MIDDLESEX COUNTY – It was 1974 and a promising young golfer by the name of Dennis Walters had his sights narrowed in on joining the PGA tour.
That same year, a terrible accident blindsided Walters, leaving the up-and-coming golfer paralyzed from the waste down and dashing any hopes he might have of turning pro.
But as Walters might tell his Tamarack Golf Course audience on Aug. 20, he traded in an old dream for a new one.
Today, this physically challenged athlete turned world-renowned showman, has created his own tour, delighting crowds both here and abroad with an hour-long demonstration, a combination of golf and life lessons all rolled into one.
As spokesman and national ambassador for The First Tee, a nonprofit organization that promotes life skills and leadership to youth through the game of golf, Walters is making a special visit to one of Central Jersey’s local affiliates.
The First Tee of Raritan Valley has regularly held seasonal sessions at Tamarack in East Brunswick since 2008.
During that time, hundreds of young golfers, ranging from 5-to-18 years old, have discovered both a valuable resource in First Tee and a life-long love of the game at Middlesex County’s courses.
“He’s teaching our children an immensely important lesson: that adversity shouldn’t be a roadblock to their dreams,” MCIA Liaison and Freeholder Carol Barrett Bellante said of Walters. “Just to be able to see it in-person is quite a privilege.”
Typically, Walters enters center stage on a freshly manicured green via a swivel-seated, single-rider golf cart. He begins each show with a questions-and-answer session, quickly building a rapport with attendees.
Before long, he introduces “Super Dog Bucky,” a canine with rescue-shelter roots, who has an uncanny ability to correctly answer math questions, golf trivia and other general queries through a series of barks.
Yet another staple of every performance is Walters’ “trick shots.”
“Dennis’ theory is that if you have a good swing you can hit good shots with almost anything and he proves this by hitting precise shots with clubs made from a fishing rod, a crutch, a radiator hose and cell phone,” Walters’ website states. “He also has a club with three universal joints on the shaft and a club with three heads. Dennis hits shots blindfolded, through fire and let’s not forget the 200-yard putt.”
Since first kicking off his show in 1977, Walters has made more than 3,000 appearances and performed in all 50 states, Mexico, Canada and even the United Kingdom. He’s become an honorary lifetime member of the PGA – one of only 11 in the world, three of whom were U.S. Presidents. The PGA has also presented him with their highest honor, a distinguished service award.
“This is a legendary figure in the game of golf – right here in our midst,” said Leonard J. Roseman, chairman to the Middlesex County Improvement Authority, the entity that oversees Tamarack’s operation. “It’s a tribute to his courage that Dennis has brought this much wisdom and entertainment to all of us.”
Members of the public are invited to Tamarack Golf Course, 97 Hardenberg Lane, for free entry into The Dennis Walters Golf Show, which is scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. Aug. 20. For more information on the event, contact First Tee representative Mike Blackwell at 732-221-9727 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
For directions to Tamarack, visit the MCIA’s website at www.mciauth.com or call Tamarack staff at 732-821-8881.
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