Born in Gainesville, Laura Baugh grew up in Long Beach, California. In 1971, she became the youngest ever U.S. Amateur winner – a distinction she held until 2006. A Northeast Florida resident since 2015, the six-time LPGA runner-up and authored of “Out of the Rough” now teaches golf at Sawgrass Country Club.
What brought you to the First Coast?
The charming people and the beautiful beach! There is also a very knowledgeable population of golfers and challenging golf courses.
You’ve enjoyed a long successful career in professional golf. What first piqued your interest in the sport?
I have always played golf. My dad played golf and whatever he did I wanted to do – I just wanted to be with him! I won a golf tournament at 3 years old, so I seriously mean I have always played golf!
You enjoyed success in golf at a very young age. What are some of your career highlights?
I was fortunate to win many amateur titles, but the biggest was the Women’s U.S. Amateur at age 16. I turned pro at 17 and was Rookie of the Year on the LPGA tour at 18 years old. I played the LPGA tour for over 20 years, then I worked as an announcer with TV – including, CBS, ESPN and the Golf Channel for 10 years – and now I teach golf. So, there is not a question about golf I can’t answer!
Has women’s professional golf changed since you began your career?
Ladies’ golf has increased in volume, and the equipment and course conditions have improved. That allows the players to hit it further and have more shots – but talent in any era is talent. Great players would be great players regardless of which era they played in. It’s just a certain work ethic and natural ability.
Do you think golf has gained in popularity among women?
Women’s golf has gained popularity but it has a long way to go! Fashions need to improve and we need to make golf challenging and fun!
You now teach golf at Sawgrass Country Club? What are a few key tips you give to novice players?
Three things. 1) Develop a pre-shot routine. 2) Create a full backswing. 3) Transfer your power through. You do not have to lose distance as you mature; you can hit it farther than you ever have! It’s all about loading the right side (if you are a right-handed golfer).
What do you enjoy most about living in Ponte Vedra?
The ability to make a difference each day. A walk on the beach puts life in the right perspective and keeps my priorities in the right order. Truly a blessing.