Taylor Babcock had a dilemma after her college golfing days at Barry University finished in May.
What was she going to do with her car?
You see, Babcock, an honorable mention All-American as a junior for the Buccaneers in 2012, had just completed her second straight trip to the NCAA Division II National Championships. But she graduated a couple weeks earlier, and was headed home to Lake Oswego, Ore. Driving all the way back to Oregon from Barry’s campus in Miami Shores, Fla., wasn’t her top priority. Especially considering she didn’t know what the next chapter of her life would be.
Her problem was solved when Babcock, within days of competing in the LPGA Safeway Amateur Classic which nearly landed her spot in the women’s professional tour event in August, was named an assistant women’s golf coach at Yale. The Ivy League school she was being recruited by as a player before deciding to play at Barry five years ago gave her an opportunity she couldn’t pass up when Yale head coach Chawwadee Rompothong hired her.
Her unoccupied car now had reason to have a driver behind the wheel again. After getting the job she coveted, she flew back to Miami, and drove her car up to Connecticut, where she’s now living with relatives 30 minutes from Yale’s New Haven, Conn., location.
“So far, it’s been an amazing fit,” Babcock said. “I couldn’t have asked for a better situation to start my coaching career.”
Yale won its first two tournaments of the fall season, and finished second at this weekend’s Penn State event. The Bulldogs have shot anywhere from 286 to 294 as a team in taking home a trophy in each of those three events.
Babcock was given responsibilities in the areas of on-course instruction and player development, administrative roles, travel planning and paperwork duties, as well as offering her hand in recruiting for the 2015 seasons and beyond. On the course, she’s learned follow Rompothong’s lead, while applying tips she picked up from the three coaches she had as a player at Barry.
“Coach Rompothong has taken me under her wing,” Babcock said. “She’s a great mentor, and a great person to learn a lot from. I’m just very excited to see what happens after this year. The girls look up to me. I’m very much getting used to the idea of being a staff member. I don’t associate myself as a student-athlete anymore. Now I’m getting to transition into NCAA Division I athletics, so it’s really nice.”
Babcock, who spent three weeks in Asia on an all-star tour this summer, considered turning pro before the financial burdens of travel and tournament entry fee costs persuaded her to pursue the coaching route. Her decision paid off almost immediately.
Babcock, who was forced to transition quickly from carrying her own clubs to watching her understudies make the long walks while she offers pointers, started to gain an appreciation for coaching before her undergraduate days were over at Barry. In her junior year with the Bucs, her best as a player when she had eight top-10 finishes and a 77.69 stroke average in becoming a Women’s Golf Coaches Association Honorable Mention All-American, Babcock had two different prominent figureheads in a lead coaching role.
“Because I had three different coaches during my playing days at Barry, I learned things that I would want to use as a player,” she said. “That’s helped me as a coach. I was happy to go to nationals twice with Shannon (Sykora, Barry’s head coach). His coaching style was definitely influential to me in how I approach the Yale women golfers.
“What we work on is course management, putting and chipping,” Babcock said, her coach-talk vernacular shifting in nearly the same rapid fashion she transitioned from player to coach into the role she now precisely portrays. “We don’t try to change their swing. I just help the girls with whatever they need, as any other assistant would with whatever sport.”
How quickly she adapts to the Northeast winters, now that is a different story.
“Going from Oregon to Miami, that was definitely a culture shock,” Babcock said. “I loved the South American influence in Miami. I’m very easily adaptable to my climate. But Miami did not prepare me for the cold. I’m bundled up two times more than the average New Englander. I actually need to go shopping (for winter clothes).”
Well Taylor, New York isn’t that far, you know.
Her days as a high school golfer in Lake Oswego don’t seem that far removed, nor do her four years of college golf in Miami Shores. But this Northwest girl who still itches to swing the clubs at practice with the players she tutors in Yale blue and gray, dove into this coaching gig with no looking back. At Barry, the former Sunshine State Conference Vice President of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, provided instruction for youths aged 8 to 17 at roughly 20 First Tee of Miami clinics during her sophomore and junior years.
“It was a very enjoyable couple years, and it helped me with my passion,” Babcock said. “I think it was more of a realization for the passion I had for coaching. It was a bit of a spark. It got the ball rolling. I knew during my senior year I wanted to get into coaching.
“I’m very appreciative of everything that happened at Barry, from the help I received from my coaches to (School of Human Performance and Leisure Sciences Dean) Dr. Kluka and the staff. I’m very happy with how everything’s played a role in my life.”
Her transition from carrying the clubs to carrying a tote board came subtly. Now she is full-circle with the idea of coaching.
Or is she?
“When I started corresponding with coach Romphothong, it was instantly a green light,” Babcock said, her visions of becoming the best coach she can be at the forefront of her mind. “I want to help these girls become better players.
“That’s not to say I’m hanging up my clubs. I still practice with the players. I’m keeping my dream alive, while helping others with their opportunities.”
Seems like she has it all together.
Although someone might want to advise her the next time she ventures off to far-away places because of the opportunities golf has brought her, she might not want to leave her car behind. Otherwise, she could find herself shopping for something a little more pricier than a winter jacket.