The way Laura Baugh sees it, she hit the gene pool jackpot. At age 65, she runs 10 miles on the beach four to five times per week. There are times the mother of seven plays 45 holes a day (in a cart) with friends and family half her age.
“There’s no mold that you really have to fit into,” said Baugh, who bombs it off the tee. Last year Baugh told Golfweek she hits it 260.
Baugh signed up for U.S. Women’s Open qualifying because it’s one of the few opportunities she has to play in a bona fide competition before the U.S. Senior Women’s Open July 29-Aug. 1 at Brooklawn Country Club, which happens to be the site of Baugh’s best USWO finish (T-8 in 1979).
— Beth Ann Nichols (@GolfweekNichols) May 1, 2021
This year’s U.S. Women’s Open will be played for the first time at The Olympic Club in San Francisco June 3-6. Baugh chose Bradenton Country Club as her preferred site for the 36-hole qualifier on May 3 because the last time she played in a competition was last August at Bradenton Country Club in the Florida Women’s Senior Open.
“I hit it plenty far,” said Baugh. “I’m a good putter. I don’t have the yips. So you ask yourself well, why wouldn’t you? Right now, my only excuse to myself is my age, and that’s not OK.”
Last June, Baugh launched Laura Baugh Golf Schools at Palencia Golf Club in St. Augustine, Florida. She teaches amateurs, collegiate players and several Korn Ferry Tour and mini-tour pros. Her son Eric, 32, competes on the KFT.
Baugh qualified for her first U.S. Women’s Open in 1970 at age 14. She missed the cut by one that year at Muskogee Country Club. This year marks the 50th anniversary of Baugh’s U.S. Women’s Amateur victory. She finished 33rd at the USWO in 1972 at Winged Foot at age 17.
Baugh has made 14 USWO appearances in all, with her last coming in 1987. Baugh said she frequently shoots under par from 6,600 yards in casual rounds but knows that’s not the same as feeling the pressure of a qualifier. Especially when she goes nearly a full year without competing. Bradenton Country Club is expected to play around 6,300 yards.
“I will tell you, when the bell goes off,” said Baugh, “I have the occasional seven that shows up.”
Baugh’s children range in age from 23 to 37. Daughter Haley, a frequent golf partner, will caddie for her in Bradenton. Baugh, who is single with two grandkids, was an immensely popular LPGA player who frequently appeared in ads for the likes of Ford, Wilson and Colgate.
“I’m not in any way trying to be 30,” said Baugh, who was part of the contingent that pushed for a Senior Women’s Open, going as far as competing in a men’s U.S. Senior Open qualifier to help bring attention to the void.
“I’m a little out of the box,” she said. “What can I tell you?”