Cloquet golfer goes on the road
December 20, 2019
Things have gotten pretty interesting for Cloquet junior Sam Baker over the past few months. Last spring he was part of the CEC golf team, which finished third in the state, and this fall he put himself on the radar of Division 1 colleges with an impressive top-four finish at the prestigious Tim Herron College Prep Tour. By virtue of that finish, he was rewarded with a trip to play golf in Florida.
The Tim Herron College Prep Tour is the brainchild of Tim Herron, a longtime PGA Tour professional, and Phil Ebner, the boys' head golf coach at Edina High School.
"Over a span of five weeks, we played at four different courses," said Baker. "We golfed at Northland Country Club, Somerby Golf Club, Olympic Hills Golf Club and Windsong Farm Golf Club."
Of the state's top 30 players invited to the Tim Herron College Prep Tour, the top 10 were invited to play in Florida in early December.
"I was down there December 6-9 and played three rounds," Baker said. "I started the first round a little rough, but then I shot a 76 at the Fox Club and 76 at West Palm Beach Country Club, so that's not bad, for not playing for a while and playing with a broken thumb."
Baker, a junior defensemen on the CEC boys hockey team, injured his thumb in the opening game of the season Nov. 21 against Proctor and has had his thumb in a cast since then.
"I took the cast off when I went to Florida and then put it back on when I got back home," Baker explained.
Cast or no cast, Baker is a very good golfer and is just starting to scratch the surface of his potential on the golf course, according to his coaches.
"Sam is a really good player and has the potential to be great," said assistant Cloquet boys hockey coach Matt Carlson. "He has a great swing and he hits the ball a mile, for a tall slender kid. He is a great ball striker, struggles with the putter at times (don't we all!), but when he has it all clicking, he is as good as anyone in the state. Right now he is working on being more consistent."
At this point, college golf coaches are taking notice of the long-hitting junior. With his recent success, it is just a matter of time before he has even more colleges picking up the phone.
"He would be considered a top-20 golfer in Minnesota right now," Carlson said. "He is a great kid who works hard at golf."
One can only wonder how well Baker would have played if he had been at full strength. However, it won't be long, and he'll be able to not only golf again at 100 percent, but he will once again be back in the Lumberjack hockey lineup.
"I get my cast off on Dec. 26," Baker said. "That's right before we go down for the Christmas hockey tournament, so I'll be back for that."
That's great news for Cloquet hockey and golf fans, but even better news for the coaches of those two sports.