Baker will sing his own tune at CMU, but remembers his days in golf at BHS

Chris Bowie
cbowie@boonvilledailynews.com
Boonville senior Grady Baker attempts to sink a long putt during a match last spring at Hail Ridge Golf Course in Boonville. Baker would have been a four-year starter on the Boonville Pirates golf team this spring but had his final season cut short due to COVID-19. Baker will attend Central Methodist University in Fayette, where he will play golf for the  Eagles and major in music education.

Boonville senior Grady Baker knew from an early age that golf is a sport he wanted to play in high school.

Although Baker has been known to play a few tunes on instruments too many to mention his passion for the game of golf kept coming back twofold.

And like many of his peers at Boonville High School, Baker will move on to attend a college of his choice this fall-which so happens to be Central Methodist University in Fayette.

At CMU, Baker will major in music education in hopes of teaching choir some day at the high school level.

But for now, Baker can only relive the last three years on the Boonville Pirates golf team and what could have been for his senior year that was canceled due to COVID-19.

Like many who play the sport of golf, Baker remembered picking up a club for the first time with his grandpa. “My grandpa bought me my first set of clubs,”?Baker said. “I just really like all the technical aspects of golf like learning how to swing a club correctly and trying to aim your shot. I also liked being outside and playing golf for a couple of hours. To me that was fun.”

Baker still plays from time to time with his buddies, but to him, it’s not the same. He won’t have those bus rides with his friends or the trips to Dairy Queen to watch Brayden Page see how much he can eat.

Also gone are the thoughts of maybe qualifying for the state tournament along with his teammates.

But for Baker, the 2020 season doesn’t end at Boonville. Next spring, Baker will showcase his talents in golf at CMU. Baker said he hopes to make more friends at college and also improve his score.

“I was getting pretty close to shooting level par this year and I want to be able to shoot level or below at CMU,” Baker said.

With a nickname like “Blady”, which is another story, Baker recalls his best match three years earlier as a freshman in the Moberly Tournament, where he finished eighth overall with a score of 86. Baker said that score wouldn’t be great right now but it would still be okay.

As for the highlight of his career, Baker said again it was probably placing eighth overall at Moberly and then competing in the district tournament in 2019.

Baker also weighed in on not getting to play this season with his teammates.

“It really sucks because it’s your last year to play with your friends and what not,” Baker said. “I thought I had a pretty good career. I think this year would have definitely been my best, though, which kind of stinks that it got called off. I placed pretty well and was on varsity pretty much the entire time.

“I’m going to miss playing with Jake Horst and Brayden Page. We had a lot of fun times over the years. We made fun of each other a lot and always tried to make fun competitions like who could drive the farthest on the driving range or hit the ball the straightest.”

Baker also had plenty of stories to tell during his time with the team. One in particular occurred at McDonalds before a tournament, where Page was sitting down and eating. Baker said Page asked coach if he could have two putters in his bag, which the coach responded.

“Coach VanderLinden said yes but he didn’t know why Brayden would want two,” Baker said. “Brayden said one is for the fairways and one is for the greens.”

As for the nickname “Blady”, Baker said Page gave him that name because if he hit a bad shot it was at the very bottom of the club face.

Of course if you ask Baker, hitting the ball is not the problem when it comes to golf. He said most of the problem is in his chipping like the shorter shots 100 yards and in.

To keep his game sharp for college, Baker said he plays at least once or twice a week at Hail Ridge Golf Course in Boonville.

But like many of his classmates, Baker has been staying home mostly since March and looking for a summer job.

“I will definitely miss all my friends,”?Baker said. “I tried to get along well with pretty much everybody there, including the choir and group activities and stuff. But I’m not going to lie, it was pretty strange not having school in March, April and May because you had to learn a whole new way of going to school and doing everything online. It was a lot harder to ask your teachers questions.”

As for graduation, which was held on June 12 at Gene Reagan field at the BHS Sports Complex, Baker said he was just glad they finally had it. He said it would have been nice had they had it on time because several classmates weren’t going to be there because of vacation or were just going to be out of town.

Baker will be able to sing his own tune the next four years at CMU, whether it’s in music or swinging a golf club. That choice is up to him.