Prep golf: Baker takes medalist honors in leading Cloquet to Class AA boys state golf championship

Lumberjacks senior birdies final hole of his high school career.

Cloquet’s Sam Baker watches his tee shot fly through the air on the fourth hole of the East Course at Nemadji Golf Course Wednesday morning May 5, 2021 in Superior. (Jed Carlson /

JORDAN, Minn. — Two older gentlemen were cruising around the Ridges at Sand Creek golf course in Jordan Wednesday and grinning from ear to ear as they drove their golf cart over to Hole No. 10.

The driver, Bob Baker, said, “I’m Sam Baker’s grandpa, and Jim (Crowley) here is Sam’s other grandpa, and we’re enjoying the hell out of this.”

And it only got better.

Cloquet senior Sam Baker shot a 1-over-par 73 — including a birdie on the par-5 496-yard Hole No. 18 — to win the Minnesota Class AA boys golf title with a one-stroke victory over Staples-Motley senior Beck Erholtz, leading the Lumberjacks to an 18-stroke team victory over Totino-Grace.

Baker finished with a two-day total of 3-under 68-73—141, compared to 71-71—142 for Erholtz, while Cloquet eighth-grader Karson Young finished fifth with a 76-73—149.


Baker initially thought he and Erholtz had tied until teammate Trevor Steinert, who had been watching Erholtz finish up, came over and told Baker. It would have ended as a tie, per league rules, though Baker was ready for sudden death.

“I was actually putting and getting ready for a playoff,” he said. “It was just exciting. I really didn’t have a whole lot of words, but yes, this ranks at the top.”

While Baker and Erholtz played together in Tuesday’s opening round, they were in different foursomes Wednesday, with Baker finishing on No. 18 and Erholtz on No. 9 as the Minnesota State High School League tries to square off the top teams’ golfers group by group.

But that “that made it difficult,” Baker admitted, in terms of going for medalist honors.

Baker appeared to be in the driver’s seat after carding a birdie on Hole No. 16 as he drained a killer 10-foot putt, or at least, it felt like a killer to his mother, Pam Baker.

“That scared me to death,” she said, patting her hand on her chest.

However, Sam Baker gave it right back with a bogey on No. 17 as his seven-foot downhill par putt edged the right-side of the cup.

As Baker and his coach, Aaron Young, walked over to No. 18, Young asked Baker, “Do you want to know the leaderboard?” And Baker said, “Yeah.” And Young told him, “(Erholtz) just eagled No. 7.”


Erholtz also had a hole-in-one on the day, on No. 15, and even Baker had to tip his cap, saying “that’s pretty impressive.”

Erholtz’s late eagle caused Baker to approach his final hole knowing he needed a birdie on No. 18, and he did just that.

“I needed to go for it,” Baker said.

Baker played that final hole like a pro. He stuck the green on the more favorable low side about 40 feet from the hole. His putt left him with not much more than a tap-in.

"My favorite shot is one that goes in, but that was quite the putt," Aaron Young said of the 40-footer.

To Erholtz’s credit, he made it interesting, though he had no idea just how interesting.

“Pretty much through 15 holes I had no clue where he was at,” Erholtz said of Baker. “But then we popped up the hill after No. 6 — that’s where you get service again — so I loaded up the scoreboard and saw I was two back. He was teeing off on 17, and I was teeing off on 7 and I said to my coach, ‘I needed to make something happen.’”

Erholtz sure did, nailing No. 7 only to hit the drink on the next hole.


“I just hit one a little too hard and left,” said Erholtz, a North Dakota State golf recruit. “I just had to realize it, whatever you do, miss to the right, but I hit a little to the left, not trying to, and that’s what happens.

“I like chasing more than I like being in the lead, but being in the lead would be easier to win, you know, because you are ahead of everyone (he drew a laugh). You’re playing the same golf course, but with a little cushion. But no, I had a lot of fun today, even though I didn’t bring my best stuff.”

Baker was stellar in Tuesday’s opening round before stumbling late. He was 6-under through 16 holes before going bogey-bogey on his final two holes, which on Monday were Nos. 8 and 9.

“It definitely stirred the pot a little bit,” Baker said. “Everything came a lot easier to me yesterday — I didn’t miss a green yesterday until the end. I kind of had to scrap around today, but I got the job done.”

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