Boys Golf

Northwest Herald 2021 Boys Golfer of the Year: Crystal Lake Central’s Eric Klutke

Tigers senior repeats as POY, leads Central to 2nd-best finish in school history

Crystal Lake Central’s Eric Klutke qualified for state as a sophomore, tying for ninth, and would have went last year if not for the COVID-19 pandemic wiping out the state tournament.

This season, however, may have been the best one yet as the sweet-swinging lefty got to experience state with his friends and teammates. Central captured the Class 2A Sycamore Sectional title by seven shots and went on to place fifth at state, the second-best finish in school history.

Klutke tied Tyson Malak for the best area finish at the Class 2A state meet with a two day-score of 72-75-147, tying for 13th, while two of his teammates [Bayden Hubacher and Christian Wakeford] also finished in the top 35.

On the first day of the state tournament, Central fired a season-low 305.

Before state, Klutke claimed medalist honors at the 2A Marengo Regional with a 73, and placed sixth at the 2A Sycamore Sectional with a 75. Central also won back-to-back Fox Valley Conference titles, beating Burlington Central on a fifth-score tiebreaker at the FVC Tournament.

For his accomplishments, Klutke was voted Northwest Herald Boys Golfer of the Year by the sports staff with input from area coaches. Klutke also won the award in 2020. He’s the first repeat winner since Prairie Ridge’s Ethan Farnam won in 2015 and 2016.

Klutke talked with sports writer Alex Kantecki about the state golf experience, his favorite hobbies, going somewhere warmer and more.

What was your favorite TV show as a kid?

Klutke: I enjoyed a lot of the Disney shows as a kid. And Golf Channel.

What are some of your favorite hobbies?

Klutke: I enjoy biking, and playing football or hockey on the lake. I used to race RC [remote control] cars when I was younger.

What is your most prized possession?

Klutke: I like my golf clubs a lot. I clean them after every round. And I like to keep good care of my car, wash it and keep it in good shape.

Who is your favorite teacher?

Klutke: [Science teacher] Molly Czeslawski and [Social sciences teacher] Bill Altmann.

Which celebrity would you most like to hang with for a day?

Klutke: Arnold Palmer and Tiger Woods. I think it would be fun playing and hanging out with them.

What are three of your favorite sports movies?

Klutke: “Happy Gilmore,” “Caddyshack” and “Ford v. Ferrari”

Who on your team inspires you?

Klutke: I’d say [senior] Bayden [Hubacher]. We’re always competing and going head-to-head.

What personal accomplishment are you most proud of?

Klutke: This summer, I had a decent summer. I felt like I had a better season last year [in high school] than this season, but we didn’t have state. This year, the high school season I was pretty happy with it because we went to state, even though I didn’t play how I wanted.

What is the best part of the state experience?

Klutke: Going as a team. I enjoyed it more than when I went by myself during sophomore year. Going as a team is a different experience. We got to go out to dinner, just hang out and the hotel was a lot of fun.

Who on your team makes you laugh the most?

Klutke: Bayden, for sure. But also the two freshmen on the team this year, Charles Polash and Jack Bice. They like to mess around. At state, I roomed with Charles Polash, and when I went over to Bayden’s room, he hid my golf clubs around the room.

What was your favorite moment from this past season?

Klutke: Being down at state. One night, we went to Buffalo Wild Wings and when we got back to the hotel, we were putting balls down the long hallway. [Senior] Ethan Bass hit one between two doors and it went back and forth. Both people came out and we all ran.

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?

Klutke: Naples, Florida, because the weather is a lot nicer. But it gets hot in the summer, so I’d want a house back here.

What is your favorite fast food?

Klutke: Chick-fil-A. I usually get the chicken sandwich and their chocolate milkshakes.

What’s the best piece of coaching advice you’ve ever received?

Klutke: Go out, have fun and don’t overthink things. Play your game and enjoy it.

If you could change one thing about golf, what would it be?

Klutke: Probably where we live because we lose four months of the year to snow and that is a disadvantage compared to the southern part of the country and kids getting to play year round. That gives them more exposure to colleges and stuff. Golf is so much bigger down there.

Who is your favorite professional golfer?

Klutke: I like Justin Thomas. He seems like he just enjoys the game and has a good attitude.

Do you model your game or swing of anybody?

Klutke: My swing right now is sort of looking like Dustin Johnson’s, at the top of the swing. I sort of watch other people’s swings and think about how I can improve mine.

Which professional sports team has the best uniform?

Klutke: The Bulls uniform is cool, but I like the Blackhawks.

What’s the hardest part about golf?

Klutke: The mental side of golf. You’ve got to stay focused the whole round. If you ever come off your focus, one bad shot can lead to a big number and a bad attitude, which I’ve seen a lot. I usually feel like I’m good at keeping my head in the right spot.

What will you remember most about your high school career?

Klutke: My teammates. This whole team has been here since freshmen year, mostly. It’s been me, Bayden, [Christian Wakeford] and Ethan Bass. And last year we had Jack Benoit. I’ll remember going to state two times and how we did at regional, sectionals, state and conference – those big meets. Probably won’t remember the [dual] matches that much.