Bennett Klostermann faced dilemma entering his junior year at Dyersville Beckman.
Do something great or continue doing a few activities well. Klostermann decided to concentrate his efforts on golf, leaving football behind, and he couldn’t be happier with his choice.
Klostermann will attempt to qualify for a fourth straight state tournament at an Iowa High School Athletic Association Class 2A boys’ prep golf district meet Friday at Gates Park Golf Course in Waterloo. Districts for 3A, 2A and 1A will be held across the state Friday with golfers and teams competing for berths to the state tournament May 28-29.
Klostermann hung up his football cleats for golf spikes before moving on to the varsity, so he could continue to improve his golf game, playing practice rounds and tournaments in the late summer and fall.
“That’s when I really decided to tro to pursue golf and try to play golf in college and at the highest level,” Klostermann said. “I had to decide if I wanted to try to split time and not know what’s going to happen with either one and maybe be mediocre or really try to set my goals high. I had to quit football and put so much time into golf.”
The product of his decision was his first top-10 2A state meet finish. After placing in a tie for 22nd as a sophomore, Klostermann was 10th at last year’s state tournament. It also helped land an offer he accepted to play golf for the University of Northern Iowa next year.
“I love football,” Klostermann said, “but I think it was the right decision in the end.”
This season, he’s been one of the state’s top golfers, capturing the Wamac conference individual title. He advanced to the district meet with a fourth-place sectional finish last week at Cascade, and is on the verge of a state, yet again.
Reaching the state meet or even a top-10 finish is nice, but the Blazers senior has his eyes on the top prize.
“He’s got the No. 1 position on his mind right now,” Beckman Coach Darin Michels said. “That’s his ultimate goal. I think he’ll do everything he can to get it.”
Klostermann said he felt he was a state title contender last year, but suffered a bad first round, opening with a 3-putt hole, pressed too much to make up the strokes and ended with an 86.
He increased his work in the offseason, devoting time last summer and winter to get mentally and physically prepared for the spring golf season. The effort during the offseason the last few years will be worthwhile if he can make state and post two solid rounds at Panora’s Lake Panorama National Resort.
“All this hard work would finally pay off,” Klostermann said. “If I would sit back and look at this I wouldn’t want it to end any other way.”
Michels said Klostermann’s strength is a accurate short game. At one point during last week’s sectional, Klostermann hit just 1 of 14 fairways, but he still managed to tie four players with the second-best score of79.
“He’s a good chipper and putter,” Michels said. “From 100 yards in, he’s right on.”
He honed those skills playing at Dyersville Golf and Country Club. The short course demanded a strong short game to shoot well.
“In order to score out there you need to learn how to hit your wedges,” Klostermann said. “If you can chip and putt or put it close you almost always have the chance to go low.
“I practice a lot on that when I was younger. That always helps. I can always rely on that.”
The Blazers can always rely on Klostermann and his leadership. He has guided the team and has mentored a number of freshmen, taking them under his wing. He also sets up practices and nurtures team bonding, according to Michels.
“He’s the glue that holds them together,” Michels said. “He’s a true leader. He’ll do anything he needs to do to get the kids where they want to be.”
Where this team wants to be is the state tournament for the fourth straight year. The Blazers will have their hands full, battling Waterloo Columbus, Denver and sectional champion Gladbrook-Reinbeck for a team berth to state. Beckman won’t be at full strength for the second straight postseason.
Ryan Steffen, the Blazers No. 3 golfer, missed the sectional meet due to a broken hand and will compete Friday, despite still nursing the injury. Michels think the team will rally after playing tight last Friday.
“They’ve been under pressure for four years here,” Michels said. “They have one goal in mind and that’s to get back to the state tournament. Hopefully, have a chance at a state title.”