Swinging to Success

A look inside golf star Joyce Bai’s journey to star.


Emma Degen

Joyce Bai ’20 (Right) stands proudly with the girls’ varsity golf team after winning 3rd place at the Huntley Sectional. The team is now headed to state.

With her club secured in position and her earbuds in, all of the pressures of life seem to ease away for Joyce Bai ’20 as her focus is quickly directed to the task at hand — the golf course. Hours of practice and hard work become evident in her effortless swing as the ball sails through the air and lands straight into the hole.

For many, the precision and patience required for golf would prove too difficult and deter them, but for Bai, this is simply a routine that she has become familiar with in the last five years she has played. Despite the pressure, Bai finds it soothing when she’s preparing to practice.

“Golf is really, really peaceful,” Bai said. “When I’m walking there by myself and listening to music, and it’s just me on that golf course — it’s a big stress reliever.”

Although golf games tend to be individualistic — with matches that range from 9 to 18 holes — during practices and competitions Bai relies heavily upon her team and stresses the close bonds formed with her teammates.

“We’re very close because there’s just six girls on Varsity and eighteen girls overall and we keep Varsity and JV together — my coach finds that very important,” Bai said.

The team also takes part in various bonding exercises designed to emphasize the importance of teamwork, ranging from videos inspired by High School Musical’s Bet On It to team meetings. According to Coach Emma Degen, her number one priority is to get all the girls to work together despite their levels of skill and experiences, which she relies upon Bai for assistance with.

“[Bai’s] really good about making sure everyone’s where they are supposed to be and helping with anything practice related, organizing clubs and getting to practice,” Degen said. “She’s done a very good job stepping up and making sure everyone’s on the same page this year.”

As well as assuming leadership, Bai has had to learn the importance of time management and how to balance golf with her academics. This has often proven difficult when taking into account the time required for practices and competitions.

“With golf I get home pretty late and there’s really no way to balance it — I just have to do my homework later, sleep later and I can’t really go to clubs during any sport season,” Bai said.

However, despite the stress golf may sometimes pose, Bai is able to effectively perform and it doesn’t hinder her playing or successes. According to her close friend, Sarah Zhou ’20, Bai is an incredible player that always remains humble.

“She has so many achievements but she never brags about them,” Zhou said. “Instead, she’s always like ‘Oh, I can do this better’ or ‘I can do that better.’”

With a focus on improvement, Bai has great plans for this golf season, ranging from the team being conference champions to state champions. According to Bai, the team shows immense promise that she is excited to witness.

“We have a lot of young people on the team and they’re not the longest hitters but they’re getting older, they’re getting stronger and we feel good about this year,” Bai said.