Date: November 04, 2016
Author: Mark Hayes

Louis’ rise anything but uniform

A father and daughter approached Louis Dobbelaar after he won this week’s New Zealand Amateur Championship.

The young Queenslander later estimated she was eight years of age.

“It was amazing. They were both polite and the dad told me that she had been really inspired by watching us play the tournament and that she was so honoured to meet me,” Dobbelaar said.

“He just said that she would go out and practise what she’d seen and that was really cool.

“I’ve never had that before.”

No. And there’s a fairly good reason why.

Dobbelaar, whose victory at Royal Wellington Golf Club made him the youngest person to ever have won the NZ national title, turned 15 on August 31.

If you’re contemplating that date, it’s not quite a year AFTER Cathy Freeman won gold in Sydney.

Feeling old?

Well spare a thought for poor Louis.

“I just don’t even know what I was doing at that age,” he said in reference to his young Kiwi fan.

“But it wasn’t golf. That’s really cool that she enjoyed it like that. Very cool.”

They’re the words of someone far older in thought than the numbers on his birth certificate.

Dobbelaar was asked by eager Kiwi journalists after his remarkable 2&1 triumph over former professional Peter Spearman-Burn whether it stood him in good stead for a return to Royal Wellington next year when the famous old club becomes the first New Zealand club to host the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship.

His response confirmed his impressively perceptive thoughts on his standing – and the amount of improvement he believes remains in his game.

“I’d love to come back and play. I know the course pretty well,” said Dobbelaar, a country member at the club with his father’s family living just around the corner.

“But there’s a lot of things that have to happen first.”

Dobbelaar, whose skills were honed around the challenging Brookwater layout near Ipswich but who has recently taken up membership at The Brisbane Golf Club, is well aware that despite his recent airplay that he’s the 56th-ranked Australian in the world amateur standings.

Refreshingly, despite his status in the Queensland Academy and national squads, he’s well aware his age and development mean he’s a work in progress.

And even more importantly, he’s got a brilliant ethic to maintain his current trajectory.

“It was fantastic to win and I’ve really been enjoying everything that has happened afterwards,” he said.

“But I know it’s just part of what (coach) Grant (Field) and the squads have us all on track to achieve.

“It’s great, but hopefully if we all keep working at it, I’ll get to that position when I can play in things like the Asian Amateur.

“But there’s a lot of guys ahead of me right now and I have to keep working hard to get there.”

Dobbelaar won a quality final despite being 3-down through 29 holes – his steady hands and head proved the key to winning five consecutive holes before a par on the 35th sealed victory.

But the final was just one remarkable chapter of Dobbelaar's incredible run to the title.

An epic semi-final tussle with highly rated New Zealander Luke Toomey ended when Dobbelaar chipped in to win on the 21st hole.

He'd earlier won his quarter-final on the 19th hole and his Round of 32 match on the 20th to steel his nerves for the run that followed.

But if you aren’t already sold on what makes Dobbelaar such a likeable prospect for Australian golf fans to ponder, try this on for size …

An avid social media participant, Dobbelaar is always among the first to note and congratulate his peers among the current wave of elite amateurs who have achieved such great feats this year.

So when picking his outfits as the New Zealand Amateur progressed, he had no problems remembering what good mates Min Woo Lee, Harrison Endycott, Curtis Luck and Brett Coletta wore in the final rounds of their US Boys’ Amateur, Porter Cup, Asian Amateur and Queensland Open triumphs, respectively.

“I’d seen the guys all holding trophies in their blue and yellow Golf Australia shirt and I thought, `I might just keep that for Sunday in case I get a chance’,” Dobbelaar said.

“I think it might become a bit of a tradition – we’ve got a pretty fair record in that shirt, haven’t we?” he joked.

“Nah, it’s just great to have seen all the guys do so well around the world – it really shows we are all on the right path, I think.”

You’d be hard pressed to argue with that, Louis.