Richard E. Dixon did all he could to get his son, Bill, into golf at a young age.
“He was an avid golfer, a good player, a single-digit handicap in those days,” Bill Dixon recalled of his father recently.
“My dad tried to get me to play when I was really young, all the way until my early teens,” he added. “I just did not like golf.”
As he got a little older, something changed for Bill Dixon. As he put it, “just one day it clicked for me.”
He was 14 years old when his focus turned to golf, when he fell in love with the game, when he wanted to spend all the time he could at the golf course – playing and practicing, working on his game, being around others in the game, talking about golf.
“When I was 14, it was, ‘Oh, my gosh, I love this game.’ I’ve been playing it since,” said Dixon.
Dixon’s parents had a lot to do with that, as Richard E. Dixon introduced Bill to the game, and his mom, Elizabeth (Betty) H. Dixon, drove him to Mather Golf Course, located in Sacramento County, every day in the summertime.
“During the summers, when I was 14-15, my mom would drop me off at Mather, at 6 or 7 o’clock in the morning. I would play 36 holes. And then my dad would drive out there at 3 or 4 (in the afternoon) and we played another 18 together. I’d play like 54 holes a day,” Bill Dixon said. “It was just a great place to be, with all the retired military guys. Everybody kind of looked after me.”
Bill Dixon stayed right with the game, and it has led to a lifetime in golf.
He played on golf teams at El Camino High School in Sacramento and Sierra College in Rocklin.
He was an assistant coach at El Camino High.
He worked as an assistant golf professional at Princeville Golf Resort in Kauai, Hawaii.
He worked as an assistant golf professional and manager of the Treetops Resort golf shop for Rick Smith, one of the top instructors in all of golf, in Michigan.
He has been with the Haggin Oaks Golf Complex – a 36-hole facility that features the Alister MacKenzie Golf Course and Arcade Creek Course – for 34 years. He started at Haggin Oaks in July of 1987.
Dixon has been the manager of the Haggin Oaks Super Shop, overseeing retail sales and day-to-day operations, since 2007.
“There’s not a person that works in our company that is more adored by the people that are under him in the organizational troop – every golf professional, every starter, every cashier, our club checkout team, everybody back in shipping,” said Ken Morton, Jr., the Vice President of Retail & Marketing for Morton Golf, LLC. “They truly treasure the guy.
“Bill has an innate ability to really connect with someone and convey his true caring nature immediately. He has this kind of higher calling to make everybody the best they can be and he’ll go to the ends of the earth for everybody.”
‘America’s Most Awarded Golf Store’ According to the Haggin Oaks website, www.hagginoaks.com, the Super Shop is “America’s Most Awarded Golf Store,” and features 15,000+ square feet of “shopping excellence for golf enthusiasts.”
The Super Shop has been honored over the years, receiving the following awards, according to the Haggin Oaks website, www.hagginoaks.com:
- Lifetime Winner of Golf Digest/Golf World Business America’s 100 Best Golf Shop Award.
- Golfweek Magazine: Public Golf Shop of the Year.
- Golf World Business Magazine: America’s Best of the Best Golf Shop – Public.
- Golf Range Magazine: Top 25 Pro Shops in America.
- Sacramento Magazine: Best Area Golf Shop.
- Gold Country Media Press-Tribune: Readers Choice Best Golf Shop.
- 2-Time Winner: National PGA Merchandiser of the Year Award.
- 5-Time Winner: Northern California PGA Merchandiser of the Year.
- 4-Time Winner: Sports Illustrated Magazine Merchandiser of the Year.
- Top-Flite Golf: National Merchandiser of the Year.
“I really feel, in all the years we’ve been here at Haggin Oaks, we’re always looking to take care of the customer and service them in a way that no other course can, with the variety and the amount of merchandise that we have that people can choose from and then being able to try out the latest and greatest on our driving range, right behind the building,” said Dixon. “It’s a special thing, for sure.”
Over the years, Dixon has also worked at the Complex as a starter, cashier, cart attendant, assistant golf professional, and sales floor manager.
It’s work that he is so very proud of. He is also very proud to be part of the team at Haggin Oaks, which features an expansive driving range, a lighted facility, and learning center, with 100 hitting stalls, Toptracer Range, and raised target greens; Haggin Oaks Academy Holes; MacKenzie Putting Course; Player Performance Studio; Haggin Oaks Shoe Store; Club Performance & Repair Center; and MacKenzie’s Sports Bar and Grille.
“I feel very blessed to be part of the team,” said Dixon. “I’ve learned everything about customer service from Ken Morton, Sr. I learned a lot from him.”
Ken Morton Sr. is a PGA Master Professional and one of the leaders in the golf industry. He was inducted into the National PGA Hall of Fame in 2005. He was honored as the National PGA Professional of the Year in 1998 and has been the recipient of the National PGA Junior Golf Leader Award. He has twice been honored as the National PGA Merchandiser of the Year.
Dixon calls Haggin Oaks a very special place. Morton Golf Management oversees operations at Haggin Oaks.
“The goal is always to take care of the golfing community in Sacramento,” he said.
With the popularity of golf surging in the last year and a half, Haggin Oaks has added to its staff. There are 50-plus employees just in the Super Store. Dixon said he meets with new employees, providing them with the history of Haggin Oaks as part of their orientation.
“It does take a lot of coaching to make sure that we’re all giving the service that the customers deserve,” said Dixon. “I just make sure they understand the culture of us wanting to take care of everyone.”
Said Ken Morton, Jr.: “We have literally thousands of customers who think that he’s the greatest thing ever, because of the way he treats them and makes them feel when they come in the door. Again, we’re so blessed because we have all the staff that can see it done the right way, each and every day.”
Dixon is part of a golfing family.
Bill’s wife, Angie Dixon, is the Executive Director of First Tee – Greater Sacramento. She played college golf at the University of Washington and was named second-team Pac-12 All-Academic in ’92 and ’93.
She turned professional after college and played on the LPGA Futures Tour.
Angie Dixon was inducted into the Sacramento Golf Hall of Fame in 2012. She has been honored twice by the California Golf Writers & Broadcasters Association – in 2018 with the Golden State Award and in 1990 as a senior at El Camino High during the week of the PGA Tour’s AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am at The Inn at Spanish Bay.
She advanced to the semifinals of the U.S. Women’s Public Links Championship, a U.S. Golf Association event, in 1992.
She has worked as a teaching professional at Haggin Oaks, as Director of Instruction at Whitney Oaks Golf Club in Rocklin, and as a teaching professional at Woodcreek Golf Club in Roseville.
Angie Dixon was the founder of the girl’s golf program at Loretto High in 1994. She led the program at Loretto, a parochial school in Sacramento, for 14 years.
Two of Bill and Angie’s daughters, Emily, 21, and Abby, 19, work in the Super Store at Haggin Oaks.
Emily, who played on the women’s golf team at Sierra College, works as a sales associate.
Abby is the assistant merchandiser.
The Dixon’s youngest daughter is Madelyn.
It’s “super special” being able to work with your own kids each day, said Bill Dixon.
Background in golf
Bill Dixon started out on the JV team as a sophomore in 1983 at El Camino High, a team led by coach Vic Martinelli, a health and safety teacher who also coached JV football as well.
Dixon’s improvement in golf came with a lot of hard work – playing and practicing as much as he could. He played in a few junior events around the Sacramento area.
Dixon moved up to the varsity team as a junior and senior. He was named as the team’s most improved player as a junior and a senior, in 1984 and ’85.
“My game developed when I turned 18 and graduated high school,” he said.
Dixon played in the No. 1 spot on “very solid” teams at Sierra College, as the Wolverines won Golden Valley Conference titles in both 1988 and ’89. They were fourth at the Northern California Championships and finished fifth at the State Championships in 1989.
Dixon won the three-round Golden Valley Conference finale at Graeagle Meadows Golf Course in Plumas County. With the low-scoring average, he received the team’s MVP award.
“I have some good, fun memories. I always loved that,” he said of the two years at Sierra. “I’m a nostalgic person by nature. So good memories and things from the past. Those are good two years.”
Dixon was an assistant at El Camino, in 1986, ’87, and 1990, and helping out as much as he could during his two years at Sierra.
“Vic Martinelli was certainly a beloved figure at El Camino High. El Camino had a lot of success with golf in the Capital Valley Conference,” said Dixon.
“(Martinelli) and I had a very close relationship after high school … playing lots of golf, having meals, going to (San Francisco) 49er games, and even vacationing together. He was a special person for sure, and I was truly blessed to have him as my coach and friend.”
Dixon was responsible for checking in resort guests, running the tee sheet, managing the pace of play on the golf course, merchandising, tournament operations, and giving junior and resort guest golf lessons at Princeville Golf Resort.
He had similar duties at Treetops in northern Michigan and assisted Rick Smith, the director of golf when he did clinics for corporate and resort guests. Angie and Bill worked at Treetops seasonally, from April through October, for four years.
They got married in 1995.
“Sacramento is home for us, and so we decided to move back here,” said Dixon. “The Mortons are wonderful and Haggin Oaks has been home. They offered me a job as an assistant professional. Eventually, I worked my way up to management.”
In addition to giving golf lessons and doing club fittings, Dixon has also been the Complex’s night manager and floor manager for the Super Store.
Dixon is also the Retail Sales Manager for the Morton Golf Management Team.
Ken Morton, Jr. and Bill Dixon – best friends
Ken Morton, Jr. and Bill Dixon not only work together at Haggin Oaks. They are also best friends. Their families are also very close.
Ken was the best man at Bill and Angie’s wedding.
Bill was the best man at Ken and Jennifer’s wedding.
The two families have taken vacations together over the years.
“My kids all call him Uncle Billy. All his girls call me Uncle Kenny,” said Ken Morton, Jr., who is with the ownership team at Morton Golf and is a past President-Association of Golf Merchandisers.
Their friendship goes back years and years – starting when Ken was a freshman at El Camino High and Dixon was the golf team’s assistant coach.
“Despite the age difference, there was just an instant bond at that point in time,” said Ken, a 1990 El Camino graduate.
It’s the game of golf that brought Dixon and Morton together. But it’s more than golf.
“That was the spark for so many other things,” said Morton. “We both were passionate about film. My dad (Ken Morton, Sr.) had gotten to know him and the quality, special individual that he is, and hired him on. Bill became an assistant golf pro shortly thereafter. He and I have literally worked a million hours side by side here.”
Dixon got to know Morton by taking him home after practices and matches at El Camino. Sometimes, Dixon would stay for dinner with the Morton family before heading home.
“Even though I’m a couple of years older than him, it just kind of blossomed from there. We just really kind of hit it off, as far as becoming friends. That was in 1987, and we’ve been best friends ever since,” said Dixon.
Ken played four years of golf for El Camino and placed ninth in the California Interscholastic Federation State Championships in 1987.
* Marty James is a freelance writer who makes his home in Napa. He retired on June 4, 2019, after spending 40 years as a sports writer, sports editor and executive sports editor for the Napa Valley Register, a daily newspaper in Napa County. He is a 1979 graduate of Sacramento State and a member of the California Golf Writers & Broadcasters Association. He was inducted into the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Hall of Fame in 2016.