Jess Baker shares year of incredible experiences with next generation of female golfers

Women’s Amateur champion Jess Baker swapped the sunshine of Florida for the snow of Northumberland to share some of her experiences with the next generation of female golfers from across the North East and Cumbria.

Jess was part of the North of England Futures and Regional squads – both coached by JJ Vallely and managed by Bryan Ross at Matfen Hall – from the age of 12, and met up with the current Futures and Regional squad girls after returning to the North East for her Christmas break.

“It’s great to be back and have the chance to experience winter at home,” says Jess, who returned from her third year of a four-year scholarship at the University of Central Florida.

“It’s also lovely to spend some time back at Matfen Hall. I remember sitting in the presentations – maybe questioning why we were up here in the snow through the winter at times – but having done it, I know how valuable all your time in the developmental system is.”

Having won the 119th Women’s Amateur Championship at Hunstanton this summer, Jess, 20, competed in two major championships in 2022 and will be teeing it up in the Chevron Championship and US Women’s Open at Pebble Beach, as well as the Augusta National Women’s Amateur in 2023.

Jess discussed winning the world’s biggest women’s amateur event and being part of major championships alongside the best female golfers in the world. She also shared her experiences of winter training at Matfen, how the friendships built in those sessions have endured into national squads and beyond, and how those experiences played a part in her reaching the top of the women’s amateur game. She also discussed how they continue to shape her work ethic and training, and how they helped her progress from a 28-handicapper to the Amateur champion in just eight years.

“I didn’t have a clearly defined golf role model growing up,” she says. “I think part of that is how I think about the game and the journey I want to take in golf, but there also wasn’t girls who’d come through the squads.

“To be at the forefront of that for the girls starting their journey is so special. It’s a real honour to give something back to this system.”

Having enjoyed a whirlwind year – from winning the Amateur to being part of the celebrations at St Andrews for the 150th Open Championship, and competing in The Women’s Open at Muirfield as well as the Evian Championship and the Canadian Open on the LPGA Tour, Jess is looking forward to time at home and resetting before an equally busy 2023.

“These next few weeks are the perfect opportunity to take a break. The weather is so good in Florida, you feel like you’re missing out if you don’t practise and play every day, so Christmas at home will be a chance to step back, relax, and enjoy some time off after a rollercoaster year.

“I learned so much this summer and my plan is to take that into 2023 and try to make the weekend in one of the majors.

“All the attention is incredible, but I’m still the same person I was before winning the Amateur. You get back into the grind quickly and turn your focus to what’s next.

“There’s a lot to look forward to in the short-term, then I want to graduate in 2024 and we’ll see what comes after that.”