She holds the Michigan record for career scoring average, as well as the program’s highest single season scoring average.
She shot a seven-under 65 in the second round of this year’s Big Ten Championships — the best score ever recorded in conference history.
And she holds more Michigan athletic records than Tom Brady and Jalen Rose — combined. Not to mention, she just recently graduated from the Ross School of Business, one of the top business schools in the country.
In a sports world where criminal records and bad attitudes are apparently becoming the norm, Ashley Bauer’s teammates and coaches paint her as a breath of fresh air.
“She is the nicest person you will meet in your entire life,” former teammate and best friend Andrea Ratigan said.
But after getting to know the Bauer family, it isn’t difficult to figure out how Ashley became the person and athlete that she is today.
Developing a Love for the Game
Bauer grew up in Grand Blanc, about an hour away from Ann Arbor, and as a young girl, her parents, Jackie and Glen, were always looking to keep her and her two sisters — Meagan, now a junior and Shana, a sophomore — busy.
So they turned to sports.
“We exposed them to everything,” Glen said of his three daughters — the younger two are currently on the Michigan women’s golf team. “They played tennis, golf, piano, every sport and every activity. The reason was for them to stay active and other things that typically keep kids out of trouble.”
While playing sports and being involved in other activities kept the kids busy, golf provided the family with an opportunity to keep busy, but also enjoy time together,
“I wanted something that (Glen) could do with the kids, so that they could spend more time with him,” Jackie said. “It worked out pretty well.”
“When we got married, my wife said, ‘Hey, we are going to do stuff as a family,’ ” Glen said. “So I’d just start taking the girls to the range with me, and that’s how it all started.”
When Ashley was six, she started playing in a Flint junior golf league program once a week. And as Meagan and Shana became old enough, Glen would take them out on the course together. Jackie would often join her husband and kids — but mainly for moral support.
“I’m horrible (at golf),” Jackie said with a laugh. “I was there to make sure they could all beat me, and it stayed that way.”
A Determined Competitor
Ashley’s competitive spirit became apparent at a very young age — as most of her friends were out at the pool during the summer, she would be out at the driving range doing what she loved.
Reflecting back on Ashley’s younger years, Glen remembered a story from the summer before Ashley started high school, when Ashley had just lost a tournament in a playoff hole.
“We’re coming home and she was beating herself up and I was like, ‘Hey Ash, this is a silly little game, you can’t do that,’ ” Glen recounted. “We got home, and I told her, ‘You just cannot treat yourself like that. If it’s going to be like this, I don’t know if this is really the game for you.’ So we got home and she’s like, ‘Dad, I’m changing my socks and shoes and we’re going to the range.’ I’ll never forget that day.”
It was that determination and competitive spirit that helped Ashley become one of the best players in the state of Michigan. But heading into her high school years at Grand Blanc High School, Ashley’s golfing ability was still relatively unknown — at least to her future high school coach Martha Ryan.
Ryan didn’t meet Ashley until the spring of 2004, and she had no idea what kind of golfer Ashley was going to be. It didn’t take her long to find out, because in the first tournament of her high school career, Ashley’s potential shone.
“She was in the 80s and she had an incredible amount of putts,” Ryan recalled. “I thought, ‘How could she be in the 80s with all those putts?’ And then I thought, ‘Duh, you harness this girl and she’s gonna be good.’ And from there she just got better and better.”
As she continued to improve, Ashley decided that she wanted to play college golf, and as any father would, Glen was willing to do whatever he could to help his daughter achieve that goal.
“One day, Ashley was like, ‘Dad, I want to play college golf,’” Glen said. “And I was like, ‘Wow, what does that mean?’ So I had to understand what it would take to help to get her there. It was her desire. It was she who told me, ‘Hey Dad, I want to go try for the next level.’ ”
That combination of Ashley’s desire and her father’s support led her to a tremendous amount of success.
While achieving nearly every plausible goal that she had in high school, Ashley remained humble, yet confident in her high school years, never failing to give credit to the people around her.
“Coach Ryan is a great lady,” she said. “She did really well with the program. At one point, I think there were three or four girls on our team that played Division I golf. We were a pretty good team. I think we lost maybe one tournament in four years, and maybe one match. I just had an attitude where I was expecting to win, and I didn’t know any differently.”
From a coach’s perspective, Ryan couldn’t have asked for a better player to coach.
“You can’t say enough nice things about her,” Ryan said. “That sounds rather trite, but she really is everything that you would want. She is a really fun person, good personality, well liked by everybody, a natural born leader … I could go on and on. She is somebody that you will always remember.”
Becoming a Wolverine
After a stellar high school career, Ashley quickly became more and more well known in the golfing world. After her senior year in 2006, the Junior Golf Scoreboard ranked her as the nation’s 47th-best golfer. She began receiving calls from schools down south, such as Louisville and Kentucky.
“I originally wanted to go down south and play somewhere with warmer weather,” Ashley said. “But I realized that that would make me homesick, so I came and started looking a little bit closer.”
She received an official invite to visit Michigan, and after that visit, there was no doubt that Ann Arbor was the place for her.
“I came here and I loved it,” she said. “I cancelled the rest of my visits right afterward. It was a done deal. I knew it was going to be a challenge and it wasn’t going to be easy, but it was a challenge that I was up for.”
When she first arrived on campus, Ashley didn’t quite know what to expect. She wanted to contribute to the team right away, but she was unsure when she would get that opportunity.
But it didn’t take long to fulfill that uncertainty.
She qualified for the team’s first tournament of the year at the Lady Northern Invitational. In the two-day tournament, she shot 76-78, good for third on the team and 17th overall in the 72-player field. From then on, Ashley would compete in every Michigan golf event for the rest of her career.
“I had expectations, but, looking back, it’s kind of like I was just working through the motions,” Ashley said of her freshman year. “I really had no idea what was going on. It was just a whirlwind. It was fun and crazy, but I really didn’t know what I was doing.”
Adding to her college experience was the arrival of her two sisters, Meagan and Shana, to the Michigan golf team. But Meagan, the middle sister of the three, was a little skeptical when she first arrived in Ann Arbor.
“Going into it, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to (go to Michigan) because I kind of wanted to have my own identity,” Meagan said.
But after two years of playing on the same team as her older sister, Meagan has no doubts that she made the right decision in deciding to play for Michigan.
For Shana, the decision to play for Michigan was a pretty simple one.
“After Meagan decided to go there, just because we are all so close, it became one of my main options for school,” Shana said. “I looked at other places, but in the end, a big part of it was that they were there, and I was very close to them.”
With Ashley now graduated, it will be up to Meagan and Shana to carry on the Bauer family name — in their own ways. While they are proud of what their sister has accomplished, they are ready to create their own legacies at Michigan. This past season, Meagan owned the team’s third-highest scoring average, and she will look to improve on that heading into next season.
“I am just so excited for Ashley and what she’s done,” Meagan said. “For me, I am a totally different person. I have high hopes for myself and our team, and I don’t know exactly what we’re going to accomplish and what I’m going to accomplish. But I’m practicing, and I want to do the best that I can.”
Shana, in her first year on the team, only appeared in one tournament this past spring and is hoping to play a bigger role on the team next year.
“I think next year is going to be a huge adjustment just because Ashley, in my first year, was such a big help to me,” Shana said. “She always took me places and told me what to do and what not to do, so it will kind of be like starting all over again because I won’t have her there. I didn’t have a good season this year, obviously, but I know with hard work, I can accomplish a lot and just try to get to what she (Ashley) could do.”
And while Meagan and Shana learn to adjust to college life without their older sister, Ashley will be transitioning to a new life of her own as well.
From the Links to the Office
While there is no question that Ashley has the necessarily skill-set to make it in professional golf, she has decided that is not the path she would like to take with her life.
“I’ve thought about it a lot and gone back and forth with it,” Ashley said, “but I really don’t think that that is the lifestyle for me. It’s tough. It’s tough to make it.”
Like they have throughout Ashley’s entire life, Glen and Jackie supported their daughter’s decision, 100 percent. But Glen has his own theory as to why Ashley is choosing to stay away from professional golf.
“I think the reason she’s not going pro is because she didn’t want me as her caddy,” he joked. “But seriously, I think after talking with a lot of pros, it’s the lifestyle that bothers her. We’ve talked about it. We’ve said we’ll support her in whatever she decides to do.”
Even though she has made the decision to not pursue professional golf, Ashley’s golf career isn’t over yet. She just recently competed at the World University Golf Championship, and she will play in a few other tournaments throughout the duration of the summer.
But come the end of August, she will set the golf clubs aside and head into the business world to start her new job in operations and consulting for Accretive Health. As of now, she is uncertain exactly where she will be working, but in spite of the unknown, there is no doubt that Ashley Bauer’s career will go down as one of the best in Michigan women’s golf and women’s sports history.
“Absolutely I am excited and proud of what she has accomplished athletically,” Glen said. “But from an academic standpoint, to do what she accomplished at Michigan is awesome. She has stayed true to who she is. She has an incredible amount of honesty and integrity, and a passion. No matter what she does, she does it with a passion.”