Here they come marching in, all the best amateur golfers you could imagine — and not just from South Florida, Florida or the United States, but from all over the world.
Those golfers will be of disparate ages, from 6-years-old to 60-somethings, and they will be competing in four tournaments — the Dixie Amateur, the South Beach International Amateur, the Doral Publix Junior Classic and the Junior Orange Bowl International — during the next several weeks.
These tournaments have produced many PGA Tourand LPGA Tour golfers, including some of the greatest stars to perform in the sport. And for the fans, the best thing is that they can watch the future stars of golf before they are even stars.
Here’s how these tournaments line up:
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▪ Dates: The women’s final is Thursday. The men’s championship runs Friday through Monday.
▪ Site, history: This tournament, held in Broward County, is the oldest of the four. The tournament, which began in 1924, utilizes the Heron Bay and TPC Eagle Trace courses this time and is in its 84th year. It has been played at various spots, including Crandon in Miami-Dade during its early years.
▪ Big names who have played in the Dixie: Tiger Woods is the most notable. He lost in the final as a 16-year-old. Other players who have competed in the event are Sergio Garcia, Doug Ford, Hal Sutton, Brandt Snedeker, Erik Compton and Bruce Fleisher.
▪ Dates: Men’s championship (no other divisions) runs Friday through Monday.
▪ Site, history: The tournament will be played at Miami Beach Golf Club and Normandy Shores Golf Club. The first two rounds at both courses, the final two at Miami Beach. The event has only existed for three years as it heads into its fourth. Nevertheless, it has the best talent of these amateur competitions. Heading into this year’s tournament, the event should be ranked as the 14th-ranked amateur event in the world with 71 of the top 600 players in the world competing. The tournament has an international flavor with 107 international players competing and 103 from the United States.
▪ Big names who have played in the South Beach Amateur: Probably the most notable person to win the South Beach is Kelly Kraft in 2011, the top-ranked U.S. amateur at the time and also ranked No.4 in the world amateur rankings. The other two winners are Mexico’s Juan Pablo Hernandez (2012) and England’s Gregory Eason a year ago.
▪ Dates: 13-under division ends Friday; 14-under division runs Saturday through Tuesday.
▪ Site, history: The tournament is played at Trump National Doral, and last year the Doral complex came under the ownership of Donald Trump. Would the event be booted to somewhere else?
Ever curious, Trump came out to see this junior event and walked away extremely impressed. The tournament, which Trump said will remain at Doral, is famous for stressing not only golf talent but also values and education to the young people competing in it.
▪ Big names who have played in the Doral-Publix: One name will suffice, and that would be world No.1 Rory McIlroy, who won one of the tournament’s divisions when he was younger than 10. To this day, McIlroy calls that Doral-Publix title, “My first major.”
▪ Dates: Dec. 27-30. Male and female divisions played simultaneously.
▪ Site, history: This event is held at the Biltmore Golf Course. The tournament has its connections with the Orange Bowl and attracts an international field.
▪ Big names who have played in the Orange Bowl: A who’s who of major golf: Woods, Bubba Watson, Lexi Thompson, Mark Calcavecchia, Tracy Kerdy, Cristie Kerr and Lexi Thompson, among many others.