An Uncommon Path Leads to Golf’s Top Tier
He wasn’t a standout on the baseball or golf team. In fact, he wasn’t a student athlete at all. When Steve Bailey was a student at Radford University, he was an assistant in the Sports Information Department. Twelve years later, the 1998 graduate is in the middle of his first year as head coach for men’s golf at Marquette University.
How did this happen?
After receiving his communication degree, Bailey served one year as RU’s assistant sports information director before moving to the American Junior Golf Association (AJGA), where he coordinated tournament communications and public relations. In 2001, he was promoted to tournament director and was responsible for the administration of 13 AJGA championships.
While with the AJGA in Atlanta, Steve began attending a local church where he became a Christian.
“It forever changed my life and fortunately led me to where I am today,” he said.
Though Bailey was fortunate enough to work with the top junior players in the world (Hunter Mahan, Paula Creamer, Morgan Pressel, Anthony Kim and Webb Simpson) at AJGA, his new faith led him down a different path and away from golf.
“I needed to turn my life in a different direction and wanted to make more of an impact on the lives of others,” he said.
In December 2003, Bailey, a Virginia Beach native, reconnected with RU friend and women’s soccer player Bethany Hash ’01. Eighteen months later they were married.
Through Bethany, Steve was reunited with Chris Skinner ’02, a Radford fraternity brother. Skinner had been paralyzed three years earlier in a traffic accident involving a drunken driver. Despite being a quadriplegic, Skinner worked with Bailey to establish the “Chris Skinner Make It Count Association.” For a year and a half, Bailey and Skinner traveled across the United States speaking to high school and college students about making good decisions in life.
“Joining Chris on this journey ended up being one of the best decisions of my life,” Bailey said.
Then the golf industry presented Bailey with an opportunity that he couldn’t turn down. In August 2005 he was named the assistant coach at Northwestern University, where he worked with Patrick Goss, one of the top coaches in collegiate golf.
Goss, NCAA Coach of the Year in 1997 and current swing coach for Luke Donald, No. 3 in the Official World Golf Rankings, mentored Bailey for five years.
Bailey quickly established himself at Northwestern as one of the nation’s top recruiters. In addition to his 2008-09 nationally ranked class, Bailey’s Wildcat recruiting classes included six Junior All-Americans and three State Champions.
The 2008-09 class included South Korea native Eric Chun, who earned 2009 Big Ten Conference Freshman of the Year honors after becoming the first freshman since Steve Stricker to win the Big Ten individual championship, leading the Wildcats to their second NCAA Championship appearance during Bailey’s tenure.
Chun also qualified for, and played in, the 2010 British Open in St. Andrews, Scotland, where Bailey served as his caddie.
Bailey was part of a program at Northwestern that won a conference championship, had three individual league champions and produced seven Cleveland Golf All-America Scholars, and his contribution didn’t go unnoticed. He was promoted to associate head coach after just three years with the program.
That success eventually led to the Marquette opportunity. Now in his first season as head coach at Marquette, Bailey still possesses the same drive and values that carried him down the uncommon road to where he is now.