POLK COUNTY, Florida — Herbert Dixon celebrated more than 80 years on The Bartow Golf Course by hitting his ninth hole-in one.
“Oh yeah, everyone was there,” Dixon said. “When they saw that ball go in, everyone started screaming – that was a big problem in my golf career, if I do say so myself.”
The odds of your average golfer making a hole-in-one are 12,000 to 1, according to the National Hole-in-One Registry. That number drops to 3,500 to 1 for professional golfers and even lower for players over 100 and Mr. Dixon is 102.
“I started playing golf when I was 15 years old. Things were very different then,” said Mr. Dixon. “It was because of segregation; you couldn’t use the same washroom as her, you had to sit in the back of the bus. Black people weren’t allowed to do much at the time.”
Black people were also not allowed to play golf at Bartow Golf Course.
“I would say things have changed; the door is open!”
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“You have to understand, this was over 70 years ago – we had to play in the back and sometimes we had a caddy day,” said Mr. Dixon. “But black people weren’t allowed to play golf on the courses.”
Mr. Dixon told me that he has seen the wave and the world around it change for the better.
“For the young people I would say: you have to be motivated to go for what you want; the possibilities are now endless,” he said.
After being inducted into the Black Golfers Hall of Fame, Bartow Golf Course named a driving range after Mr. Dixon.
“I’m just so glad I got to witness the day when a black man is recognized in this way,” said Mr. Dixon.
Dixon now participates in tournaments to raise money to help kids get to college.