Bailey Shoemaker’s first set of golf clubs was plastic.
“I’ve been playing since I could walk,” the 17-year-old amateur golfer said.
“I played in my first tournament when I was about 7, and I just wanted to keep playing ever since I was old enough to play.”
Bob Shoemaker — her dad, who also happens to be her caddie — agrees with his daughter’s recollections.
“By the time she could talk,” he reminisced, “Bailey would be asking, ‘When are we going to the course? When are we going to the range?’”
Besides being eager to get out on the course, she was easy to teach.
“I never forced it on her and — it didn’t come naturally, because she worked hard at it, but she was always good and has always enjoyed it,” the caddie said.
Enjoyment has led to success, too.
On March 1 through March 3, Bailey competed in the Lake Jovita Women’s Championship hosted by the East Coast Women’s Pro Golf Tour (ECWPGT).
She tied for eighth place, shooting a 4-over par on her home course.
“I’ve been wanting to get on this tour for a while,” Bailey said. “It’s a good first one to have, too, on your home course.”
“Nice to sleep in your own bed at night, too,” Bob said, with a laugh.
Although she had hoped for a stronger finish, this event is just one of many she’ll be playing during her junior season.
After that, Bailey, who is an online student, will begin her senior year. She committed to play women’s collegiate golf for the University of Southern California.
The ECWPGT is a professional golf tour for young women who are in high school, in college or recent graduates from collegiate golf.
The tour was rebranded from the National Women’s Golf Association.
Its new owner, Mark Berman, a 25-year golf industry veteran, has worked for the PGA TOUR, the World Golf Foundation and the World Golf Hall of Fame.
He has turned the tournament into a competitive stepping stone for women golfers to make the Epson Tour — the Official Qualifying Tour of the LPGA — and, of course, the LPGA.
“(The ECWPGT) helps her even more to prepare for college golf,” her dad said.
“Out here are either college golfers or golfers who just graduated, and it’s really helpful to play this and prepare for other tournaments.
“We’re always trying to make sure she’s playing up as much as possible because out here the competition is going to be deeper and stronger and better than your average amateur tour,” he said.
“It’s great preparation,” added Bailey, who carries a 6.5 handicap.
She added that it’s a great competition, giving her the chance to go up against golfers she hadn’t seen in a while and some that she’d never played.
“It’s really just an all-around great event,” Bailey said.
The tournament is more than just playing competitive rounds, it’s set up to prepare the young women golfers with an atmosphere of professional events.
“It’s great that everyone is encouraging us (young women) to get out and play,” said Bailey, whose golf career highlight so far is an ace that came during the Stacy Lewis Invitational at Blessings Golf Club in Fayetteville, Arkansas.
“I know when I started golfing, just after I was born, that’s when women’s golf really started to boom and then the women (golfers) started to get longer and longer (on shots). Now, with each generation, you keep seeing everyone getting better and better.”
The ECWPGT looks to create more and better playing opportunities for aspiring LGPA players.
It’s a tour aimed at emboldening the next generation of talented women golfers.
Published on March 09, 2022
Leave a Reply
You must be logged in to post a comment.