Gophers golfer places second at state amateur

Monica Wright

Being a Gopher golfer in Minnesota, where snow threatens the ground eight months out of the year, it can be hard to know when your off-season is.
With a schedule that stretches through the worst winter months when most golfers trade clubs for shovels, summer would seem like the best chance for a break.
If you’re Minnesota senior Katie Bakken, you don’t get a vacation, because your summer is ideally comprised of a tournament every other week.
Two weeks ago it was the Women’s State Amateur tournament where Bakken took second behind defending champion Claudia Pilot.
Though Bakken cut Pilot’s lead to within three strokes, a pair of bogeys caused a setback that left Bakken with a three day total of 221, a distant second to Pilot’s 216.
“I obviously wanted to win, but she was six shots ahead of me and that’s a hard lead to catch,” Bakken said. “I was happy with how I played and that my teammate (junior) Megan Stier and I made it into the top three.”
It was almost inevitable that Bakken would grow up to play golf. Her parents used to run a driving range and her father was a professional golfer. A two-time all-conference player in high school, Bakken attended California.
While she was a Bear, Bakken placed fourth at the California-Blue Rock Springs Invitational with a two-day total of 162 and finished with a fall stroke average of 79.5.
After transferring to the Gophers following her freshman year, Bakken now feels it’s time to leave her mark in Minnesota. And with the Big Ten tournament being held at the University’s Les Bolstad golf course this year, the perfect opportunity has arrived.
“I’d like our team to win every individual tournament, but that’s pretty much an impossible goal,” Bakken said. “The team looks good this year. We didn’t lose anyone, so we’ve got two seniors and a bunch of juniors. Big Tens are at home this season so our team goal is to win Big Tens.”
To prepare for her lofty goal Bakken is continuing to make the rounds in tournaments across the country. This week she heads to Michigan to compete for one of two amateur spots in an LPGA tournament.
With the continuous competition, Bakken feels she has cleaned up her game considerably. The most obvious development over the summer has been an improvement in consistently shooting lower scores.
This Bakken attributes to the higher caliber of competition she faces at non-collegiate tournaments.
“It’s fun to see in these tournaments how I stand against professional golfers,” Bakken said. “I don’t want to get beat by anyone, so my level of play goes up when competing against better players.”
Needless to say, Bakken herself hopes to one day be the professional offering inspiration to less experienced golfers.
“As I’ve gotten older, playing pro fessionally has become more of a goal,” Bakken said. “I’m going to see how my senior year goes and then possibly try and play professionally.”
Monica Wright welcomes comments at [email protected]