BY ALLEN A. BUCHANAN & BISHOP-ELECT DR. ROBERT HARRISON
ST. PETERSBURG — Police officers teed-up with members of the community in the first Building Unity in our Community Charity Golf Tournament last month at Mangrove Bay Golf Course.
Each team included one member of the St. Petersburg Police Department to emphasize on building positive relationships while having fun playing golf in a relaxed setting.
St. Pete golfers included Al Broughton, Lenton Moon and James Cohen, while the Polk County players present were Bishop Joe Lewis, Elder Howard Mathis, Lawrence Hunt, Thomas Davis and Terry Moore.
Special guest player 100-year-old Herbert Dixon added a historical connection for the history of golf and the struggle of African Americans in the sport. Dixon was inducted into the National Black Golf Hall of Fame (1998), the African American Golfers Hall of Fame (2012) and the Polk County Sports Hall of Fame.
“In my time coming up, we weren’t allowed to play on any of the PGA golf courses,” said Mr. Dixon.
Born in Dade City, Mr. Dixon’s dream and determination to play professional golf began when he was 15 years old. He learned to play by working as a caddy, and as a result, started to play in the Negro Golfer’s Association since black golfers weren’t allowed to become a part of the white mainstream organization.
“It’s tough now, but you have an opportunity to get out there, an opportunity that I didn’t have when I was coming up,” said Mr. Dixon.
“This golf tournament was a great opportunity for members of law enforcement and our community to come together for a good cause,” said Police Chief Anthony Holloway. “Engaging in positive conversations during non-stressful or non-critical situations increases the ease with which any future difficult conversations can be had.”
Officers who participated in the tournament included Major Robert Mailhiot, Lt. Steve Mandakis, Lt. Brian Taylor, Sergeant Scott Elizondo, Sergeant Kenny Miller and Assistant Chief Mike Kovacsev.
“I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to golf with Mr. Dixon and was in utter awe that his talents remain so steadfast after 85 years of golfing,” remarked Kovacsev. “The ability to interact with such pillars within in our community was enjoyable, and a time I will reflect on for years to come.”
Major Frank Williams said by participating in the tournament, he was able to foster new relations through the game of golf.
“I really appreciated the conversations about wanting to continue the positive relationships between the police and the citizens of the city,” said Williams.
Next year’s Building Unity in our Community Charity Golf Tournament already has a player signed up.
“Can’t wait to play again next year,” stated Detective Sam Brachna.