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Thursday, January 27, 2022

Christmas gift leads to Division I scholarship for Routt’s Addie Dobson

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A set of putters was the last thing on Addie Dobson’s Christmas list five years ago.

Dobson had never picked a club.

“I don’t think I asked them,” she said with a laugh. “There was a big chest under the Christmas tree, and I kind of guessed they were golf putters.

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“I was hoping it was a big box with a little box inside and another little box — maybe some money or something,” Dobson said.

As it turns out, those clubs were worth their weight in gold – Mizzou gold. Just five years later, Dobson signed a letter of intent to play golf at the University of Missouri.

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That first set of putters was a gift from her grandmother, Sharon. Dobson’s brother was a golfer at Root, and her family thought it might be a good idea to only play on the same team once before he graduated.

Dobson wasn’t sure she wanted to play. The clubs sat in the box they entered for about six months. But like every Christmas gift, they have created a certain sense of commitment. “They got me these clubs, and I have to play now,” Dobson said. So, with a little encouragement from her brother, she decided to try golf.

‘If you had told me this Christmas that I would now go to Mizu to play golf,’ she said, ‘I would have thought you crazy.’ “I didn’t actually think I’d keep playing golf, and then eventually, while I kept playing, I kind of fell in love with it.”

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Dobson is a natural athlete and a basketball and softball star at Root. But she was not a natural in golf. it was hard. When she got frustrated trying to put the ball in the air in the driving field, she would practice her shot, getting frustrated when she missed the hits.

“I was going to hit the balls at range, just take iron shots,” Dobson said. “You get really angry when you can’t even hit the ball hard.”

Came quickly. Her short game and setting still needed work, but even as a freshman, Dobson could do something that not all golfers can do – hit the ball off the tee. “I always loved hitting it away,” she said.

Scores for her that first year? can be forgotten. But Root had a good group and was placed in the top three regionally, and with two basketball friends — Lacey Sherrill and Bella McCartney — both on the team, Dobson was having fun. Had she been the only girl on the team, Dobson said she probably wouldn’t have gotten attached to her.

But after shooting 103 in sectors, I encountered what looked like a fork in the road. Her father, Kenny, did not allow her to abandon herself.

“I definitely doubt myself, and I wasn’t very committed to getting much better because I was like, ‘This is not going anywhere,'” Dobson said. “But it was like, you just have to trust yourself. You have to keep going. You will get better.”

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So, she got back to work. Dobson took lessons from Keith Ward at The Links, and later, from Craig Onsrud, an assistant coach with the Illinois Wesleyan women’s golf team in Bloomington. Longtime Routt coaches, Mike Anderson and Randy Swanson, helped her grow her appreciation for the game. Her father did his part, too, suggesting YouTube videos for her to watch and buying books to read to help her improve her game. And he started hooking up with my college coaches – including an assistant coach in Missouri…Hi my daughter is new to golf but I think she has some potential and would be interested in joining the Tigers as a career if she improved enough. … Like this.

And Dobson began to take the sport more seriously.

“I don’t think there was a point where I loved golf,” Dobson said. “At first I was doing it for fun, like I didn’t really care. But the next summer after that—the summer I was entering my freshman year—I began to disappoint myself when I wasn’t well. And there were moments in the summer when I realized that I was actually I’m getting better, even if it’s not like that.”

The following year, Dobson entered her first summer tournament, taking part in a Drysdale game play event in Springfield. I shot in the ’90s and lost. Later that fall, she qualified for the IHSA State Finals for the first time, shooting an 80 at Root Sectional. She ranked 74th in the state.

When the pandemic called off everything in March 2020, Dobson continued working on her game, sneaking into K’s Creek’s training course.

Then finally, the rest of her game took over for the tee shots, and golf got easier. I made a breakthrough in my first Preliminary Tour tournament last summer, at Weibring Golf Course. On the first day, Dobson shot a 76—the first time I’ve broken an 80—and beat a former state champ. “That was a lot that day,” she said.

Dobson didn’t expect a repeat in the second round, but surprised herself by shooting a 78 to finish third. “I got my first golf cup that day,” she said.

From there, things quickly came together. Dobson finally started breaking par in tournament play in July and August. She beats up the high school players she once liked, and becomes friends with them.

Then, I watched the Missouri coach’s assistant call her dad two years ago play in a tournament in Kansas City, and I was impressed. The Missouri head coach saw her play in a tournament in Columbia a few weeks later, and the rest is history.

“It all kind of became a reality just a few months ago,” Dobson said. “It all came at once.”

Finishing fifth in the state championship this fall was icing on the cake.

Grandma Sharon of Dobson attended the signing ceremony at Root, wearing gold Mizzou. A die-hard Illini fan, she wasn’t sold on the Tigers right away, but she eventually made a comeback. “She’s very proud, sure,” Dobson said.

After giving her the starting set of golf clubs, Dobson’s grandmother was one of her biggest supporters, providing her with new gear, tournament rides, and whatever else she needed.

“She and Tony Ward have given me so much to improve my game of golf – new clubs whenever I need them, balls all the time…They have helped me so much with golf,” Dobson said. “He drives me to the championships when I can’t drive. My parents obviously work in the summer, but having to move me around central Illinois was definitely a lot for them. I’m so grateful, sure.”

Getting a late start in golf is something Dobson considers an advantage. “A lot of the girls got tired, but I’m starting my freshman year, so I’m definitely still learning to love the game,” she said. “So I think that’s definitely on my side, and it will help me in the next four years at Mizzou, because I still want to improve.”

How good can it be? At this rate, there’s nothing to tell us, but Dobson is starting to think that he could play professionally one day.

At this point, that’s just a dream, a little out of reach – but it was a signing with the Division I college team not too long ago. Dobson said she is confident coaches in Missouri can help her get where she wants to go.

Dobson soon outgrew her first set of putters, but still had them – a Christmas gift she wasn’t sure she wanted, but eventually changed everything.

What is Dobson planning to give her grandmother this Christmas?

“Grandma Sharon, I’m going to have to sneak in some gold somehow,” she said. “I don’t know if I can get her flat stuff from Mizzou, but I’ll sneak some gold somewhere for sure.”

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