A True Champion

Paul Flies

One by one, the ISU men’s golf team saunters off the greens of Ames’ Coldwater Creek. The squad of 12 slowly dwindles down to just one remaining player – senior Chris Baker.

As usual, the leader and unofficial captain of the golf team stays on the greens cultivating his already honed shot.

For most, the extra work put in now would seem like a waste of time. Instead, Baker sees the extra time as a sacrifice he must make to one day reach his ultimate goal.

“When I watch the PGA Tour on TV, I realize that all those players are great. That is a dream of mine to one day be there in the future. For that to happen, I got to work as hard as I can and keep practicing at it.”

Baker was first introduced to the game as a 7-year-old by his father, Jim. Immediately, Baker had a love for the sport and would play with whoever he could. What initially began as a young child playing golf with his father back home in Brownstown, Ind., transformed into much more.

Six years after picking up clubs for the first time, Baker began to see serious improvements in his game. To this day, he credits a 12-week golfing academy he attended in Dallas, Texas, as the reason for his success.

“At the golf school, there were only 12 of us there and we were being taught by two golf instructors. That event in Texas really helped to improve my game a lot,” Baker said.

In his return to Indiana, Baker continued to emerge as one of the top prep players in the state. At his graduation in 2004, Baker’s accomplishments included being a four-time state qualifier, three-year state finalist, three-time team MVP and the 2003 Indiana boys high school state champion.

Baker’s success continued once he enrolled at Iowa State, so much so that his freshman season is widely considered one of the greatest in school history. The highlight of Baker’s season occurred at the Big 12 tournament in which he shot a final round of 67 – the lowest score ever for a Cyclone in the Big 12 Tournament. To this day, Baker still claims it is the best round of golf he has ever played.

Following his sensational freshman year, Baker followed it up with two equally strong campaigns. During his sophomore year, Baker set another school record when he shot 66, the lowest 18-hole score ever at Iowa State, which he would end up breaking two years later. The very next year, Baker accumulated five top-10 finishes.

In this, his final season, Baker has raised the bar for himself once again. Through the first two tournaments of the young season, Baker has been named an individual champion and has placed second.Baker’s success is not just limited to the golf course, but also translates into the classroom. During his ISU career, Baker has been named to the first-team Academic All-Big 12 team twice, along with named an Academic All-American honor last season by the Cleveland Golf All-America team.

Chris’ father Jim sees his son’s intelligence serving a larger role in the future. To one day make it to the PGA Tour, his son’s intelligence will help serve a vital role in this goal.

“Chris is very intelligent, which is important since golf is a thinking man’s sport. The drive, ambition, intelligence – Chris has all of it,” Jim said. “The only thing standing between him and the PGA Tour are a few lucky breaks he needs to go his way.”

For ISU golf coach Jay Horton, Baker’s accomplishments in the classroom signify his overall commitment to excellence.

“Chris epitomizes the true meaning of a student-athlete,” Horton said. “What he has been able to do in the classroom has been truly phenomenal and speaks volumes about the type of person he is.”

High school golf coach Lou Sommers has taught numerous students over the years. He also sees something in Chris that very few of his other pupils possessed.

“Chris always did have a very strong mental attitude. When he was a senior, I told him trying to make it to the PGA Tour was a rat race,” Sommers said. “That never did discourage him from trying to accomplish his goal, however. Just being the type of kid that he is, I don’t see any reason why he will not make it.”

About Chris Baker

Marketing and management major

Graduated first in his high school class

Has hit three holes-in-one

Won a state mental attitude award in high school

Played for Team USA in Ryder Cup match vs. Team Canada at historic St. Andrews Golf Course in Scotland

In addition to Scotland, has played golf in Mexico and Virgin Islands

Favorite course – The Harvester in Rhodes, Iowa

Dream course – Augusta National, the home of the Masters

Dream golfing partner – Tiger Woods

Others on

Chris Baker

“He is a class act and shows everyone how they are supposed to portray themselves on the golf course. The way he handles himself, it makes him an easy person to look up to.”

– Ben Herrera, teammate

“[Baker is] the most outstanding golfer I have ever coached.”

– Lou Sommers, high school coach

“You wouldn’t know how great of a player he was by just talking to him. He is very humble and doesn’t act like a celebrity.”

– Ross Menke, teammate

“He doesn’t look at golf as a sport but as his job. Every day he does whatever it takes so he can continue playing the game he loves.”

– Jim Baker, father

“He’s a really good golfer and can relate to a lot of people. He doesn’t say much but instead leads by example.”

– Tyler Swanson, teammate