It’s hard to imagine any amateur having a better stretch of opportunities over the past year than Jess Baker. The UCF junior won the 119th British Women’s Amateur as a 19-year-old and weeks later found herself at the 150th British Open, teeing off alongside Collin Morikawa and Anna Nordqvist in the Celebration of Champions at St. Andrews.
Next week, the 20-year-old Englishwoman heads to Georgia for the Augusta National Women’s Amateur. In between, there were major starts at the Amundi Evian Championship and AIG Women’s British Open at Muirfield.
“You’d be milling around, and Rory McIlroy would be sat there,” said Baker of her time at the Old Course last summer.
Last November, Baker had the chance to play Augusta National and meet the local caddie she’ll be using. It was around that same time last year that she began working on her short game with Gareth Raflewski, who has worked with a number of top-ranked LPGA stars over the years.
Baker said her length off the tee has always been a strength but that her putting has really come into its own the past year. Knowing how important local knowledge is around the greens at Augusta, Baker said she had to let her dad know that he wouldn’t be on the bag next week.
“He is a bit gutted that he’s not in the boiler suit at Augusta,” she said.
The first round of the ANWA begins March 29 at Champions Retreat Golf Club, with the final round taking place at Augusta National on April 1. The top 30 players and ties will play the final round.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that Baker’s dad doesn’t have anything to look forward to. Baker is also exempt into the U.S. Women’s Open at Pebble Beach in July as well as next month’s Chevron Championship in Texas.
The latter will prove a bit more of a challenge for both as the practice rounds for the Chevron overlap the American Athletic Conference Championship. With the conference tournament ending on Wednesday, April 19, in Brooksville, Florida, and the LPGA’s first major of the year starting the next day, Baker has requested an afternoon tee time for that opening round.
“That’s just what you have to do,” she said. “I’d rather do that than not have the opportunity to play.”
Davis won’t be the only amateur facing this kind of dilemma. The Pac-12 Championship also ends on April 19 while the Big Ten, the Big 12 and several others end Sunday, April 23. The Chevron hasn’t yet released the names of its amateur participants.
Baker will head to Texas with her father the week after the ANWA to get an early look at The Club at Carlton Woods in The Woodlands. Then it’s back to Florida for the college postseason.
“As logistically difficult as it is,” said Baker, “I would do it every time.”