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Bryce Baringer shoots first-place 69 in Mass. Amateur golf qualifier

New England Patriots punter Bryce Baringer is finding ways to stay competitive this offseason, winning the 2024 Massachusetts Amateur Qualifier at Stockbridge Golf Club on Tuesday.

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Driving east on the Massachusetts Turnpike through the beautiful mountain ranges of Berkshire County, Bryce Baringer's wife Bella profusely refreshed the web browser on her smartphone for the majority of Tuesday afternoon.

She was looking at results through an app on MassGolf.com, where the New England Patriots Punter's name was at the top of the leaderboard. He'd just turned in a 1-under-par 69 at Stockbridge Golf Club, but nothing was certain with many tee times staggered after his.

By about 5 p.m. scores were finalized, giving Bella some much-needed relief. Baringer remained in first place of the qualifying round, thus making the cut for the 2024 Massachusetts Amateur Championship in July.

"I tried qualifying a few times back when I was at home living in Michigan and never made it through," Baringer told Patriots.com over the phone while making the drive back. "I thought it might be worth another shot -- it might be cool. I found out that the Massachusetts Amateur Championship is not too far away in Framingham and that it was still during our break. It's just a good time for me to be able just stay competitive, and I had full support from everybody. It was really cool."

That support system extends back home to Michigan, where he flew for Father's Day weekend to surprise his dad.

"I actually flew home Saturday night, surprised him and played in a father-son golf tournament with him on Sunday," Baringer shared.

"He was pumped for me, and obviously it's cool for us because I know how important golf is to him. Just to be able to make him proud, not just on the football field, but in a sport he so deeply cares about was cool for me."

It was Baringer's dad, Bruce, who first put a golf club in his hand when he was four years old.

"My dad's been a golfer ever since he was a teenager. He was actually going to play college golf at the University of Florida but his father got ill. He played at a community college outside Detroit and just around Michigan, so he put a club in my hand when I was a really young kid and I fell in love with it more and more as I grew up."

That passion for golf grew in tandem with his love for football and presented a difficult decision for Baringer to make by the time his senior year of high school rolled around.

His father would have been thrilled either way, and while the punter ultimately chose to pursue college football, he never walked away from golf.

"I love the decision I made," Baringer said. "Golf is still important to me. I relate golf to football and football to golf so much."

That much is true for a specialist.

"Punting seems so monotonous, but if you look around the league, there's so many ways to punt. Same thing with the way people golf. You have your own swing in football and golf. At the same time, I hit different types of punts depending on the situation we're in. It's the same thing in golf when you're trying to hit certain types of shots at certain distances. It's about your touch. It's very relatable in the way both require you to intentionally understand what you want it all to look like. You have to visualize."

Rather than taking anything away from his football preparation, Baringer believes golfing helps.

His teammates and coaches encouraged him to register for the event as it kept him competitive and focused during the offseason.

The round was no leisurely walk, either.

"We teed off and it was already 75 degrees at 7:50 in the morning," Baringer said. "I finished up and it had climbed to the 90s, so it kept getting hotter and hotter throughout the day, but it's gorgeous out there. You're in the middle of the mountain ranges. I have driven through here on my way to or from home, but when I found a place to qualify I had no clue where where Stockbridge was. It was a really, really pretty spot. We stayed in the country just ten minutes from the course. It was awesome."

Baringer came out and birdied his first hole of the day to set the tone Tuesday. Then he was humbled by a bogey and remained even at par through seven.

"Golf forces you to stay in the moment," Baringer said.

"I could have a good shot or a bad shot -- a good punt or a bad punt. All that matters is how you recover and how you come back. I think that's another big correlation."

Baringer made birdie on holes 8, 9, and 10. On the 14th, a long par 3, his tee shot landed in the bunker for bogey. After that, he realized his line on a drive he'd perceived to be perfect had actually been misjudged. Baringer had to re-tee.

"I was even par going into 17, and in my head I just knew if I get out of 17 and 18 with two pars I'll be in good shape," Baringer recalled.

"I pared 17 and made a birdie to finish out on 18. I shot a 69. One under, so it was good."

What Baringer doesn't mention is that his 18th-hole birdie entailed a 25-foot putt to win. The clutch shot earned him medalist honors and the chance to advance to the 2024 Mass. Amateur Championship at Framingham Country Club on July 8.

"You're only as good as what you put on tape in football," Baringer said.

"You're not posting every score to your handicap when you play golf with your friends, but when it matters like this, it's important to get the job done. That's how I think about it with football. You have a job to do and you have to do it."

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