For a sport where low numbers are the objective, the tally put up by the Baylor School golf program is staggeringly high.
With an incredible 40 combined team state championships in boys' and girls' competition, plus another 21 individual state champions and four players actively competing on the PGA Tour, Baylor golf is a solid No. 2 on the Times Free Press list of the area’s top prep sports dynasties.
“The school is committed to golf like no other, but the success has been a combination of a lot of things for a long time, all of which are rare,” said current Baylor golf coach Gary Partrick, who was recently honored by MaxPreps as being the nation’s greatest active high school golf coach. “The kids in our program know the deal of the expectations and pressure, and they accept it and continue to step up, which has been really fun to watch.
“Besides the talent, the thing that people need to realize is you’ve got to have four people put good rounds together over multiple days. Just think about how much luck goes into one person winning a golf tournament, much less needing four to play well over the same time.”
Each program has 20 team state championships, so the Baylor boys and girls share the TSSAA record for most titles by a program.
The boys’ championships have all come since 1988 and include six straight from 2003-08 and 16 of the past 22. The Lady Red Raiders own an incredible run of 16 straight titles from 1995-2010 — which set a national record — and 18 of 19 through 2013.
“In this league (TSSAA Division II), since the mid-to-late 90s, you’re competing against the best teams in the state and where everybody is good,” Partrick said. “Of our last five state championships, we finished fourth in the region a couple of times but then went on to win the state. That just tells you the level of competition you’re up against.”
The historical roots of the program run deep, beginning with Lew Oehmig (class of 1935) who is noted as one of the great amateurs in Tennessee history with state and national victories spanning five decades. His son, King Oehmig, was Baylor’s golf coach from 1997-2008, leading the girls to 12 team state titles and the boys to nine. During his tenure, five Lady Red Raiders produced 11 individual state crowns and three boys won a combined four individual titles.
Additionally, the late Jack Lupton (class of 1944) — a classmate of Robert Jones III, son of the legendary Bobby Jones — created The Honors Course in Ooltewah in 1983.
Baylor is believed to be the first high school ever to have four alumni on the PGA Tour in the same season, with all four — Harris English, Stephan Jaeger, Luke List and Keith Mitchell — having played for King Oehmig, who died in May 2015. English has won four times on the PGA Tour, with List and Mitchell each winning once. Jaeger, who has made the cut in two of his three U.S. Open appearances, is still seeking his first PGA Tour win, but his six career wins on the developmental Korn Ferry Tour are tied for second and he is one of a handful of players to shoot a round of 58 in a pro tournament.
Former Lady Red Raiders star Brooke Pancake, a four-time state champion and three-time All-American at Alabama before going on to the LPGA Tour, also played for Oehmig.
“He was grooming us to play competitively for the rest of our lives, and he knew that no point was too early in our careers,” Mitchell told the Times Free Press in 2018.
Baylor has had at least one former player compete in six of the past 10 Masters, including two (English and Mitchell) at the 87th edition, which wrapped up Sunday. Those two plus List also competed in last year’s British Open, and English was a contributing member of the 2021 U.S. Ryder Cup team.
The girls’ program has produced 14 individual state champions, with May Wood’s run of three straight (1998-2000) ranking just behind Pancake’s total. Blakesly Warren won back-to-back titles in 2012-13 and would go on, as Blakesly Brock, to capture the 34th U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship in September 2021.
List owns two of the boys’ program’s seven individual championships, winning consecutive titles in 2001-02, and Sheldon McKnight was the most recent boys’ individual champ for Baylor in 2020.
“I didn’t understand until I got there how far back the tradition went,” said Partrick, who was inducted into the Greater Chattanooga Sports Hall of Fame this year, “but when I took the job, it didn’t take long before I understood the magnitude of it.
“I got two phone calls when we won state titles the last five years; one was an 83-year-old and another was an 81-year-old, I didn’t know either of them, but they had my cell number and called within minutes of us winning it to congratulate us. They were keeping up with it. Golf is important at Baylor.”
Contact Stephen Hargis at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6293.
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