Fairmont senior Josh Baldus started out his 2012 high school golf season with a then personal-best 18-hole round of 72 for a second-place finish at the Marshall Invitational.
Baldus' junior season ended in the Minnesota State High School League's Class AA state meet with a 26th-place finish, in addition to earning all-state honors via his low-scoring average throughout the spring.
This year, Baldus' spring season hasn't started out quite as successfully due to a lack of play. In fact, the usually cool and wet weather caused so many cancellations and delays that the Cardinals' opening competition was pushed all the way back to Monday at the St. Peter Invitational.
TEE TIME — Fairmont senior golfer Josh Baldus connects on his tee shot during regular-season prep action last spring. The Cardinal senior standout will look to close out his final high school golf campaign by earning another trip to the state tournament. (Photo from Sentinel Archives)
The Fairmont senior made the most of his opening day with a first-place finish of 78 to propel the Cardinals to a first-place team tournament finish at Shoreland Country Club in St. Peter.
Despite his past success, Baldus tries not to focus on his scores when he plays, instead waiting until he gets back to the clubhouse to find out the result.
"I usually have an idea of what my score is as I'm playing, but I don't really like to know what it is. Last year I was surprised when I found out what my score was in the opening meet," said Baldus. "Shooting that well right away really helped my confidence level for the rest of the season."
That confidence helped Baldus to lead the Cardinals as a junior and has helped him have success early in his final prep season.
"When I was in eighth and ninth grade, we went to state as a team, and I was one of the younger guys who got to play," said Baldus. "Last year, I think the pressure got to me a little bit. After being one of the younger guys on the team who just added a score to go and try to always be the top scorer was a little hard."
By the end of the season though, Baldus had earned his place among the top golfers in the postseason by claiming third in the Section 2AA Meet with an 18-hole round of 78.
Thankfully for Baldus, the weather so far this season has not seemed to either affect his game or slow him down.
"I know that I can't hit the ball as far as some guys, but I have always been able to hit pretty straight. As long as I keep the ball in the fairways and can hit it straight, I think I'll give myself a good chance," said Baldus. "If my short game is going well, the chipping and putting, then I think I can do even better than last year."
Josh Baldus has had many years to perfect his swing, with the help of his dad - former club pro Paul Baldus - and time spent at Interlaken Golf Club in Fairmont.
"We have worked on my swing a lot. When I was younger, we worked out the mechanics and swing plane, making sure everything was lined up. Now whenever I have any problems, I focus on that and try to tweak it to get back where I need to be," said Josh Baldus. "I was at Interlaken so much when I was younger, it's like my second home."
With the help of some decent weather and practice at Interlaken Baldus and his Cardinal teammates are hoping to make it back to the state meet.
"I think that we are going to have a really good chance to compete this season. Everyone has gotten so much better, it is actually kind of a relief to not have to always have great rounds," said Baldus. "I think this year is going to be fun."
The pressure of carrying his golf bag is the only thing that is weighing on Baldus' shoulders this season, and if the weather cooperates, could help him to end his Fairmont career the way he started it - at the state meet.
"With the weather this spring, it's been tough because we haven't really gotten to practice much," said Baldus. "I think that if we can start playing and if I can shoot around par, then I could make it back to state and hopefully finish in the top 10.
"Our team this year should be good though and I hope we can make it as a team, too."