Some of the finest young golfers in the world have packed their bags and left South Florida to return to places such as Croatia, Mexico, Spain, South Africa, and various U.S. cities.
They had come to the sun and fun of South Florida the past three weeks to compete in a spate of South Florida amateur tournaments that included the Dixie Amateur, South Beach International Amateur, Doral Publix Junior Classic, and Junior Orange Bowl International Championship.
All those tournaments are world-noted events, but it is the Doral Publix that might be the most unique.
And that’s not just because it’s the largest of them (more than 700 kids competing) and offers the widest age range (golfers from 7 to 18 are all swinging away).
Because of its numbers and extra-young competitors, the tournament sometimes looks like well-managed confusion, but it works quite well.
The reason the event is special is that under the guidance of the First Tee of Miami and Charlie DeLucca, the tournament goes beyond golf. Academics are part of the entrance requirement, and the golfers are told words that expound wisdom and ethics.
The event is a life lesson inside a golf tournament.
Danny Guise, 17, from Connecticut, has played in the Doral Publix three consecutive years, and the reason he keeps coming back is because of what it offers.
“It’s unique,” said Guise, who is headed to Wake Forest on a golf scholarship. “The tournament offers you more than just swinging a golf club.”
The tournament means so much to so many that every year people who played in it many years ago travel from out-of-state to help as volunteers.
One example of what it teaches: When young golfers walk down a hallway going to or leaving the scoring building, there are signs listing “core values” — not just for golf, but for life. The values are integrity, responsibility, courtesy, perseverance, judgment, respect, sportsmanship, honesty and confidence. Each sign offers a definition of those qualities.
And, if that’s not enough, there’s a Thought for the Day. In this instance, it was, “When you meet someone without a smile give them one of yours.”
That works anywhere, not just on a golf course.
• Kevin and Alexi Hammer, of Boynton Beach, made a birdie and a bogey on each nine to shoot par-72 in winning the Parent-Child division of the Leon Sikes Team Championships at Atlantis Country Club on Saturday.
Playing in the alternate-shots tournament for the second time, the Hammers birdied the ninth and 14th holes and bogeyed Nos. 7 and 18. A three-putt at 18 did not derail them as they still won by two strokes.
The low-net winners were Randy Youngs, of Glenview, Ill., and Ashley Youngs, of St. Petersburg, with a 65. They are former Atlantis residents.
There were more than 40 teams of father-daughter, mother-son, mother-daughter, and grandparent-grandchild competing.
• Weston’s Claudia De Antonio and Wellington’s Anthony Gabriele won the girls’ and boys’ overall championships at the South Florida PGA’s Junior Tour event in Port St. Lucie.
De Antonio shot 73-80-153 to win by one shot, and Gabriele had a 78-72-150 for a two-stroke victory Sunday.