It’s not an expectation anymore but rather a tradition for the Windermere High School boys golf team to win districts, advance to regionals and qualify to states.
“I think our program that has been going for these many years has sort of allowed the team to just step up,” head golf coach Eric Bacon said.
The Wolverines have won their district meet every year since the school opened in 2017.
“This program is about (the players) understanding that team golf is a little bit different than junior golf,” Bacon said. “In junior golf, you are so focused on yourself. In team golf, you have to not go after all the shots that you might go for; you have to place for your teammates. So, teaching them that, teaching them the teams we play are not our opponents, the golf courses are. Teaching them how to plan for the golf courses it’s always a fun thing for us (as well as) how to make them better golfers.”
Junior Carson Baez, 16, has been playing for the Wolverines since his freshman year. His brother, sophomore Cameron Baez, 15, joined his sophomore year. Together, the Baez brothers are excited to compete on the same team, playing the sport they love and have been involved in for a decade.
“It’s (our) first time getting to states together, and it’s just great to see how all the progress has paid off and all the hard work,” Carson Baez said. “This is the type of thing that we have looked forward to when since we were younger. Just being able to be a part of it together, though, we now know that we feel proud that we were able to get here. We knew that just with patience and hard work, we would be able to do it.”
The Baez brothers led the team in both the district and the regional meets. Carson Baez took the individual medalist at district after shooting a 68, and Cameron Baez led the team at regionals after shooting a 69.
The team is currently on an eight-win streak. Being one of the youngest teams since the beginning of the program has helped the players buy into what Bacon teaches on a daily basis.
“They are open to see what the team has done in the past, open to what I have to say,” he said. “I make it so it’s a whole team buy-in. … They are doing what I’m asking them to do, so that’s always a good thing.”
One of the skills that has been engrained in the Wolverines golf game throughout the season is the understanding of the each course they play.
“Typically, we travel to most parts of the state (during our season),” Bacon said. “We always try to play the most difficult teams we can find and the more difficult courses just so that we are not always playing on the same course.”
The Wolverines are the No. 2 seed heading into states. However, the golf course where the states championship takes place each year is a challenging one — Mission Inn Resort and Club, in Howey-In-The-Hills.
“(That) golf course we are going to play is completely different than all the golf courses we’ve played along so far, so they are going to have a challenge,” Bacon said. “Now they are playing on hills, which they normally don’t do. The greens are very difficult, because they are fast. … And every year at states, the wind starts to blow.”
The Wolverines are optimistic heading in that they can overtake the standings and come home with a state championship.
“We have been planning about how we can tear up the entire course, and I feel we can be as good as anyone, if not better,” Carson Baez said. “We are excited to come home after the final round with the state trophy in our hands.”
“Going to states, I think we have a good chance at taking it,” Cameron Baez said.
Both brothers are the first in their family to set foot on a golf course as players. Their end goal is to be able play collegiate golf and hopefully, one day, make it to the PGA Tour.