Surrey based PGA Professional and coaching guru Kristian Baker is off to The Masters, thanks to one of his protégés for the past seven years, current Amateur Champion Harry Ellis, making his Augusta debut.
Alongside the success of his book launched last May, The Winning Golf Swing, Baker’s relishing this unique opportunity: “When I first met Harry aged 14, he was obviously talented. To imagine we’d be off to The Masters one day is something you might dream about – but now it’s for real.”
Currently studying at Florida State University, Ellis was just 16 when he joined an elite ranking in golf by winning the English Amateur, beating Sir Nick Faldo’s record for being the youngest ever winner.
With the 2017 Amateur Championship under his belt, Ellis became only the third player to win both the UK’s major amateur titles, and gained invites to The Open Championship in 2017, to The Masters this April, and the US Open at Shinnecock Hills later in 2018.
Baker will be flying out to coach Ellis for 10 days prior to The Masters. This preparation starts with a stern test at the Golf Club of Georgia, where Ellis will play US Amateur champion Doc Redman for the Georgia Cup and the honour of deciding which of them is top dog.
Then it’s off to Augusta’s hallowed turf. Practice opportunities are strictly controlled by The Masters’ committee, so Baker’s main task is to help Ellis learn and master Augusta’s unique challenge.
As Baker explains it: “We will treat it like all the other tournaments and we’ll work hard to get his game really sharp. Much of it will be away from Augusta itself, so the practice rounds at Augusta will help us learn about the unique qualities of the course and hone Harry’s game.”
Teeing things up will be the traditional Masters Par 3 contest in which the competitors’ families, friends and relatives do the caddying. Then on April 5th things get serious, but Baker will be with Ellis every step of the way.