Cart boys at Lawrence Country Club for five years now, Free State High seniors Evan Schmidt and Connor Klutman played themselves into the spotlight in the 6A regional tournament Monday at Meadowbrook Country Club in Prairie Village.
Both players qualified for the state boys high school golf tournament, scheduled for Monday at Alvamar Country Club. Lawrence High golfers Alex Thompson, who shot an 80, and Jon Cohen (81) also qualified to compete as individuals. Neither high school qualified as a team.
Schmidt fired a 76, good for sixth place, and Klutman fired a 79 and earned ninth place by winning a four-way playoff.
Schmidt and Klutman, classmates since kindergarten, don’t always grab the glory when they’re on a golf course. Their summer jobs require handling grunt work with a smile.
“Typical cart-boy stuff,” Klutman said. “Clean carts. Clean clubs. Kiss ass.”
Schmidt, son of Terry Schmidt, Lawrence CC’s general manager for the past 21 years, knows first-hand that having friends in high places isn’t necessarily a great thing. The Schmidt jobs weren’t always the desirable ones.
“Before I started working in the pro shop, I was upstairs cleaning,” Schmidt said. “Janitor work. Cleaning toilets.”
Did he like that work?
“No, not at all,” Schmidt said, smiling. “It was awful. I didn’t have much of a choice. It was that or get kicked out of the house.”
Neither boy complained about his current job.
“It’s possibly the best job you can have in high school,” Klutman said. “You get to be outside interacting with people. You don’t have to stand at a counter for eight hours.”
Klutman, the more talkative of the two state-bound golfers, said the random jobs they do include picking up the driving range golf balls and collecting the flags at the end of the day and locking them up so that they don’t get stolen.
Klutman and Schmidt said they also play the course together often after their team’s practice.
Asked why they enjoy playing together, Schmidt said, “I like that he doesn’t (gripe) every time he hits a bad shot, like most people do, especially at tournaments.”
Klutman said he enjoys playing with Schmidt because, “He’s always making jokes on the course. He’s just a good guy to be around. It’s kind of frustrating he hits the fairway almost every time. He hits his irons pretty well, too.”
Both agreed Klutman is the better putter, Schmidt the better ball-striker. The regional qualifier went far better for both golfers than it did a year ago at Alvamar Country Club, when Klutman carded a nine on the final hole to miss qualifying by three strokes, and Schmidt, as he put it, “blew up at regionals,” and shot a 101.
Klutman and Schmidt played on the same DCABA baseball teams — the Bulls, Bullets and Cardinals — and were youth basketball teammates. In the days leading up to the state tournament, they’ll be spending a lot of time golfing together. They hope to play some practice rounds at Alvamar Country Club, a tight layout.
“Randy Towner’s a friendly guy, so hopefully he’ll be able to help us out,” Klutman said of Alvamar Country Club’s head pro.
Klutman and Schmidt each said they have played the course, “five or six times.”