A lot of the stories that we like to cover here have to do with on the course excitement and achievement. This story, however, is an uplifting account of how golf helped save a man’s life.
Valentino Dixon, now 48, had been serving a 39 year to life sentence for murder in a New York state prison for a crime he allegedly committed back in 1991. Once in prison, Dixon picked up an unusual hobby of drawing golf courses. He has never hit a golf ball and has never set foot on a course but he developed a knack for drawing some beautiful portraits of courses.
Dixon began this hobby when the warden of the prison ordered him to draw the 12th hole at Augusta National and continued painting from there on forward. “The guys can’t understand,” Dixon told Golf Digest. “They always say I don’t need to be drawing this golf stuff. I know it makes no sense, but for some reason, my spirit is attuned to this game.”
Valentino Dixon speaking publicly for first time as a free man, since 1991. He was wrongfully convicted of a murder and exonerated this morning. pic.twitter.com/HrARq2A8T9
— WBEN NewsRadio 930AM (@NewsRadio930) September 19, 2018
That spirit that Dixon talks about is what caught the eye of Golf Digest, which has featured several of his paintings in their work. One reporter, in particular, Max Alder, was so interested in Dixon’s paintings that he decided to look into Dixon’s case thoroughly. And when he did, he realized that there were a lot of discrepancies in the case.
After publishing an article in Golf Digest about Dixon’s case, Alder’s work went viral and more news organizations began to pick up on the story. This turned into grassroots movements from citizens protesting Dixon’s conviction and eventually, with the help of New York attorneys working pro bono on his case, Dixon’s conviction was vacated and he was released from prison.
This is a beautiful example of how golf can have a greater reach into the community than anyone could ever imagine. And now that he’s free, we can only hope that Dixon gets to see some of the courses that he depicted in real life.
Cover Image Via Instagram
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