Patriots Punter Bryce Baringer Qualifies For 116th Mass Amateur Championship - MASSGOLF

Patriots Punter Bryce Baringer Discusses His Qualifying Round & How Golf Helps His Career As An NFL Pro

Get a kick out of this! New England Patriots punter Bryce Baringer made his Mass Golf championship debut Tuesday and proceeded to shoot 1-under-par 69 to earn medalist honors in the Mass Amateur qualifier at Stockbridge Golf Club. Baringer was playing the course for the first time and managed to make five birdies, going 2-under on the back nine. He was accompanied throughout the day by his caddy Keith Regalbuti and his wife Bella.

Baringer, who was drafted out of Michigan State in the 6th round of the 2023 NFL Draft, played in all 17 games and led the league with 38 punts inside the 20 during his rookie season. While in high school, he was a standout golfer for Pontiac Notre Dame Prep. He later became college roommates with James Piot, who won the 2021 U.S. Amateur Championship.

The 116th Massachusetts Amateur Championship will take place July 8-12 at Framingham Country Club. After 36 holes of stroke play, the low 32 scorers will advance to match play. Entries are open to amateur golfers with an active Mass Golf Membership and a Handicap Index® not exceeding 3.6 (at the time of registration).

We caught up with Baringer, now a member of TPC Boston, after his round to talk about his affinity for both football and golf.

Online: Mass Amateur Qualifying Results – Stockbridge GC | Mass Amateur Home

Mass Golf: What was it like for you trying to qualify for a state amateur championship? 

Bryce Baringer: Golf is a big part of my life. I’ve tried to qualify for the Michigan Amateur back home but have never made it through. Stockbridge was a good track. I’m not upset with my performance today. I was 3-under through 12 and made a sloppy double bogey. Being even-par going into 17, I just wanted to play those holes even. On 18, I got the putt to fall from 25 feet. It landed paces behind the hole, and 25 feet left, I put a good roll on it. Making a putt like that feels like you’re pinning the opponent deep. I thought I had a complete round. Lot of practice.

MG: How does golf fit into your daily routine as you get ready for the season?

BB: It varies for sure. I use golf as my own decompression time. When I need some time to get out and clear my head, I’ll go play or practice. I’ve been playing at least once a weekend with some range time and maybe a round during the week. It’s been really good. Obviously, I’m fortunate to be in the position I am where I have a good support system. I was hesitant to do this because I wasn’t sure what would happen, but I had full support from my teammates and staff members.

Bryce Baringer, left, shot 69 at Stockbridge Golf Club to qualify for the 116th Massachusetts Amateur Championship. (Mass Golf)

MG: When the Patriots drafted you last year, were you able to play between that April and the start of training camp? 

BB: When I was drafted in April until July, I probably played just a handful of times (10-15 times) because I was so focused on football. I was trying to make the team. Maybe I didn’t play as much as I would have liked, but it all worked out. During the season, the clubs go in the closet. From the middle to the end of July until early to late January, I didn’t touch the clubs, and that will be common for me. When it’s time to work, it’s time to work. I think I do a good job of balancing that. I didn’t touch my clubs again until February, when my wife and I went to a simulator and played a bit. I like watching golf, and it’s hard not to be outside when we’ve had as nice of days as we’ve had.

MG: Who are some of the better golfers among your Patriots teammates? 

BB: [Cornerback] Marcus Jones is a good player, [quarterback] Jacoby Brissett is a good player, [tight end] Hunter Henry can poke it around pretty good. It’s fun to get out there with [kicker] Chad Ryland and [long snapper] Joe Cardona. I played a little bit of golf with [Quarterback] Bailey Zappe and [safety/special teamer] Brenden Schooler. We’ve got some guys that like getting out and playing. They’re learning the game, and it’s fun going out with your buddies and having a good time.

MG: Is it fair to say you’re the best of the group, at least among the special teamers? 

BB: Yes. Normally, I’m like, “Yeah, I’m alright,” but I’m pretty confident saying I can take on Joe and Chad. The rest of the team, I’ll take them on, too.

MG: What was the first course you played here in Mass? 

BB: It was either Heather Hill or Brookmeadow. I played those consistently. I also ventured up to Granite Links a few times. There’s some really good golf out in Boston.

MG: What’s the biggest difference you noticed between golf here and back in Michigan? 

BB: Where I grew up, there’s some terrain and topography. But then you go to a place here at Granite Links; there’s a lot of terrain and hills. At TPC Boston, the front nine is pretty flat, but the back nine has some uphill and downhill shots. A lot of courses where I’m from have a poa annua surface, while the grass here is bentgrass, but then the rough is a different type of grass. That’s one thing I’ve never seen.

MG: How valuable was it to have former PGA Tour pro Tom Gillis as a high school coach? 

BB: That was my senior year. His son and daughter were in our middle school, and we needed a golf coach. We had a good team. He always used to tell me to swing athletically. I’d get in a mode sometimes when I’m trying to guide the ball. He’d be telling me it’s no different than football. When I try to guide a punt in a certain manner, I’m not swinging freely and being athletic. It’s like when you’re trying too hard, bad things can happen. He said, “You’re an athlete. Be an athlete.”

MG: Are you planning to continue playing competitive golf? 

BB: Definitely. I almost use it as a tool. Right now, we’re on our break before training camp. For me, being able to do these types of events helps me keep my juices flowing. Being able to compete with myself and try to put my foot forward, no matter what I’m trying to do, is always good for self-improvement. It helps me stay competitive, and it helps me learn a lot about who I am as a player. I always say you’re only as good as what you show on the field and on film. There’s not a lot of film on the golf course. You’re only as good as your scorecard. Golf is very much like life. You’re rewarded for good things and penalized for bad things. It’s a game I appreciate because, during this time, I can compete with myself and compete against others. It’s a good time spent because it helps me stay in the moment and not get too far ahead of myself. Just like in football, if I have a good punt, I can have a good shot in golf, but then it’s on to the next one.