Mikayla Baer got some, well, not-so-nice stares from a few male opponents on
Woodmore freshman golfer Mikayla
Baer is setting a new standard
at her school — excelling in girls
golf. (Press photo by Dean Utendorf
the golf course this past high school season.
Baer, a freshman at Woodmore, said those looks would come her way when she shot better scores than the junior varsity players and hit her tee shots farther than the varsity players.
"When I played jayvee, they were like, 'Oh my god, she hits that ball farther than I do!' " Baer said. "It was fun. This year I really wanted to maintain my focus and not worry about what other people were doing. Just play my game."
Baer is just the second female golfer Woodmore coach Scott Smith has had in his eight years with the Wildcats. Samantha Michaelis played for the 'Cats last season.
"It was really neat watching her play," Smith said of Baer, who alternated between the jayvee and varsity teams this fall. "The coaches, when they watch her first swing, the reaction they have is priceless. Her swing is incredible. Her length is awesome."
Baer, who said she carried around an 85 average (from the blue tees) this season, might have turned some heads when she shot a 9-over-par 81 to finish second at the Division II sectional tournament at White Pines in Swanton. Her second-place finish sent her to the district tournament.
"I knew she would do well there," Smith said of the sectional. "She has an excellent golf game. With the girls' tournament they play the up tees, and her length is a big advantage. She hits the ball a long ways. She hits her drives 250 yards, farther than most of my boys, which they don't like. She's very consistent and she usually hits it in the fairway."
The district tournament was held at Sycamore Springs in Arlington, where Baer shot a 93 and was unable to advance to the state tournament.
"It was probably the worst golf she's played all year," Smith said. "She struggled. She had a couple tough breaks that didn't go her way and she didn't get into a rhythm. It wasn't a horrible score, but it was disappointing for her because she wanted to do better. She was disappointed she didn't get to state."
Baer, 14, honed her game over the summer by playing in the 15-19 age group in the Lake Erie Junior Golf Association. It was her third year in the LEJGA.
"I finished third in points," she said, "and I had one win and came in second five times."
Baer first picked up a golf club at age 11, when she and her father, Brent, would hit golf balls into the creek near the family's home.
"One day he took me to a range at Crosswinds, and at first I didn't like it because I like to be good at things immediately," Baer recalled. "I wasn't very good at this. After two or three golf lessons, I was hooked. I kept with it."
Baer also receives instruction from Dave Sanford, the head pro at Crosswinds Golf Club. Sanford also works with Eastwood senior Alyssa Shimel, who recently won the Division II individual state golf title.
"Mikayla is very committed to golf," Smith said. "With our boys team she was probably our seventh person. She played in about four or five varsity tournaments. She played a lot of the jayvee matches and some varsity with the boys. She regularly had the low scores on the jayvee team when she competed. We used her score three or four times on the varsity."
The 5-5 Baer said her length off the tee "comes pretty natural."
"I don't have to try to crank it to try to get it that far," she said. "If I do crank it, I hit it about 280 yards, but I don't hit it that far. I usually keep it in the fairway. If not, it's usually on the first cut of the rough."
Baer said what she likes most about playing golf is the challenge it gives her to improve.
"I like knowing that I can get better," she said. "When I have a bad round, I know what I do wrong. My putting is probably the weakest part of my game. I'm going to get better at putting and that's exciting because I know I'm going to drop strokes.
"Overall, I had a very successful season because I wanted to get to districts and play well. I wanted to maintain focus. That's usually what gets me, if I lose my focus. That's where I add strokes."
To prepare for her sophomore season, Baer said she intends to take indoor lessons twice a week at Crosswinds.
"That will help me with ball striking," she said. "I really need to work on distance control, and probably my putting. Those are the things I plan to keep working on throughout the winter."