A Golfer on the Rise - Zach Bauchou
FOREST - He appreciates the swing of Adam Scott and the demeanor of Hunter Mahan. In 10 years golfer Zach Bauchou hopes an 18-year-old somewhere is saying the same things about him. The Forest native who is now a student at Liberty Christian Academy is one of the top young golfers in the country. "I started when I just could walk and then my first tournament was when I was six," Bauchou said earlier this week during a sit-down interview at his home course - London Downs Golf Club. "It's just a dream of mine, just to see how far the game can take me."Bauchou (pronounced Bow-shoe) said he's very competitive and he thrives on the individuality of the game. "That's probably the thing that I like about it the most is I don't have to go out there and rely on somebody else. If I have a bad day, I have a bad day. I don't have a team to carry me through and that's kind of the cool thing. If I play really well I'm the one that played well and I get rewarded from that."He grew up playing a lot of sports but realized he was best at golf. He picked the right sport. Bauchou, who can drive a ball 290 yards, is currently the 8th ranked high school junior in the latest Golfweek/Sagarin Ratings and this weekend will play in the Fox Puss at Boonsboro Country Club for the second time.Right now as a junior at LCA, Bauchou goes to school in the morning and then finishes at 11 a.m. Some days he'll work for a couple hours at his father's chiropractic office and then heads to the golf course. Other times it's straight from school to the course and he'll be there until the sun goes down.In addition to practicing, he typically plays in two tournaments a month during school and three a month during the summer. He said, "Golf combines being competitive with having a lot of athletic ability so it's really fun to be able to compete and really see how good I am on a global scale." He's played in California, New Hampshire, Florida and all points in between. Two months ago he played in China. He qualified for that tournament after winning an October tournament at The Greenbrier (White Sulphur Springs, WV) hosted by six-time major winner Nick Faldo. "I played really well the first two days [in China] and I had food poisoning the last day because it was little different atmosphere and I ended up shooting a 69, 71, 75 and got fourth [place]."Traversing the junior golfing world can be costly. Flights and other travel expenses can add up. "It's kind of been a more gradual thing. As I've gotten better we've played more and been able to compete more on a national scale and my parents have supported me in an unbelievable way. They've given me every opportunity and I can never thank them enough for what they've done for me," Bauchou said.He hopes one day he can pay them back - maybe not monetarily, but in professional success. Before he gets to that level, he'll play in college. He seriously considered Virginia, Alabama, Duke, and Georgia Tech but in early February he chose Oklahoma State. "I remember walking in and they have  All-Americans and I'll go to UVa or somewhere and they'll have like two. It's like, wow, this place, for golf, Oklahoma State is the king." Former and current PGA golfers Bob Tway, Scott Verplank, Charles Howell, Hunter Mahan, and Rickie Fowler are just a few of Oklahoma State's star studded alumni.Bauchou would like to have the success that those golfers have had. "That would be my goal, once I get out of college, be able to be supported by a company, be able to jump right on the PGA Tour and have success, win a couple tournaments, kind of have my career skyrocket that way," he said.Bauchou also mentioned the other lower-level professional tours, namely the Web.comTour, as a way to reach the PGA Tour, but for now he's focused on this season. He doesn't have a local coach. Instead he relies on his dad to provide feedback. "He knows my game really well. I trust any advice he gives me," Bauchou said.That advice has worked well so far. Bauchou estimates he's won more than 100 junior tournaments. This past week at the American Junior Golf Association Junior Invitational at Sage Valley (outside Aiken, SC) Bauchou finished tied for 15th place. One of the speakers at the event was nine-time major winner Gary Player.Player told the young golfers he believes you have to win at least six major championships to be considered a superstar. That's what Bacuhou wants to be. "I'd set that as my goal - six major championships."It's a bold statement from an 18-year-old but when that same 18-year-old is the one eating, sleeping, and breathing golf from sunup to sundown, maybe that statement isn't too outlandish.NOTES-The three-day Fox Puss tournament begins Friday morning May 2nd.-Last year at the Fox Puss Bauchou finished four shots back of champion Keith Decker.-Bauchou also plays tennis and ping pong for fun. He stopped playing basketball because he said it's too hard on the body.-Bauchou also admires current PGA golfer Jordan Spieth. "[He] is really awesome because it really shows a lot of young guys and me that we can be 20 years old, 19 years old and win a PGA event and have a chance at the Masters. Spieth's career just rocketed. Once you put in the hours and do what you're supposed to do you can really get good at a young age."