Schneider aims for sectional repeat on SaturdaySeptember 17, 2020
By COREY STOLZENBACH
When Baileigh Schneider takes the golf course, medaling almost seems like an inevitability.
The Southridge senior lefty has competed in 12 events this year, earning medalist honors in nine of them. Schneider began her 2020 season by shooting a 34 on Aug. 10 against Tecumseh, and has only kept on going.
Just last year, she finished fifth at the Pocket Athletic Conference meet and medaled at sectionals. This year, she captured the PAC medal with a score of 81 on Sept. 5 and is going for a second straight sectional championship on Saturday. Schneider is currently wearing a brace on her left hand after suffering an injury in cheerleading, but she keeps ending up on top anyway.
One thing behind her improvement this year was the summer reading she did. Raiders coach Tom Collins gave Schneider a couple of books to read, “Golf Is Not A Game Of Perfect” and “Golf Is a Game of Confidence.”
Golf is a family affair for Schneider, who has been at it since she was five years old back in 2008. Collins is in his fifth year of coaching the Southridge girls, and he saw Schneider’s potential dating back to when she was in eighth grade.
Back then, he noticed her skills and the way her swing looked. Success has come, but so has an evolved demeanor, as the books Schneider read helped her psychologically on the golf course.
“Once that mental state leaves of trying to be perfect, (professional golfers) play so much better,” Schneider said. “He got me those books to really understand that golf is not perfect.”
“There aren’t too many people out there that hit perfect shots every single time, and that’s one of the things that Baileigh would do is just get upset with herself if she didn’t hit the perfect shot,” Collins said. “You don’t always have to have a perfect shot to come out OK on a hole, and she had a hard time getting over not perfect shots.”
Schneider now knows to take 12 steps if she has a bad shot, and then moves onto the next one, putting the bad one behind her. Those 12 steps and taking deep breaths calm her down out on the course. Schneider is a golfer who has high standards, and she went into detail about how things are different this year compared to the demeanor she had as a junior.
“Last year, I got mad at myself, and before, it just kind of ruined my game,” she said. “If you saw me get mad once, you knew my game was over. This year, I wasn’t going to let that bother me. If I had a bad hole, I might’ve been irritated on that one hole, but once I got to the next one, I completely shut that out and I tried to par the next hole.”
Still, there are times she isn’t always happy afterwards. Schneider shot a 42 on Monday in a triangular against Boonville and Evansville Memorial. She wasn’t happy that she didn’t medal, even though the Raiders came in first place as a team, but she took that as an opportunity to work harder and get better for the next match.
Collins feels she can do a better job controlling her emotions, even though he’s proud of the progress she’s made. Even at the PAC Meet, when she stood tall amongst all others, Schneider was unhappy after it ended.
“She double bogeyed the finishing hole, and when she got done, she was just beside herself,” he said. “And we were trying to tell her, ‘Hey, you’re PAC champ. Even though you’re upset with the way you finished and the couple holes that you had, you’re PAC champ,’ and that just wasn’t good enough for her, and I don’t blame her. She wanted to finish strong, but I tried to tell her, ‘You played the whole round way better than your score showed.’ ”
Schneider isn’t sure why she’s so hard herself, but told of the goals that she has. She has aspirations of making it to state, after falling short each of her first three years.
She wants to play at the collegiate level, and after practicing nearly every day this summer, she’s proud of her hard work paying off, having attracted collegiate attention.
Schneider is looking at Indiana University East and Indian University Kokomo. She also could golf at the University of Southern Indiana as a walk on.
However, Schneider was also worried that if she doesn’t play well one night, that she won’t accomplish her goals in the future. She’s making the effort this week not to be her own worst enemy, and she’ll be thrilled should she not medal, but Southridge wins Saturday’s team championship.
Collins has noticed a change in Schneider’s performance since she began wearing the brace.
The way she swings, and her touch around the greens, as he put it, is “off,” but he credited her for finding a way and still having the skills with that.
The brace she has on is cause for concern if she can make it to state, but Collins expects her to repeat as sectional medalist Saturday at Buffalo Trace Golf Course.
“I think she doesn’t want anybody to take that away from her her senior year,” Collins said. “So, I think she’s going to be ready play — brace or no brace.”
Sectional is what she’s focused on for now, and can’t let any nerves or pressure of trying to make it to state get to her, or else, she might not make it past sectionals. Schneider is hoping to play to the best of her ability at the regional, and not have everything be wiped out on the final three holes.
If she does get to state, Schneider just wants to play her game. She would love to place in the top 20, but if she doesn’t, she achieved her goal, which would mean so much to her.
“I don’t know how to explain it,” Schneider said. “I would be speechless.”
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