Prairie Profiles: Chris Baas

Published 12:00 am Monday, April 17, 2006

Competitive driver

By Jeff Budlong, sports editor

Zane Zemenski is not a name known well in the sport of golf, but he was one of the driving forces behind Chris Baas’ success on the course.

Zemenski, the former head coach at Scottsdale Community College in Arizona, told Baas he didn’t have a chance of making the team.

Those words just stoked the competitive fires in Baas, who went on to play in every match his first season at the school and earned all-conference honors.

&8220;I proved him wrong, and it was a good time in my life,&8221; said Baas, who chose SCC after paging through the Ping Collegiate Golf Book and saw it was the No. 1-ranked community college in the nation at the time.

&8220;I will never forget this and my dad won’t either,&8221; Baas said.

Baas’ success on the course hasn’t cooled much in the years since as he has won numerous local tourneys including the Shortstop, a golf tournament at the Albert Lea Golf Club.

He first took up golf at 8, hitting balls at Southwest Field in Albert Lea with his friends. By 12 he had given up on baseball and began to focus all his attention on golf riding his bike to Green Lea Golf Course and routinely walking 36 holes a day.

&8220;I was intrigued by the challenge of the sport and had a good time playing with friends,&8221; Baas said. &8220;It was fun just being outside, and it was a lot less travel than baseball.&8221;

Baas, 29, was a member of the Albert Lea High School varsity golf team from his freshman year until he graduated. During that time he developed rivalries that still drive him today at tournaments around the area.

&8220;I have a lot of rivalries here in town, and as competitive as I am I don’t like not seeing my name at the top,&8221; he said. &8220;If you are a favorite you want to win, so it kind of drives you.&8221;

Golf seems to be the perfect game for Baas to feed his competitive side as he is continually searching for that perfect round. He shares the course record at Green Lea with a round of 62, but the idea that on any given day he could shoot 60 or 61 is the kind of challenge he loves about the sport.

&8220;It is impossible to have a perfect round of golf because there is always something you can work on and improve,&8221; he said.

For all of his local success, Baas would like to be able to find that same kind of satisfaction at a slightly higher level.

&8220;I want to be very competitive in state armatures and state match play events,&8221; he said.

&8220;I know I can play with those guys.

It is just a matter of me working on mental toughness and

grinding it all the way to the end.&8221;

The thought of trying to take his game to the highest level &045; the PGA Tour &045; is a question he was asked a lot especially a few years ago, but it is not something Baas even considers.

&8220;It is such a tough life, and it is more important for me to have a good career and be able to enjoy golf,&8221; he said.

Baas, who has worked in the home mortgage department at Wells Fargo for nearly three years, said as he has gotten older he realizes getting to the golf course is not the most urgent thing in his life.

&8220;I still take every opportunity I have to play golf, but it has sort of become secondary because other things have become more important to me like my job and career,&8221; he said.

Golf might not rank on the top of Baas’ priority list anymore but that doesn’t mean he should be taken lightly. After all, that is just the kind of thing that he thrives on.