She was golf’s glamour girl. Laura Baugh’s stunning good looks helped make her rich off the golf course. “I took the opportunity that others didn’t have to really do a lot of commercials, a lot of promotion,” said Baugh. “I made a lot of money.” In her late teens, Laura Baugh already had several endorsement deals and was the face of the LPGA TOUR, “I felt like I wanted to do a good job,” said the 1973 LPGA TOUR Rookie of the Year. “I didn’t feel the pressure, but felt If I did the best job I could and these companies felt like I would be a good representation for them than that was my purpose.” While many players were jealous of Baugh’s fame, she did bring more attention and money to the L-P-G-A Tour. “I expected to win everything,” said the 1971 U.S. Amateur champion.
But the wins never came. There were many close calls. 10 second place finishes, but no victories. “As my career went on and I continued to make commercials and promotions it took time away from my practicing,” said Baugh. “I think I cut my golf game and record short.”
In her mid-20’s, something else affected Baugh’s golf game…alcohol. “I just loved a glass of wine, that was it. Champagne, that was it,” said Baugh. “I definitely partied, no doubt.” The drinking intensified following a turbulent first marriage where Baugh says she was physically abused. “On our honeymoon, some pretty bad things happened and that’s the first time when I look back that alcohol soothed my pain,” said Baugh. “It made it go away and made me feel better.”
While her marriage ended quickly, the drinking did not. “I thought it made me sexy and thought it made me cute,” said Baugh. “I thought it gave me confidence in areas I didn’t have.” Over the next 17 years, Baugh married two more times and had seven children. She never drank while pregnant and continued to play on the LPGA Tour, but she could never put the bottle down for good. “I’d hide it around the house and forget where I hid it,” said Baugh. “It was just a nightmare, but when you are in it you just can’t stop. You want to stop, but you physically don’t know how.”
On May 17th, 1996, Laura Baugh took her last sip of alcohol. She was rushed to the hospital after years of alcohol abuse severely damaged her platelets. “I was bleeding out. I was 40,000 and dropping…you die at 50,000,” said Baugh. “It was done. I was in intensive care for three days and they kept giving me transfusions. I kept bleeding…bleeding…bleeding. I prayed pretty hard that I could have just one more chance, just one more chance.”
Remarkably, Laura got her second chance and she’s been sober for 19 years. “The great thing about being sober is that god has given me the opportunity be a service to other people that you don’t have to drink, there is a solution,” said Baugh. “There is not doubt in my mind that I am a miracle.”
“It was May 17, 1996, that was my last drink of alcohol,” said Laura Baugh. “I had made a situation where I made a promise that I was going to stop drinking again and I meant it.”It’s a promise Laura Baugh has kept for nearly two decades. “I prayed really hard that I wouldn’t die an alcoholic and I would be around to raise my children,” said the mother of seven. Those prayers were answered and these days, Laura’s life is so much different from when she was the number-one star attraction on the L-P-G-A Tour. In the fall of 2014, she opened the Laura Baugh Golf School at Jones Creek Golf Club in Evans, Georgia.
“I want it to be respected…I want it to be well known…I want it to be a destination,” said Baugh. “I’d like to have another reason people come to Augusta to the Laura Baugh Golf School.”
Laura can use her 25 years of experience on the LPGA TOUR to help golfers of all skill level. “What makes my school different is I played under the heat,” said Baugh. I know that you need a safe shot. I know that you need a repetitive shot.” Becoming a golf teacher has always been in the back of her mind. “When I was in my 30s I started thinking it would be nice to have a golf school.
On May 17, 1996…she just wanted to live another day. Now 19 years sober, Laura Baugh calls Augusta home. “I love Augusta. There are some people in recovery that are awesome here, just awesome,” said Baugh. As far as she’s concerned, the best is yet to come.
“Maybe my true fame and what I’ll be known for hasn’t happened yet.”
Laura Baugh Golf School (Jones Creek Golf Club-Evans, GA)
Contact info to book a lesson: firstname.lastname@example.org PHONE: (407) 491-2071
Laura Baugh’s book, Out Of The Rough, can be purchased at Amazon.com.