The Baylor men’s and women’s golf teams begin their fall seasons this week with high expectations and plenty of chances to prove their worth as a group.
The men, coming off the greatest individual summer season since head coach Mike McGraw took over as head coach, tee off on Sunday and Monday at the Gopher Invitational, hosted by the University of Minnesota.
The women will play in five tournaments this fall starting with the Trinity Forest Invitational in Dallas, hosted by SMU at Trinity Forest Golf Club, the home site of the PGA Tour’s Byron Nelson Championship.
Both teams have an ultimate goal of advancing to the NCAA Championship next spring at Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale, Ariz., outside of Phoenix. The Baylor men advanced to the national championship last year, but finished a disappointing 26th. The Baylor women did not qualify. The men will also defend their Big 12 Golf Match Play conference title next month at Houston Oaks Golf Club.
“This year we are playing five tournaments in the fall, which is the most we have ever played this early in the year, but I want to get a feel for our team and how we are going to come together,” said BU women’s head golf coach Jay Goble. “This time of year it can’t come fast enough for golf coaches and players. I feel very good about our player depth, but we want to play better.”
The Baylor women have played Trinity Forest before. Goble believes this team will be comfortable there at the home city for thousands of Baylor alumni. Trinity Forest is SMU’s home course and has a high-tech practice facility there.
“We are going there to win, that is our goal and mindset,” said junior golfer Diane Baillieux, a two-year letter-winner from Belgium.
McGraw has done plenty of winning of his own at Baylor along with stops at Oklahoma State and Alabama. The Bears experienced plenty of victories this summer in the “Summer of the Bear,” a nickname first coined by the Tribune-Herald in June.
Lewisville golfer Ryan Grider captured the 2019 Texas Amateur, the most prestigious amateur event in the state, in June at Dallas Athletic Club. Austin’s Cooper Dossey won the 119th North and South Amateur tournament in July at Pinehurst No. 2, one of the most prestigious amateur tournaments in the country.
In addition, Mark Reppe and Travis McInroe, along with Dossey and Grider, all qualified for the U.S. Amateur tournament this summer at Pinehurst.
“There were probably only four or five teams in the country who had that type of successful season this summer,” McGraw said. “All summers are competitions for us. Tournaments are like taking an exam to see what you have learned. Many times I’ve seen that carry over to the fall and spring seasons, and that’s what we are looking forward to this year.”
Dossey, who has his younger brother Luke join him on the team this year, said confidence was the most important thing he gained over the summer before returning to Baylor in the fall.
“I’m more confident as a player and we’re more confident as a team,” Dossey said. “We had a great summer and it was great to see the hashtag Summer of the Bear, but we need to start faster as a team”
The Bears have already broken into some preseason national rankings, but Grider said they must continue to improve on that.
“These are the types of tournaments we should be getting ready for. This summer is to get healthy, get my game sharp and get ready for the fall at Baylor,” Grider said.
Another promising newcomer for Baylor is Scout McNeely, whose brother, Maverick, was a star golfer for Stanford University and is now playing professionally. Their father, Scott, is the former chairman and CEO of Sun Microsystems.
“We need to play well now and later for conference, regionals and nationals,” McGraw said.