by Jordanne Perry
Whether it is shooting the lowest score in a match or racing her younger brother to put her seatbelt on first in the car, sophomore golfer Chelsea Bayley is determined to win.
Growing up in a sport-oriented family in the small town of Rathdrum, Idaho, Bayley was no stranger to the competitive world of athletics. Her father Mike Bayley, a former Whitworth student-athlete who played golf and football for the Pirates, instilled the love of competition in both Chelsea and her brother Derek, a current senior in high school.
“My brother and I grew up constantly competing,” Bayley said. “We’d see who could run the fastest from one fence to the other. We both always wanted to be the best.”
As the champion of the NWC Division III Spring Classic last year at Gold Mountain Golf Course, it would seem that Bayley played the sport all her life.
“I knew all about golf since my dad played and my younger brother started to play at the age of four, as soon as he could swing a golf club, but I didn’t really like it at first,” Bayley said.
In the eighth grade, after attending all of her brother’s tournaments and being pushed to go to the driving range, Bayley became tired of watching and wanted to have the iron in her hand.
“I have to thank my brother for picking it up because I ended up really falling in love with it,” Bayley said. “The best moments are when you hit the ball and you hear that certain, crisp sound and you just know you hit a perfect shot.”
Her love for the game has grown into what her teammates and coach said can only be described as an unmatched dedication and passion for winning.
“[Bayley] is one of the girls who is always on time to practice and she will stay longer than she needs to get in extra reps and work on her swing,” women’s golf coach Emily Guthrie said. “She’s very focused and it’s not only in golf, it’s in everything she does.”
Although golf commentators on television tend to place a lot of importance on players’ swings, Bayley recognizes that golf is as much a mind game as it is one of muscle memory.
“[Golf is] 90 percent mental and 10 percent physical because generally a round is five-and-a-half hours and you have to be mentally focused the whole time, which is very hard to do,” Bayley said. “The tournament where I won, I had no idea what I shot and I need to learn how to block the score out of my mind and shoot one shot at a time.”
Bayley approaches the game from a logical standpoint and tries to ensure that each aspect is perfected.
“She is very analytical and breaks down each little aspect of the game,” freshman Michal Schuster said. “Of course there is the physical side, but golf is so much of a mental game and there is a lot of strategy involved. She’s willing to give me and everyone else on the team pointers on how to improve our games.”
Coming from a tight-knit family of four, Bayley is the type of teammate that provides support and treats her teammates as family.
“She does support everyone on the team and I think that does come from being so close to her family,” sophomore Yvonne LaCoursiere said. “Her family is very supportive of her that they’ll fly to Seattle or Portland to come watch a tournament and she’ll take the team home with her to Idaho where her mom will cook dinner for us. There is a lot of family involvement.”
Bayley’s devotion to her team only increases her competitive drive to be successful.
“Beyond a doubt I absolutely want to win and do well,” Bayley said. “I just really want to play well for my team, especially those days where it gets really ugly and I think ‘Man, this round is shot,’ but I think about my teammates out there and depending on me. My team motivates me.”
As a sophomore, Bayley has two-and-a-half years left as a collegiate golfer and has a clear goal set not only for herself but for the team.
“I really want to go to the national championships as a team,” Bayley said. “I think we can do it with this team and the next recruiting class we have is shaping up to be a really good group, so I am very excited for the next couple of years.”
Contact Jordanne Perry at email@example.com