Michigan Golfer ON-LINE

Kyle Dobbs -- Michigan Medal Play Champion
by Jack Saylor

Bruce Dobbs, a standout golfer in southeastern Michigan for many years, introduced his son, Kyle, to the game at an early age, but he didn't really teach him everything he knew about the game.

What the senior Dobbs did pass on was everything he THOUGHT about the game.

"He'd give me pointers here and there, but didn't really teach me," said 23-year-old Kyle Dobbs of Ann Arbor. "Mostly, what he did was help me with the mental side of the game." Bruce Dobbs taught Kyle Dobbs to be aggressive and play his own game.

Those were the thought processes young Dobbs used to add another pair of trophies to his impressive amateur collection as he swept both ends of the annual Horton Smith and Michigan Medal Play championships at Detroit Golf Club.

Dobbs had to withstand a sudden-death hole with Randy Lewis, the former Michigan Amateur champ and U.S. Mid-Amateur runnerup, to win the Horton Smith event, the one-day, 36-hole first half of the MMP, which honors the late great Detroit Golf Club pro.

Dobbs and Lewis tied over the 36 holes at four-under-par 136 over DGC's two courses, but Lewis couldn't stay with Dobbs, freshly-graduated from the University of Michigan, over the final two rounds.

Dobbs, who won the '97 Big Ten title while playing for the Wolverines, fired a two-under-par 70 in miserable conditions over the North course in the third round to open up a six-shot lead.

Heeding father's advice, Dobbs stayed aggressive and didn't rest on the pars in the finale. He cruised the tricky, par-68 South course with two-under 66 and won by seven strokes.

"There was no catching him while he was making seven birdies," said Lewis, who won the MMP in 1994. Lewis had a one-under 67 in what turned out to be a two-man shootout.

The victory satisfied Dobbs' pre-tourney quest for maybe one more trophy to conclude his amateur career. He got two for the price of one and his golfing future has reached the crossroads.

Dobbs entered the U.S. Open qualifier and if he had swept through the two stages to reach the tournament at San Francisco's Olympic Club, he would have made his pro debut there.

But he needed 77 shots at Mystic Creek GC in Milford and finished up the track in the local qualifier. Thus, the 6-foot-1, 195-pound Dobbs, whose U-M degree is in sports management and communications, will hold off on turning pro and, instead, will take a shot at one more prestigious trophy, the Staghorn that represents victory in the Michigan Amateur.

Dobbs is working on the golf course -- and on his game -- at Ann Arbor's Stonebridge GC. After the Amateur in late June, he'll finalize his professional plans.

Whatever mark he makes, much credit will be due Bruce Dobbs, who cut down a golf club and put it into Kyle's hands when he was 11 months old.

"I beat it around the back yard with that club, then when I got a little older, my dad would take me out with him almost every single night to either Radrick Farms or Washtenaw CC, and we'd both hit balls . . . this was when I was four, five, six and seven years old."

Dobbs didn't belabor the teaching process.

"That's when I really picked up the game," Kyle said. "He gave me a good grip, posture and alignment and I just went from there. He'd give me pointers here and there, but didn't really teach me. He stressed the mental sides. He was a great person to watch and follow. I tried to mimic how he played the game."

These "lessons" paid off and so has Dobbs' putter.

"I spent about 1-1/2 hours the other day, bending it, chopping it to the right height and getting it the way I wanted," Dobbs said.

The results were immediate. He played the front nine of Detroit Golf Club's tough North course in six-under 30 during the opening round of the Horton Smith, then when he hit that stretch again in the third round of the Michigan Medal, he shot three-under 33. Then, of course, there were the seven birdies on the South course that wrapped up the title.

If Dobbs keeps putting that way in the Michigan Amateur, his rivals might take up a collection to make sure he turns pro.

What's in Dobbs' Bag
Driver: 44-inch Calloway Big Bertha, eight degree, regular Warhead.
Three-wood: Taylor-Made
Irons: One through pitching wedge (no two-iron), Cleveland cavity backs
Lob wedge: Hogan
Sand wedge: Cleveland
Putter: Ping Anser 3

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