by Ron Gaines
South Florida is home to one of the oldest and largest amateur tournaments in the nation, the Dixie Amateur. The Dixie, as it’s often called, was first contested in 1924, and boasts a list of winners that reads like a who’s-who of professional golf.
“This year we’ll have about 220 players in the men’s division, another 110 women and 90 seniors,” said tournament director Ben Derauf.
“It’s a very solid international field with more than 10 countries being represented this year.”
The 83rd Dixie Amateur will begin Dec. 13-15 with the senior portion at Heron Bay Golf Club in Coral Springs. The women's division will begin play on Dec. 17 while the men will start on Dec. 19, with play concluding on Dec. 20 and 22 for the women and men, respectively.
Both the men's and women's division will use the two courses at Woodlands Golf and Country Club in Tamarac, Fla., all of which are Clublink properties.
The Dixie has always attracted many of the top amateurs. Past fields included such notables as Tiger Woods and Sergio Garcia. Former Masters champion Doug Ford, along with modern era players Hal Sutton, Brandt Snedeker, Andy Bean, Bruce Fleisher, Jesper Parnevik and Peter Uihlein, have all hoisted the trophy.
“It’s like having two full-time jobs,” said Derauf, who is also the Director of Operations for Heron Bay Golf Club. “We’re moving along nicely and the courses are in great shape. All the members at Heron Bay say that the course is in the best shape ever.”
Heron Bay is no stranger to championship golf having hosted the PGA Tour’s Honda Classic for six years before it was moved to Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.
The Dixie begins with the senior division playing three rounds. Leading the 2013 field will be U.S. Senior Amateur Champion and Savannah, Ga. native, Dr. Doug Hanzel.
Hanzel, who currently sits in second place in the Golfweek Senior Amateur Rankings, is the top ranked senior in the field and is considered by many to be the top senior amateur in the world.
Another player of note is defending Dixie Senior Amateur champion Brady Exber, who recently notched a first-place finish in the Senior Azalea coupled with a host of top-10 finishes in 2013.
In the super-senior division, Pat Vincelli will be trying to become the only super senior in history to win the trophy three years in a row.