Old State Road is about to get busy again.
After a two-year hiatus, the much anticipated Craig Dixon Invitational is back at Mattoon Country Club. The tournament that features 40 teams from all three classes is expected to field 240 total golfers with schools that span from Massac County in the south to Marmion Academy (Aurora) in the north. That includes as west as Quincy in the west to Danville in the east.
All teams will get the chance to play at both Meadowview and the Country Club. Needless to say, Mattoon boys golf coach Bill Behrends cannot wait.
“We take a great deal of pride in this,” said Behrends. “Coaches always comment on how much they look forward to this event, and we want to make sure we have a fun, competitive event that generates buzz about our program, school, and community. Because of the number of teams that come to town, this tournament generates thousands of dollars in revenue for local businesses.”
The invite is one of the few tournaments left that play 36 holes over two days. It’s potentially the largest golf tournament in the state of Illinois outside of the IHSA State Championships.
The invite was named after Dixon, the former MHS boys golf coach that compiled a 108-69-2 record in duals from 1987-2002, which also featured leading two teams to the state tournament. Dixon, who was also a teacher and administrator in the district, lost his battle to ALS in 2016.
“We are glad to be able to do something to help the community and to also promote the level of golf talent that we have in this part of the state,” said Behrends. “Craig Dixon did a lot to promote golf in this community, and we are happy to be able to honor his memory and contributions with this tournament.”
Mattoon is coming off a second-place finish at the Danville Invitational, which featured some tough, quality competition. Mattoon finished one shot behind champion Edwardsville. Both Stewart Druin and Madden Johnson tied for 10th overall at Turtle Run Golf Course.
Behrends believes that this should carry momentum into this weekend with hopes of a top-5 finish.
“We are excited to host teams from all over the state,” said Behrends. “We have two great golf courses in the community, and the kids are excited to compete against some great programs on their home turf. With the size and strength of the field, a top 5 finish would be outstanding. Individually, I know that all of the boys want to play their best this weekend and bring home a medal.”