Baillieux Is A Welcomed Addition For The Buffaloes
BOULDER - Graduate student Diane Baillieux has experienced many different golf environments in the past few years going from Belgium to Waco, Texas, to now Boulder.
Baillieux first came to America when she was 14, knowing that was the best way to get recruited to be able to go on to the collegiate level.
"I was just a little too young, so I played one year, finished six or so, in England, so I was pretty good and my parents decided to send me to a Florida tournament the year after," Baillieux said. "I kind of got a lot of visibility, and then, around the age of 16 I won the British, and then I went to do the World Championship."
Baillieux's junior career was taking off so she was getting visibility from coaches actively recruiting. At first, Bailliuex committed to UNC, but due to unforeseen circumstances, she ended up playing for the next four years at Baylor in Waco, Texas.
"I was really happy I went there but my last year was a little harder," Baillieux said. "I did not play as much. When you play 100% for three years and then you are kind of sitting on the bench the last year is kind of tough mentally, but I got a good degree and got a great experience."
Baillieux was playing less because the talent level was getting extremely high for BU, which in turn made the team more competitive to get playing time with. During the 2020 season, Baylor was ranked No. 1 in the country. Although Baillieux was not playing as often as the previous years, her attitude was still high, and she still put in the effort to help her team out in whatever way she could.
Baillieux played during the Covid-19 pandemic and explained that the struggles around that added to her ability to participate in tournaments. Because of teammates contracting Coronavirus and contact tracing protocols, Baillieux was continuously pulled off the course, this in effect impeding her ability to qualify for various tournaments. As Baillieux headed into post-season with Baylor, she was able to look ahead at the future with the Buffs.
"At CU, you feel like you matter," Baillieux said. "You feel like they like to make you feel that they're grateful that you're here. They take care of you if you need anything; they're always there."
Anne Kelly, Colorado's head coach, feels extremely fortunate Baillieux decided to come to CU for graduate school and golf.
"Number one she is a good player, so that helps us," she said. "Number two she brings a lot of enthusiasm and leadership to the team and a lot of experience playing four years at Baylor. She adds a lot."
Baillieux explained that one of the biggest changes for her was that she felt she is more flexible at CU and can be honest with the coaching staff if she needs to cut back or is getting too overwhelmed.
"That's a new aspect that I wasn't used to," Baillieux said. "That I feel trusted, and that also feels amazing, because you kind of feel like they know you're trying your best and trying to do the right thing to get better, and they trust you."
The other positive, uplifting environment that the golf team fosters also goes further into the tournaments as well.
"Even if you do something bad, the coaches always say, we're going to turn it around in a way that at the end of the day, even if that was bad like we're gonna make it positive for the future. So love that about them." Baillieux said.
Baillieux has been able to fit in easily with the team and Kelly. Even with barriers such as Baillieux being the only non-native English speaker, she feels as though she has still been able to get in the groove of things with the team and find her stride.
"They're all super nice," Baillieux said. "I'm kind of outgoing and kind of loud in general. It's going well. There's no drama, that's also something I love because as a grad student, I'm a little older than all of them."
Kelly agrees that Baillieux's addition to the team has been a fairly seamless transition as well as a welcomed one.
"She's been a bright light," Kelly said. "She came in and made friends immediately with everybody. She fits in really well and works really hard. She's competitive and has a fun sense of humor. She's a great team member. I'm really thrilled she joined us."
Baillieux also has enjoyed the change of pace with the training of the course. Before coming to Colorado, Baillieux said the training was more focused on stretching and preventing injury, while at CU, there is more conditioning and strength training which has been much welcomed.
As the season goes on, Baillieux wants to see herself play to the top of her abilities.
"I want to see if maybe I have a chance after to maybe do this with my life," Baillieux said. "My goal would be to at least win one tournament, but at the end of the day, I don't go into a tournament on the first hole and think, I'm gonna win this. It's kind of a process and you have to trust yourself. At the end of the day, you have your scorecard, your score and you have to go with it. If it's good, it's good, and if it's bad then move on to the next day."
Baillieux said the transfer to CU also allowed her to really help out on the team and become a big reason for success again.
"I would love to always have my score count for the team and be helping a lot. I want to help because I couldn't with my other team anymore, not in the way they needed me to."
Baillieux explained that some of the toughest times pre-transfer and coming back to a normal team schedule was that she couldn't go home for major holidays because of her parents being essential workers. This forced her to spend a lot of time in Texas and away from family at a time when many went home to be with their loved ones. Mentally, it was the most challenging time.
However, now that Baillieux and her teammates are on the trajectory of a more "normal" season, team spirits are high as they continue with the year.
"Everybody was excited to play our first event," Baillieux said. "We just couldn't wait to go. We're talking about my other teammate and she's a senior and said this is her only second full season."
Baillieux explained that as a team, they are most excited about the postseason and the possibilities that come with it. Baillieux said the camaraderie and atmosphere of the team are giving them hope that the postseason could be a big opportunity for them to end on a high note.
"I feel like we all get along, and we all want to be here and we all want to play well," Baillieux said. "That is good momentum to have, I'm sure we're gonna be fine.
And then at the end of the year, we have Pac-12s, regionals and then hopefully nationals. And that's kind of like the big goal for the team is to reach that."
The Buffaloes are currently ranked 58th in the latest Golfweek rankings (as of October 7). Baillieux ranks second on the team with a 73.0 stroke average through five rounds, all which have counted towards the team score. CU will play its third tournament of the fall October 11-12, the Illini Invitational, in Medinah, Ill., before heading to the Stanford Invitational, October 15-17.