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Bauer embarks on life as a pro

Colfax graduate earns exemption on Golfweek National Pro Tour
By: Todd Mordhorst Journal Sports Editor
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Patrick Bauer couldn’t wait to embark on his professional golf career. There will be plenty of time later for school and the ensuing traditional job. After a stellar career at Colfax High and an impressive run at Sonoma State, Bauer is trying to make it as a pro golfer. He landed a spot on the Golfweek National Pro Tour through qualifying in January. He now has three tournaments under his belt and a couple of nice paychecks for making the cut at both the Pacific Open and the L.A. Open. “Going into those first events, I just wanted to make the cuts,” said Bauer, who was practicing at Auburn Valley Country Club Tuesday. “If you make the cut, you walk away with a paycheck, so first things first. After seeing the competition out there, I know that if I play my game there’s no reason I can’t win. My goal is to get at least one win this year. That would be huge.” The 22-year-old was a four-time NCAA Division II All-American at Sonoma State. He had about three semesters of school left to earn his bachelor’s degree. Instead, Bauer opted for the rigors of minor league golf. “I knew since my sophomore or junior year that I wanted to give (pro) golf a try,” Bauer explained. “If I stayed in school, it would have been very difficult to travel. If it doesn’t work out I can always head back to school. I didn’t want to waste any more time.” Bauer took his first lessons from Shawn Kelly, a longtime PGA professional at The Ridge in Auburn. Kelly was not surprised to see Bauer progress to the point where he can make money in the sport. “I always knew he would, if he wanted to do it,” Kelly said. “He was always the one out there practicing last, working on his game. He had a work ethic and I always knew he could be a player.” Bauer’s consistency off the tee is the strength of his game. His drives usually fly about 280 yards and he rarely misses a fairway. The key for the 5-11, 170-pound Bauer is his flat stick. “Tee to green, I’m just as good as anybody,” he said. “I have a very streaky putter. I’ve been working on lowering my putts per round. If I can average 28 or 29 putts per round for the week, I’m going to be in the top 10 every single week.” Bauer’s first three pro events were in southern California, making it fairly convenient. Next week, he heads to Florida for a series of three more tournaments. The logistical challenges are a big part of life as a pro. “It’s all new for me. In college, coach would take care of all of it and I just had to show up and catch the van to the tournament,” Bauer said. “Now it’s all on me. I’m scheduling flights, rental cars, housing and it’s all new to me. I’m sure I’ll learn as I go along.” Kelly said remaining confident and staying composed are keys to success at golf’s top level. “I told him, ‘Just know that you’re a good player, take one shot at a time and accept the good with the bad,’” Kelly said. “I just try to keep him positive and knowing that he can play with those guys.” Bauer plans to return to Auburn often throughout the year. The Golfweek Tour schedule sends the players to three tournaments in consecutive weeks – usually in the same region of the United States. The players then have three weeks off before another series of three events. Bauer keeps himself busy by banging range balls at Auburn Valley and picking up work shifts at the country club whenever he can. He’s certainly willing to put in the work to achieve the ultimate dream of playing on the PGA Tour. “Turning pro, it happened so fast, but it’s something that I’ve been striving for,” Bauer said. “I’m not at the end point. The eventual goal is the PGA Tour, but this is what you have to do – work your way up through the ranks.”