,” she said. “I haven’t played in an environment where everyone has been that competitive.”
In addition to the other golfers, the course was incredibly difficult, and the weather hovered around a rainy 45 degrees.
“The weather can really impact performance,” Chloe said. “The second day the weather was super bad, and on tough days like that, it’s all mental.”
Throughout the tournament, Chloe relied on her coach, Henry Fall.
“I really had to trust my coach and not second guess myself, you know, trust my gut and all that.”
By the end of the tournament, Chloe didn’t think that her score of an 87 on Saturday and an 88 on Sunday would send her to the championships.
“The scores weren’t horrible for the course, but I didn’t think that I would get there,” she said. “My coach and I honestly were talking about how next year I would hopefully be able to qualify.”
All that changed, however, after Fall called her with the good news.
“I was really surprised and really grateful,” she said.
Chloe and Julien Lewin ’20 from the men’s team will be the only two golfers at the tournament, which will take place in Williamstown in April 25 and 26. To prepare, she will be using the indoor hitting bay at Bates and bringing her golf clubs back to Nebraska with her over winter break to practice.
Though Chloe will be training to be in the best possible shape, she isn’t very tense about the tournament.
“I’m not really nervous,” she said. “I’m just excited to represent Bates. It’s a cool moment and I want to play my best. I’m not going in with crazy high expectations.”
Chloe added, “I want to have fun and bask in the moment because you only get four tries to qualify. I’ll also be taking notes from this year’s tournament in preparation for next year.”
Although she is the only woman to qualify this year, the team is young, and Chloe hopes that more of them will make it next year.
“I really think that we could be one of the best teams in Maine,” she said. “We’ve made a lot of strides already. We went from one of the bottom teams in the NESCAC to a strong competitor, which feels really good.”
Chloe added that having a more committed team is good, since last year, Bates didn’t really have a collective women’s golf team.
“It was more of individuals who came together to play,” she said. “I was lucky that my first year we got a coach and enough girls to create a team. I really want to see us come together and bond—to play for each other. I think we can place in one or more tournaments; we definitely have the talent and potential to do that.”
Chloe’s favorite part about golfing at Bates is the community atmosphere within the men’s and women’s teams.
“I really do think that all of my teammates, men and women, are really dedicated, and that’s what makes it more fun to do,” she said. “When it’s a full team and not really individual, it’s a more collective, rewarding experience.”
Baylor’s qualification represents a huge step forward for the women’s program that hopefully will springboard the team to more success down the line.