On his trip back from Carlsandburg College in Galesburg, Ill., in early February, Mark Dockstader had already formed his opinion on the college visit.
“In my head, I made the decision I wanted to attend Carlsandburg College on the way home from my visit,” the Moffat County High School senior said. “I told my parents about a week later.”
Dockstader signed his letter of intent Feb. 23 to attend Carlsandburg College on a golf scholarship.
When Dockstader enrolls in the fall, his scholarship will cover full tuition and part of the cost of books.
After meeting Carlsandburg’s golf coach, KC Harding, Dockstader said it was a pretty easy decision.
“After the coach contacted me in December, I kind of grew a strong bond with him,” he said. “(Harding) is a really motivated young coach and it really intrigued me.
“Carlsandburg is the number three junior college in the nation for golf, and it is a good place to start for me both academically and athletically.”
As the opportunity of playing golf at the collegiate level was presented, Dockstader said he had a short list of colleges he was interested in.
Mesa State, Western Iowa, Ancilla (Ind.) and McCook (Neb.) were all possibilities before his visit to Carlsandburg, Dockstader said.
While most on his list were community colleges, Dockstader said he hopes to move up to a bigger college eventually.
“In a couple of years, I hope I am ready to play at a Division I or II school,” he said. “I said I would play in South Africa if I had too, I just want to play.”
Dockstader said he got his start in golf at the age of 4 because of his dad, Tom Dockstader, who used to be the golf professional at the Yampa Valley Golf Course.
Because Tom worked long hours at the golf course, he said it was a good reason to get his sons involved in the game.
“Mark was pretty good when he first started and seemed like a natural,” Tom said. “His brother (Scott) and him picked it up fairly quickly.”
Dockstader said because he grew up on the golf course, he started playing competitively when he was 10 years old.
Still, when Dockstader entered middle school, he gave up golf for a different sport.
“In middle school, I started playing basketball, so it was a decision I made to give up golf,” Dockstader said. “I didn’t get back into golf until my sophomore year.”
When Dockstader realized he had a chance to play golf in college, he said he decided to get back into the sport.
“I think I developed a passion for golf more after I came back than when I started,” he said. “Playing in college was something I wanted to do, so I put in the work.”
Ken Harjes, head coach of the MCHS boys golf team, said Dockstader had a mind for the game he rarely sees in younger players.
“In the couple of years I have coached Mark, he impressed me with the way he could think through the game and make good decisions,” Harjes said. “He would look at the whole situation and not just walk up and choose a club.
“I had no doubt (Mark) had skills, but I was impressed with the way he could think about the game for a young kid.”
One of the biggest aspects of golf, Dockstader said, is the mental game.
“Golf starts with having confidence in what you are about to do,” he said. “Golf is all experience and everyone has mental blocks, but it is about becoming consistent and trusting your golf swing.”
In his senior year, Dockstader played only one tournament because of a shoulder injury that required surgery.
Despite the injury, Harjes said Dockstader helped his teammates throughout the season.
“While he wasn’t able to compete in regionals and other tournaments, Mark kept coming back and helping the team,” he said. “When the varsity golfers would travel, Mark would stay behind and help the junior varsity players while I was gone.”
While Dockstader’s senior season may not have added career highlights, achievements like being the first MCHS golfer to be an all-conference golfer in his junior year and shooting an even par 70 round at the Tiara Rado Golf Course in Grand Junction where enough to allow Dockstader to move on to the collegiate level.
“I put in a lot of hard work to get to this point, too, and I am excited to have this opportunity,” Dockstader said. “It is going to be tougher than high school and I know my teammates push me to get the best out of me.”
For Tom, having his son continue in the sport he taught him is emotional.
“It is a great feeling to have Mark doing what he wants and I am really excited for him,” Tom said. “It is like a dream come true.”
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