LITTLE FALLS -- One year ago Chris Dobis was picking apart Central Lakes Conference tennis players with his excellent net game.
The senior from Little Falls is picking apart golf courses this spring as he proved Monday in a Central Lakes Conference meet at the Little Falls Country Club.
The future University of Minnesota-Mankato student tamed the tight fairways of the country club on the way to a one-under-par 71.
"It was kind of funny today because I had a lot of luck," said Dobis. "My first hole I three-putted from five feet for a double (bogey). The second hole I three-putted for a bogey so I was 3-over after two holes and I just told myself not to get worried about a score. Then on seven I hit the best shot of my life."
On seven, Dobis found his drive in a sand trap. As he dug his feet into the dirt he prepared for the perfect shot. What he got was the least perfect shot with the best possible conclusion. He scolded his sand wedge but the ball hit the flag pole and landed in the cup for an eagle.
From there Dobis finished his round with another eagle on nine and three birdies. He finished the front nine with a 35 and a 36 on the back for his second-place score.
The former Flyer tennis player advanced to the Class AA state tourament his sophomore and junior year. He dominated his section and conference competition but when he got to state he had a revelation.
"I accomplished everything I thought I could in tennis by making it to the state tournament," said Dobis. "I played with some of those kids and I didn't really think I had a chance at doing anything in tennis as far as the state tournament.
"Golf is a little different. Anyone can play well any day, you just have to have a hot putter.
"I told my tennis coach last year that was my last match."
When Dobis was 6 he joined a junior golf program at the country club but had to play right-handed because there wasn't any left handed clubs. Initially he hated the sport. So he quit and started playing tennis.
Then in seventh-grade he picked up a set of clubs again and loved it, but he knew he wasn't going to be competitive right away. Then in 1998 he won the junior club championship.
"I played tennis on the weekday and on the weekend I played golf. Then in the summer I wouldn't pick up a tennis racket and just played golf."
To say Dobis's win might be a fluke would be wrong. He stood in third place in the conference with a scoring average of 77.5 in two rounds. His 71 drops him to a 75.3 average putting him just ahead of Brainerd's Justin Heitkamp for first place in the conference.
Heitkamp finished the day with a three-over 75. Brainerd finished just behind the Dobis led Flyers for third place. The Warriors still remain second in the conference but dug themselves a deep hole to try and dig out of to win the conference.
"When some one shoots a 68 like Alex's top player and our top player shoots a 75 that's a seven stroke gap right away," said Warrior coach Tom Younghans. "I was very happy for a couple of the kids who keep getting lower. Jonathan Larson had a nice round with his 77. That's his best round of the year.
"That five and six guy need to come through every once and awhile. Erick Holland had an 80 again so he's coming around."
Ben House ended his three-match win streak with a 79 while Jim Bender shot an 80 on a course where he once shot a hole in one. Joe Morgan rounded out the roster with an 83.
Little Falls was second behind Alexandria thanks to Dobis and John Patterson as well. Patterson shot a 75 to tie Heitkamp for fourth place.
Team scores -- 1-Alexandria 303, 2-Little Falls 309, 3-Brainerd 311, 4-St. Cloud Tech 312, 5-Sartell 313, 6-St. Cloud Apollo 319, 7-Willmar 320, 8-Rocori 323
Individual medalist -- Brady Swedberg (Alex) 68
Brainerd results -- Justin Heitkamp 75, Jonathan Larson 77, Ben House 79, Jim Bender 80, Erick Holland 80, Joe Morgan 83
Little Falls results -- Chris Dobis 71, John Patterson 75, George Fortier 81, Jon Smieja 82, Eric Knopik 82, Kendall Fiea 88
Conference standings -- Alexandria 29, Brainerd 26.5, St. Cloud Tech 21.5, Willmar 17.5, Little Falls 17.5, St. Cloud Apollo 14.5, Sartell 12.5, Rocori 5
Next meet -- Little Falls vs. Brainerd at the Legacy at Cragun's 4 p.m. Thursday.
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