NZ Amateur defence next on Louis' card
HE BECAME the youngest ever champion in the tournament's 123-year history when he won the NZ Amateur last year.
Now Brookwater golfer Louis Dobbelaar wants to defend his title when he tees off in Christchurch on November 1.
But Australia's number 25-ranked amateur golfer expects a far sterner test this time around, with a target planted firmly on his back by a field filled with Aussies hoping to follow in his footsteps.
"New Zealand has always been a place I've loved going, and to have played really well there last year in front of family and friends was great,” the Golf Australia national squad member said.
"They have a lot stronger field this year, and there's a lot more Australians playing this year which is cool.
"Hopefully I can come away with a win again and defend (last year's title).”
The 16 year-old's achievements fill a list longer than most would see in their lifetime.
But in his recent tournament tour of the US, Dobbelaar brushed shoulders with someone whose list outshines even his.
"I got to hang out with (American professional golfer) Rickie Fowler which was pretty cool,” Dobbelaar said.
"I've hung out with him a bit before, I met him at a tournament a few years ago and he was nice enough to invite me over for dinner.
"He's awesome; such a nice guy and really caring - he has some pretty cool cars too.”
Before he crosses the Tasman, Dobbelaar has just as big a challenge waiting for him closer to home.
The Queensland Open, held at his home away from home Brisbane Golf Club, runs from October 26-29.
Dobbelaar finished T68 at +7 in last year's tournament at the same venue. He is aiming a little higher this time around.
"Playing that event against some of the best pros in Australia is always good to test out your game,” he said.
"Obviously (my goal) is to make the cut first, but a top-20 would be nice.
"These are guys who do it for a living. Competing with them will be tough, but I know if I play well I can more than hold my own.”
That Dobbelaar manages to not just compete but place high in such events whilst juggling school work is a feat few can hold a candle to.
He admits stretching himself so thin can be tiring, but the youngster would not have it any other way.
"It does get really busy, it's hard to squish everything into one but I feel like if I can do it well it will help me through life,” Dobbelaar said.
"Mum and Dad always try to get on top of me with school work and stuff, without them I wouldn't be as disciplined.
"They've pushed me the whole way, but when it comes to golf that's my choice and I've learned over the last few years what is required (to juggle both lives).
"It's essentially like balancing two careers in a way, and as a 16 year-old it's quite tough but I like it. It keeps me busy.”
Dobbelaar's schedule includes training three times a week with the Queensland Academy of Sport in the morning before school, and then hitting the golf course after the final bell rings.
When not on the greens or in the classroom he is in the gym, strengthening his frame and looking for any and every edge he can get to improve.
"Keeping my body in shape and injury free is one of the most important things to being a golfer in the long run,” Dobbelaar said.
"It's been a good ride so far. I've been playing well, and I'm looking forward to what's coming up soon.”