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"If there is something you really want to do - no matter how impossible it may seem - with enough hard work and perseverance you can do it," says Dennis Walters.
He should know. Dennis is the only person paraplegic who earns a living as a professional golfer. Back in the 1970's, Dennis's goal was to become a PGA touring professional.
To sharpen his skills, Dennis spent 1973 competing on the South African tour and in mini-tour events in the U.S. Shortly before the 1974 Tour Qualifying Event Dennis went home to New Jersey to play a few friendly rounds of golf. On July 21, 1974, he was riding a golf cart down a steep hill on a course near his house when the brakes failed. Dennis was thrown from the cart and suffered severe spinal cord damage.
He was diagnosed as a T-12-level paraplegic and told that he would never walk again, which also made playing golf highly unlikely. However, at age 24, Dennis was determined to prove otherwise. After five months of rehabilitation, Dennis went home. Immediately, he began searching for ways to make playing golf practical. Then one day he was struck with an idea.
"Why not mount a swivel seat on a golf cart?"
With the help of his father and friends, Dennis fashioned a seat that would swing away 90 degrees from a golf cart.
Dennis taught himself to hit sand shots and to putt one-handed while balancing himself on his crutches, and got his game to the point where he could break 80 on an average course.
He continued practicing his game, and people started noticing what Dennis could do. Pros began asking him to conduct clinics at their local clubs. Those clinics evolved into "The Dennis Walters Golf Show," a one-hour combination of golf mastery and human inspiration. Since 1977 Dennis has traveled to 49 states, Mexico and Canada, and has given over 2800 performance.
As Dennis says in every show, "If you have a dream and it doesn't work out, never stop dreaming, get a new dream!"
His famous trick shots, or as Dennis likes to call them – "shots from unusual lines," are achieved with a wide variety of clubs made from a fishing rod, a crutch, a radiator hose and a cell phone. During his show, Dennis also hits shots blindfolded and through fire. Woven throughout the show is Dennis's powerful message that with hard work and perseverance, anything is possible.
And we can't forget his opening act: Super Dog, Bucky, who was rescued by Canine Castaways. Dennis believes if you are looking for a dog or cat, an animal shelter or a rescue group is a great place to begin your search. Bucky is Dennis's best friend and is best known for his uncanny ability to correctly answer questions by barking out the answers. He is very good in math, general information, and golf trivia.
In 2002, Dennis wrote an autobiography called, In My Dreams I Walk with You. In his book he talks about his incredible journey. Dennis's story is now available as an eBook. In the eBook, buyers will get exclusive access to video links, embedded media and a bonus photo album! The book is for sale exclusively on his website www.denniswalters.com.
Dennis is one of only 11 honorary lifetime members of The PGA of America. This unique club includes three former Presidents of The United States, Eisenhower, Ford and George HW Bush. In 2008, The PGA of America presented him with their highest honor, The Distinguished Service Award.
In 2009, Dennis was appointed a spokesperson and national ambassador for The First Tee, an international youth development organization whose mission is to impact the lives of young people by providing learning facilities and educational programs that promote character development and life-enhancing values through the game of golf. It's a great fit for Dennis, as he's always tried to grow the game of golf and positively influence others.
Read more about Dennis at his website, www.denniswalters.com.
Here's the moving tribute to Dennis that was shown at the PGA Award Ceremony: