Regardless of who was asked, be it organizers, participants or spectators, the 50th Florida Sheriff’s Youth Villa Classic held at the Bartow Golf Club was a success. Consensus was not only did it feature changes in format that were favorably received, but more important, raised money for a worthy cause.
“It seems to be going pretty well,” said Jim Semple, the program director for the Sheriff’s Youth Villa located on State Road 60. “Being this one is the 50th year, and the changes, it seems to be flowing pretty good.”
A less formal awards ceremony was held inside the club restaurant shortly after.
“It’s a great event,” said Chris Banks, Bartow Golf Club resident pro. “This is dear to my heart, this tournament.”
With Karen Guffey to assist, handing out checks, Banks called out in ascending order the fourth-, third-, second- and first-place winners of the various divisions. While all winners received applause, one in particular brought almost everyone in the restaurant to their feet and cheering when Banks called out his name as coming in first place: Herbert Dixon.
Dixon, 92, once was a caddy at the golf club but could not legitimately play the course during the Jim Crow segregation era. He did not let that stop his love for the game, or from him becoming a top-ranked golfer in the annals of Florida’s black sports community. Recently, he was elected to the African-American Golf Hall of Fame, plus he is a member of several other similar institutions. Dixon acknowledged the recognition, taking off his baseball cap and waving it as he made his way toward Banks and Guffey.
There also was applause for Banks on his running the contest, words of appreciation to Guffey and others for their contributions, as well as reminders there was at least another upcoming tournament and if golfers were interested in participating they had better sign up soon because the openings were quickly being filled.