CLEAR LAKE — Clear Lake and golf. It’s history’s perfect pair, and the Lions are hoping to keep that tradition just as strong this spring whenever they’re able to hit the golf course.
Fresh off its seventh state title in school history, the Clear Lake boys golf team has aspirations of not letting up any time soon, even with a different look this time around. It’s that tradition that drives them.
“Just coming from the tradition of Clear Lake, that’s all we go for and it’s what sets us apart from other teams,” Clear Lake senior Jackson Hamlin said. “All six of us work together, we do almost everything together, and it’s just a mentality we share.”
Hamlin, the team’s lone senior, is one of only two Lions back from the team which won a Class 2A state championship last season. He and Tate Storbeck, the other holdover, are expected to do the lion's share of the scoring, but Clear Lake's strong tradition lies in heavy hitters and depth.
That’s where this team has to be at its best again, but Hamlin knows the responsibility starts with him as a leader.
“I think it’s really cool and a great opportunity, and it’s something I can learn from for the rest of my life,” he said. “It’s really cool being the top golfer, but I don’t have a problem with somebody being better than me on any day. That doesn’t worry me because they’re all capable of doing just as much.”
The Lions graduated their top three scorers by combined nine- and 18-hole averages, so getting others to step up early is the goal. The only thing standing in the way for Clear Lake, and pretty much every other team in North Iowa, is the weather.
No local course is open at the moment due to the snow still on the ground, so teams are forced into their high school gyms to take swings into a net. It’s a frustrating thing for an already short season, but Clear Lake coach Eric Perry is hoping an offseason’s load of work will pay off once the Lions are able to hit the course.
“They’ve worked hard in the summer, got tighter and continued growing, and hopefully that will continue once the season gets going,” the coach said. “But it’s an awful short time to base a season. It’ll have to happen in the first three or four meets, and they’ll have to be quick learners. They should have an advantage over most teams up North because of their experience.”
Junior Carter Backhaus and sophomore Jack Barragy each got a taste of varsity in a few tournaments last spring for the Lions, and Perry is hoping those two take the next step toward consistency this season. Somebody the Lions are excited about as well is sophomore Tyler Eaton, a transfer from Mason City and younger brother of former Mason City standout Sydney Eaton. He played JV for the Lions last spring.
With the memory of a state championship guiding them, the Lions think they’ll be just fine when it all comes together. This time it has to come up a class in 3A.
"I think it’s just a Clear Lake thing,” Hamlin said. “We have dominance in all sports because of the work that we do and the coaches pushing us all.”