He’s now 80 years old, but PGA Golf Instructor Dave Dixon still likes to provide a pointer or two to an aspiring young golfer.
Dixon also enjoys helping to grow the next generation of golfers, having been a lifelong golfer himself.
That is why for the past 12 years, Dixon has organized a junior golf tournament, free of charge, to youngsters each summer at the Southaven Golf Center.
The nine-hole course is owned by the City of Southaven and comes under the Parks and Recreation Department. Terry Locke is the course clubhouse manager, and with Dixon, has each summer offered free clinics, followed by the tournament to put the skills into play.
Originally set for June 14, Locke and Dixon this week decided to move the tournament date to Friday, July 12. While the July date may provide for warmer weather, past history has shown more players come out to play in the event.
The tournament is free of charge to enter. It is a nine-hole medal play tournament for youngsters ages 6-17 divided into five age groups. USGA rules are used during the competition.
Trophies are to be awarded to the top three players in each age group and there will be two separate tee times, 8 a.m. and 10:30 a.m.
If nothing else, there’s free pizza and pop to the players once they finish.
Dixon said the tournament is an event everybody looks forward to each year. “It’s something the players, parents and grandparents really enjoy,” he said.
Talk to Dixon, and he has story upon story about golf and golfers over the years, all the way back to when he got a scholarship that gave him a full ride to college.
“I enjoy the teaching, I turned pro in 1963,” Dixon said. “That was when I got out of college, but then I went to the Army and I was a golf pro in the Army. I had some clinics in the Army that I enjoyed.”
Dixon calls golf a complicated game, but added there are some basics that cross all skill levels.
“They all have different swings, but we want to stay with the same good golf grip,” Dixon explained. “When you give a lesson, they have to go out there and work like you tell them. After that if you see them again, you can tell if they hit (golf) balls. Then all you have to do is just tweak them a little bit.”
The other basics, Dixon explains, involves proficiency with the clubs you use to drive, chip and putt.
“If that man can drive, chip and putt, he’s going to beat you,” Dixon said. “I learned that early when I was growing up.”
Golf is one game you can play your entire life and is a sport that Dixon also calls a “social game.”
“I started playing when I was 13 and here I am at age 80,” Dixon said. “You can go out there and play each other for like a quarter and if I beat you, then I’m happy.”
For more information on the Southaven Junior Golf Open Tournament, call the event sponsor Southaven Golf Center at 662-393-0370, or call Dixon at 901-462-4715.
SPORTS ETC.: Whatever your Major League allegiances, DeSoto County baseball fans have been all together in their support for the explosive entrance to “the Show” of former DeSoto Central standout Austin Riley.
A state champion with the Jaguars in 2015, Riley was drafted by the Atlanta Braves and left for the pros, instead of heading off to college, and worked his way through the Braves’ minor league system before his call up to Atlanta on May 15.
In just his first game with Atlanta against the St. Louis Cardinals, Riley homered in three at bats and already had six home runs for the year through Tuesday’s contest against Washington. He currently has a batting average of .365 and an on-base percentage of .400 with 16 runs-batted-in.
Although much of his minor league career has been spent as a third baseman, Riley earlier made the move into the outfield where he has been with the Braves.
I think it’s safe to say if you’re a baseball fan, whether you’re a Braves, Yankees, Cardinals fan (or whatever), DeSoto County is hoping one of its own plays well in the big leagues. Even this Minnesota Twins’ fans is cheering him on.
COUNTY PLAYERS LEAD ITAWAMBA: The Itawamba Community College women’s softball team that played in the recent NJCAA Division II national tournament in Clinton had a significant representation of DeSoto County talent on it.
The roster this season that played for the Indians had no less than six players with county residences.
The group included twins Ellie and Mattie Meine, both freshmen from DeSoto Central, along with Southaven sophomore product Joanna Vasquez, freshman Hannah Swallers of Olive Branch, who prepped at Marshall Academy, sophomore Rachel Sternisha of Olive Branch High School and freshman Emma Grace Schell of Nesbit and Magnolia Heights.
The Indians finished 2-2 in the national tournament. Itawamba opened with a 4-3 win over Louisburg, N.C. before falling into the loser’s bracket after an 11-3 loss to Highland, Kansas. In the loser’s bracket, the Indians edged Cuyahoga, Ohio 5-3 but were eventually eliminated from the tournament by Johnson County, Kansas 3-1.
Bob Bakken is Sports Editor for the DeSoto Times-Tribune.