Ex-coach of world number 51 says another Border young gun "could go anywhere"

Sam Bakes is playing off an eight handicap - at just 12.
Sam Bakes is playing off an eight handicap - at just 12.

The former coach of European Tour member Marcus Fraser says another Border youngster has limitless potential.

John Rogers has only been with 12-year old prodigy Sam Bakes for a short time.

“If he dedicates himself to the game, I think he could go anywhere with it because he’s certainly got a lot of ability to hit the ball,” he said.

“I haven’t coached him enough, I’d certainly like to coach him more.”

Bakes has just started high school, but is already playing off an eight handicap.

It’s extremely rare for a youngster of that age to be in single figures, but he was swinging a club at three and had his first handicap at nine.

Just a year later, Bakes fired his best round at the challenging Commercial Golf Resort Albury.

“I shot 77 (seven-over par), I think I did it when I was 10 actually and haven’t broken it since,” he said.

Many who know the course, with its emphasis on straight hitting to avoid the picturesque tree-lined fairways, will only look on in envy.

“He’s very, very good to coach and he learns very fast,” Rogers said.

“If he put his time in, Sam would make a very good golfer.”

Rogers has been coaching a host of the Border’s finest youngsters since 1971, including Fraser.

He’s the Border’s greatest golfing export, rising to a world ranking of 51 in February, 2013.

Fraser had a tremendous work ethic and Rogers knows the game, perhaps more than most sports, demands devotion.

“If you want to be good at golf, you’ve nearly got to give everything else up,” he said.

“That’s what everybody’s doing, so you’ve got to really concentrate on one thing.”

Fraser is one of the world’s best putters, his short game keeping him competitive on the tough European Tour.

Interestingly, Bakes also boasts a superb short game and is a fearless putter.

If you want to be good at golf, you’ve nearly got to give everything else up.

John Rogers

“I just look at the hole and hit it at the hole,” he said.

Plenty of frustrated weekend hackers can only dream of such a carefree attitude as the hole can appear the size of a marble by the end of a confidence-sapping day with the flatstick.

Rogers hasn’t spotted Bakes’ putting yet, but he likes his swing.

“What I’ve done with him, I’ve found that he’s improved very quickly,” he said.

“He gets involved with the lesson, he’ll talk to you and learn as he goes.

“I have a very high opinion of him, I enjoy coaching Sam.”

Bakes has produced a number of impressive performances in junior tournaments.