Longtime friends Larry Novotny, Dale Womeldorf win AGC’s Lakes to Links

After years of trying, good friends from Golden Valley Lutheran College days survive a couple chip-offs and work their way through the shootout to win the three-day member/guest tournament at the Alexandria Golf Club.

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Alexandria's Larry Novotny (left) and good friend Dale Womeldorf of Brainerd hold up their trophies after winning the 2021 Lakes to Links member-guest tournament at the Alexandria Golf Club on July 10, 2021. (Contributed photo)

Alexandria’s Larry Novotny and Brainerd’s Dale Womeldorf have been friends for decades after rooming together at Golden Valley Lutheran College, and golf has been a big part of that bond.

Womeldorf went on to become an Augsburg University Hall of Famer for careers in men’s basketball and golf after graduating in 1982. Novotny, a member at the Alexandria Golf Club, and Womeldorf try to get together almost every month to get on the golf course together.

“We enjoy playing with each other, and he’s one of the few guys you can really laugh with on the golf course when things go wrong,” Novotny said. “So it’s enjoyable playing with him.”

The two have tried for years to win the Lakes to Links member-guest tournament at AGC. They have made the shootout of the three-day event but never advanced to the finals until this past Saturday.
That’s when it all came together for Novotny and Womeldorf as they edged Alexandria’s Nate Meyer and his father, Bob Meyer, to win the Lakes to Links championship. Bruce Leland and Chris Wessel were third as they were eliminated in a chip-off on hole 8, and Alan Grundei and Tom Hollingsworth were fourth after falling in a chip-off on hole 7.

“It was a great feeling,” Novotny said. “We’ve played so much together and enjoy each other’s company, so for us to win a tournament that we had never won before and just enjoy playing in so much, it was really special. We were both grinning from ear to ear, that’s for sure.”


AGC’s member guest starts with the two-person teams placed in pools with similar players based on the two combined handicaps. A total of 13 flight winners and two wildcard duos in the 78-team field advanced to Saturday’s shootout. Once there, teams are given a stroke against certain opponents based on handicaps to make it an even field where any team that makes the shootout has a chance to win.

“You get to play five other teams along the way and compete at that level,” Novotny said. “Then if you make the shootout, those teams are going to be rooting for you. That is sort of special having the guys that you beat earlier rooting for you because they get sort of a stake in the final payout. Then the alternate shot is very nerve wracking. You don’t want to let your partner down, and there’s a lot of people watching. You don’t want to make a complete idiot of yourself. It’s a very fun tournament for sure.”

The win came down to the final hole on the ninth green. The tournament is a true alternate shot format. Womeldorf teed off on No. 9, and Novotny hit second. The Meyer duo ended up going out of bounds on their second shot.

“That was unfortunate,” Novotny said, as he needed just a tap-in putt to win. “We didn’t really feel like we wanted to win like that, but it was just advance the ball slowly and carefully at that point.”

It usually takes a couple of good breaks to win this tournament. The Novotny and Womeldorf duo had not gotten those breaks in years past. On Saturday, they did.

“We survived a couple chip offs,” Novotny said. “When you tie a hole, the teams that tie will chip to see who gets closest (to the pin), and we survived a couple of those. That was great, and hole 7, the bunker had got us two years in a row actually. When we stayed out of that bunker, that was great.”

Novotny and Womeldorf played well all week, including three chip-ins from Novotny during the pool rounds that helped them reach the shootout. Once there, they worked their way through a fun and sometimes tense front nine at AGC to get a win they had waited years for.

“We’ve been friends forever, and we’ve been trying to win this thing for a long time,” Novotny said.


Eric Morken is a sports and outdoor editor at the Echo Press Newspaper in Alexandria, Minnesota, a property of the Forum News Service. Morken covers a variety of stories throughout the Douglas County area, as well as statewide outdoor issues.
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