It has been six years since Brownstown native Chris Baker has competed in a qualifier for the US Open.
But today, that changes. Baker is competing in the final qualification for the US Open at Woodmont Country Club in Rockville, Maryland. It’ll be a grueling day of golf, playing 36 holes in one day, but Baker will have a familiar face alongside him throughout the entirety of it.
Jim Baker, Chris’ dad, will be the caddy. The two decided to do it because Jim is turning 70 on Tuesday, so in celebration, they will be out on the course together.
“It’ll be really cool,” Chris said. “I enjoy it, he enjoys it and it’s good time to spend with him on the course. Obviously, I’d like to play well, but at the end of the day, it’s good quality time. It’s something we’ll enjoy.”
Jim has caddied for his son in the past, too. Chris said some of his best golf has come with his dad as his caddy, including an event he won in Indiana in 2009.
“He’s very observant,” Chris said. “He knows what’s going on. He doesn’t play much anymore, but he loves being out on the course.”
Over the past couple of months, Jim has been working out and getting into shape to be able to walk 36 holes with his son today.
Jim went through some health scares during the pandemic one year ago, and the qualification in Maryland has given him some motivation to keep in better shape.
“I’m proud of what he’s done,” Chris said. “I’m excited that he’s going to caddy for me.”
Chris himself has been dealing with a bit of an injury lately. His shoulder has been bugging him for a while, and he hasn’t played a ton of golf as of late.
But he hopes today marks the start of a lot of competitive golf for him moving forward.
“I feel like it’s in good shape now,” he said of his shoulder. “My body feels healthy, and I feel like I’m swinging faster than I have in a couple months.”
Chris has played this course before, and it was the last time he tried to qualify for the US Open, which was six years ago.
He said he doesn’t feel like he has played 36 holes in one day since college, where he played at Iowa State University from 2005 to 2008.
Chris is a 2004 graduate of Brownstown Central High School, where he made the state finals three times. He was inducted in the Brownstown Central High School Athletic Hall of Fame in 2019.
One of the strengths to Chris’ game is his ability to drive the ball far and straight. For him, he said it all comes down to his putting game and believing in himself.
“Golf is a difficult sport,” he said. “Just kind of go out there and trust what you’ve done.”
The goal today is to obviously qualify for the US Open. Chris said he would love to play Torrey Pines Golf Course in California later this summer for the US Open.
But one of the positives is if he doesn’t, there’s also another opportunity next year. The US Open is legit open, and there’s a qualifier every year to try to get in.
No matter what happens on the course, there’s still the part of today that will make it memorable.
“Obviously, looking to play well, but if I don’t play well, then I’ll still have a cool day with Dad,” Chris said.
Chris will actually fly out of Maryland today after playing 36 holes and compete in an event in South Carolina starting Thursday. He hopes to keep his PGA Tour card this summer and get into a rhythm playing competitive golf more consistently.
He plans to come back to Brownstown this summer and hopefully play at Hickory Hills and Shadowood for fun.
“Golf has been amazing to me. I’ve traveled the world, met a lot of cool people and done things I didn’t think I would ever do,” Chris said. “It has given back to me so much. It’s a game that just keeps giving. It’s a great game and something that’s been great to me. I want to send out a huge thank you to my family, friends and community for all of the continued support.”