Who are Eric Cole’s parents? All about his famous parents

Eric Cole

Eric Cole narrowly lost the Honda Classic in late February, missing out on the chance to emulate his father, Bobby Cole, who won the 1977 Buick Open. If Eric continues his upward trajectory, he’ll get his maiden PGA Tour win soon. Eric’s mother, Laura Baugh, a former golf pro, comforted him after his unlucky loss. 

“Spent a little more time playing with her [Laura] growing up,” Eric told NBC’s Golf Channel after the tournament’s second round. “But they [parents] have both helped a lot. Like at a younger age, as a junior, I played more with my mom and we kind of hit it similar distances.”

Eric’s mother was a promising golfer who never won an LPGA tournament

Laura Baugh
Laura Baugh in action, circa 1974 | Photo by Leonard Kamsler/Popperfoto via Getty Images

Laura Baugh was born in Gainesville, Florida, in May 1955 to Olympian Hale Baugh. Hale, a pentathlete at the 1948 Summer Olympics, was an accomplished amateur golfer who introduced his children to golf. 

“He [Hale] picked me and my two brothers up and we’d play at the Cocoa Rockledge Country Club,” Laura told The Florida Times-Union. “My dad and I were always a team, against my brothers. We played every day.”

After her parents’ divorce, Laura moved to California with her mother. Laura lacked the money to access golf courses, so she and her friends snuck in to play. “It was nothing but school and golf,” she added. 

The effort and determination paid off: aged 14, she won the Los Angeles Women’s City Golf Championship, a feat she repeated the following year; in 1971, she became the youngest U.S. Women’s Amateur champion. 

In 1972, Golf Digest named Laura the ‘Most Beautiful Golfer’. Before launching her professional career, Laura decided to capitalize on the hype surrounding her appearance. After signing with IMG, Laura became an international star. She said:

“We did commercials in Japan and exhibitions and clinics all over. There was a lot of money to be made and I did it. My mother and I had been living on less than moderate income and I had the opportunity to make money the other girls didn’t have.”

Many expected Laura to collect multiple professional wins, but she failed to live up to expectations. During her nearly three-decade career, she notched 10 runners-up and 71 top-10 finishes but no wins. Laura said that raising children impacted her golf career:

“I didn’t realize I would start having all these children and that my priorities would change. It was that simple. When I was 22, I always thought there would be plenty of time to play. But with children, the priority of going out and hitting golf balls changes.”

Laura raised Eric, born on 12th June 1988, alongside his six siblings. 

Laura turned to alcohol to deal with her sorrow, which almost killed her

Laura’s problems with alcohol started in the mid-1980s. Alcohol calmed her nerves and temporarily relieved a tremor in her hands. With time, she became increasingly dependent on alcohol. 

Though Laura denied she had a problem, the toll alcohol had taken on her career and life was clear as day. Laura acknowledged her alcoholism after a near-death experience at Sand Lake Hospital in Orlando in 1996: internal bleeding caused by heavy drinking almost killed her. 

“It was a matter of living or dying,” Laura wrote in her 1999 book Out of the Rough. I was ill. It became a choice. I did not have all the answers but other people did and I asked for help. God has given me the opportunity to be of service.”

Laura hasn’t had a drink since she checked into the Betty Ford Clinic in 1996. She told The Florida Times-Union that she views her alcoholism as a blessing. Laura explained:

“It’s made me teachable, grateful, accountable. I understand other people’s challenges. It’s given me depth, given me purpose and it has totally been a blessing. I know that’s a weird way of putting it.”

Eric learned the struggles of a professional golf career when traveling with his mom on tour

With two pro golfers as parents, Eric’s introduction to golf was almost inevitable. 

bobby cole
Bobby Cole teeing off during the Tournament Players Championship at Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, circa March 1987 | Keith Hailey/Popperfoto via Getty Images

Bobby, Eric’s father, had more success on the course than Laura. The South African won the 1977 Buick Open and had nine top-25 finishes in the major championships. Bobby won the South African Open twice and the South African PGA Championship once. 

Eric was an athletic youngster who played several sports, including basketball. Despite topping the scoring charts often, Eric realized his future lay elsewhere: his 5’9″ frame undermined his chances of professional success in the sport. 

Therefore, Eric decided to focus on golf. “I got to maybe eighth grade or something like that, I realized I should be focusing on golf,” he told The Quad-City Times

Eric told the outlet that Bobby helped sharpen his technical skills while Laura worked on his mentality. He added that he enjoyed playing with Laura because he could compete with her:

“When I was little she hit the ball shorter so it was more relatable. Like we hit the clubs the same distances at a younger age versus my dad was always — it kind of seemed hard to do what he did.”

Eric’s travels with his mom on tour exposed him to the struggles of professional golf. Laura told The Seattle Times that the experience prepared Eric for a future as a golf pro. She said:

“You see non success, you see success, you see how you’re away from your family, how badly do you want it. You see things like that sooner than if your parents weren’t involved with golf. You see success comes from hard work, period.”

Eric’s parents teach golf in Florida and continue contributing to his success

Laura and Bobby still train Eric – he hasn’t had a trainer outside his family. They also teach golf students in Jacksonville, Florida, and South Florida. 

After accepting a teaching position at Sawgrass Country Club, Laura told The Florida Times-Union that she always felt the urge to teach. “It’s a natural thing for a golfer to want to teach,” Laura said.

Laura stated that she uses her father’s methods to instruct her students. “My idea is to teach the golfer the way I was taught,” Laura stated. “If a young lady wants to hit it longer, she can. If a young man wants to have a better short game, he can. I like the students to know why they’re doing something.”