Derek Bayley usually puts his golf clubs away for 3-4 months in the winter, but this year his break was a little longer. The talented, three-sport athlete had left shoulder surgery Aug. 15, eliminating his chance to quarterback Lakeland High’s football team.
After five weeks in a sling and a methodical rehabilitation process, he was back on the basketball court in early December. He averaged 12 points per game for the Hawks.
Roughly 6-8 weeks ago, Bayley, one of the best prep golfers in the region, began working with swing coach Steve Prugh, initially with chip shots and half-swings before progressing to full swings.
“It was a little rusty at first,” Bayley said. “It’s taken a while and a lot of practice. I told my dad the other day this is the most I’ve ever practiced to shake off that rust.”
It’s early in the prep season, but Bayley fired a 3-under-par 69 Tuesday at the University of Idaho course and won medalist honors in a playoff at the Moscow Invitational. That’s a 69 with four 3-putts and a two-stroke penalty for hitting a ball out of bounds. The OB came on the par-5 fourth and Bayley still made par after draining a long putt.
“Coulda been magical,” Bayley relayed in a text message.
Bayley originally dislocated his shoulder Dec. 15, 2012, early in his junior season of basketball. He wanted to avoid surgery and continue playing three sports. Mike Bayley, Derek’s father, consulted with “everybody I knew that dealt with these things” and it was clear that surgery would be necessary.
The question was when. Bayley opted to sit out basketball season and play spring and summer golf, delaying surgery until August. He knew he’d miss out on his senior season of football, but something had to go.
“I didn’t want to miss anything because I’m that competitive,” Bayley said. “Every Friday night (football game) was tough for me. I was basically the ball boy, water boy.”
The decision turned out to be the right one, Bayley said. He experienced occasional discomfort last spring and summer, particularly after playing two or three days in a row. He was a little tentative at first when he returned to basketball, but he shook that off in a week or two.
Bayley has played a lot of golf the last six weeks and his shoulder feels great. On spring break last week, Mike and Derek played three rounds in Southern California and were spectators at the Arizona-Wisconsin NCAA game, the Mariners-Angels season opener and a Lakers game.
“He really hasn’t missed a beat,” Mike said. “Considering the surgery, the layoff, the fact that all he cares about in basketball season is basketball, he’s playing better and better all the time.”
Derek considered 10 western schools before committing to Washington State University. He likes the fact that WSU is close to home and Pac-12 golf is extremely competitive.
WSU is getting a good one, Lakeland coach Mario Maddy said.
“He’s a great player, but he brings other players up because of his competitiveness and leadership,” said Maddy, who called Bayley a “once-in-a-lifetime player for a coach.”
Bayley wants to finish with a strong spring season. He has a busy summer of golf planned before heading to Pullman in August.
“My biggest improvement has been my short game,” Bayley said. “My chipping has been the best it’s ever been. I went to see (Prugh) 2-3 weeks ago and he told me my golf swing is the best it’s ever been.”