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Golf / Rich Tosches : Bayless Again All Business About Golf Career

Regan Bayless, former Pepperdine golfer and the men’s Los Angeles City champion in 1984, chokes.

It’s not golf that makes him choke, however. What is making him choke is a narrow, four-foot long piece of cloth that he is required to wrap around his neck each morning and tie into a knot against his windpipe.

Bayless sells real estate. But he has no interest, really, in the 3 bdrm/2 ba variety. His intertest in real estate runs more along the lines of which club he’s going to need to carry a golf ball over it. The only view to widen the eyes of this real estate salesman is a three-foot, uphill putt for birdie.

He once had dreams of playing golf for a living, dreams that became much more vivid after winning the L. A. City title at the age of 18. He had just completed a four-year golfing career at Crespi High, during which he was selected as an All-American by the American Junior Golf Assn.

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But in four years at Pepperdine, he watched his golf game deteriorate until the dream died.

After graduating last year, Bayless picked up a nice, shiny briefcase and tucked his golf bag away in the closet.

“When I got out of Pepperdine, I decided that golf was over,” said Bayless, 23, of Woodland Hills. “I played so poorly in college, and I didn’t even know why. I practiced hard and played hard, but I think I lost interest in the game at some point. When I finished up at school last year, I realistically figured that I couldn’t make any money playing golf like I was playing, so I got a real job and put the clubs away.

“I quit completely. The clubs never moved from the closet for eight months. I really lost interest. I never even thought about golf. I absolutely and completely had given the game up.”

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But in March, Bayless received an application for qualifying rounds for the California Amateur Championships. He had qualified for and played in the state amateur on the Monterey Peninsula each of the previous two years.

“Both tournaments were so much fun,” Bayless recalled. “Both times I played, it was just great.”

So out came the dusty clubs.

“I didn’t get to practice much before qualifying, and I didn’t make it into the tournament,” he said. “But I had played well enough in just a few weeks to get my interest up again.”

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He began making two trips a day to a practice range. And shortly he began striking the ball as well as ever. Recently, Bayless has started to enter tournaments. And he has started to get excited about golf again. He finished eighth two weeks ago in the Long Beach City Amateur Championships and last weekend he finished second in the Oxnard City championships, rebounding from an opening round of 76 with a 2-under-par round of 70 the second day.

“I’m psyched about golf again,” Bayless said. “I can’t wait to get to the course every day.”

This, of course, is starting to cause problems. Serious golf and spending eight hours a day in a shirt and tie tend to mix about as well as New York cab drivers and England’s Royal Family.

“It’s tough, really tough,” Bayless said. “I’m playing golf now as often as I can. I play before work and I play after work, every day of the week. Nine holes early in the morning and nine more after work. I’m going to Colorado Springs in two weeks to play in an invitational tournament, and I haven’t actually approached my boss about that yet. I made flight reservations already, so I guess I should mention it to them.”

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And with the renewed interest in the game, Bayless’ dream also has returned.

“I’m going to keep playing a lot of golf through the summer and then see how far I’ve come,” he said. “If I’m playing well enough by then, I’ll consider turning pro. What I’ve found out is that the alternative can be hell. When you think of the next 45 years wearing a tie and working 9 to 5, golf sounds pretty good again.”


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