Brookwater star leads Qld to Boys Interstate win
GOLF can be a lonely sport at the best of times.
Usually, it is just a golfer and his clubs on the golf course. The caddy might offer a helpful ear, but for the most part a golfer is left to his own devices.
One mistake can turn a promising round into a prohibitive one. You have few friends trying to play out of a bunker on the 13th.
Sometimes, even the best individual athletes yearn for teammates. People to share in the spoils of victory, and the sorrows of defeat with.
Which is why Louis Dobbelaar rates captaining Queens-land to the Boys Junior Interstate Series in Perth as "one of the biggest highlights” of his fledgling career.
"It was an unreal week with the boys, we had such a good time,” the 16-year-old Brookwater golfer said.
"Golf is such an individual sport. Having good mates around you is really important.
"It's such a different feeling being part of a winning team. Being in a team environment in golf is so valuable in itself, but to captain your team and win - I can't describe it. You have to be in the moment.”
Dobbelaar went undefeated through five individual matches in Perth; one of only five players to do so.
Queensland wrapped up the series in a dramatic final-day shoot-out against Western Australia.
It was Dobbelaar's fourth time representing Queensland in the annual Interstate Series, and the first time leaving with first-place honours.
WA won the title in 2017, and knew a strong performance would help the hosts leapfrog their opponents and New South Wales.
Playing as Queensland's number one, Dobbelaar had the added pressure of matching it with WA's number one, Cooper Geddes.
The Queensland skipper did the job - as did teammate Lewis Hoath in a tight contest against newly-crowned Australian Junior Champion Connor Fewkes.
"(WA) had a really strong team this year,” Dobbelaar said.
"They were in form at the time, and to come up against them in that last game of the series was going to be crucial.
"To come out on top was an absolute bonus. I think we all deserved it for putting the effort in.
"Being able to embrace it with the whole team, I honestly can't describe it. It's one of my biggest highlights.”
Dobbelaar finished third behind Fewkes in the Australian Junior Championships prior to the Interstate Series.
He said after a few months of playing "not my best”, it was nice to return to form in a big way.
"Playing number one is always tough,” Dobbelaar said.
"I thought I played solid all week. I've been on a bit of a - not a break - but I haven't played my best golf the last six months.
"I know that when I do play well, I can compete 9/10 times. I feel like my bad golf has gotten better, which sounds weird, but in professional and amateur golf that's really crucial.
"I've definitely matured.”
Maturity is something the Year 12 student definitely does not lack.
As one of the top young golfers in Australia, Dobbelaar has learned to juggle his academic and sporting pursuits.
But now in his last year of high school, Dobbelaar said his focus would shift slightly in favour of education this year.
"This year will be a little about treading water with my golf - Year 12 is a big year,” he said.
"Trying to keep the grades up is quite difficult when I'm missing school. I'll be travelling (overseas) a lot less, but still playing plenty of junior events within Australia and hopefully try to get some titles.”
Golf has taken Dobbelaar to more countries in his 16 years than most see in their lifetime.
He knows how fortunate he is to do what he does. But he also knows there is something to be said for not growing up too fast.
"I also have to just enjoy being a teenager,” Dobbelaar said.
"As a golfer you're always hanging out with older people.
"Finding the balance is so important.”