As the induction of Dennis Walters into the World Golf Hall of Fame draws nearer, Essential Golf takes a look at the life and career of a truly inspirational trick-shot golfer.
Full name: Dennis Walters
Born: September 1948
Hometown: Neptune Township, New Jersey
Turned pro: 1971
Inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame: 2019
Dennis Walters began his unparalleled golfing career in 1967, when he won the New Jersey Junior Championship, Public Links Junior Championship and Caddie Championship, becoming the first golfer to win all three New Jersey amateur tournaments. In 1971, he participated in the US Amateur and came in eleventh place.
That same year—after graduating from North Texas—Walters began playing professionally. Failing to earn a tour card at the 1972 PGA Tour Qualifying Tournament, he started golfing on the South African Tour.
In 1974, Walters had finished playing the South African Tour when a golf cart accident left him paralyzed from the waist down. He was 24 years old. A dream to play successfully on the PGA Tour was compromised, but his love for the game was strong and so a new career of inspiring fans and disabled golfers was born.
Unable to stand, Walters began playing golf again by hitting golf shots from his wheelchair. He progressed to a swivel seat mounted on the passenger side of a golf cart and, since 1977, has made over 3,000 appearances in all fifty states, Mexico, Canada and the UK. He and his dog Bucky estimate around 90-100 shows per year.
During ‘The Dennis Walters Golf Show’, Walters impresses by hitting precise shots with makeshift clubs that include a fishing rod, a crutch, a radiator hose and a cell phone. The involvement of a blindfold or a ring of fire is also a sure crowd-pleaser. Walters appears at PGA Tour, PGA Tour Champions, LPGA and Web.com Tour events, and his show remains popular at local golf tournaments, junior golf events, charity tournaments, club functions and corporate outings. The show is a combination of “Golf Lessons and Life Lessons”.
From 2009 to 2018, Walters was a spokesperson and national ambassador for The First Tee—an international youth development organization that supports character development and life-enhancing values through the game of golf.
Walters is one of only eleven honorary lifetimes members of the PGA of America, which includes three former US Presidents. He received the 1978 Ben Hogan Award and was presented with The Distinguished Service Award by the PGA of America in 2008. In 2018, the USGA awarded him with the Bob Jones Award.
Walters will be honored at the World Golf Hall of Fame Ceremony on June 10, 2019 in Pebble Beach—the week of the men’s U.S Open Championship.
Walters has dedicated his career to sharing life lessons and inspiring others with the message to always continue hoping and dreaming.
“I was laying in a hospital bed 44 years ago, and I never thought I was actually getting out of that bed. I’ve done so many things I’ve never thought were possible, but it also gives me the opportunity to show others what’s possible,” he said when he was inducted into the Class of 2019 World Golf Hall of Fame.
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