Back in the early 1970’s, Dennis was fresh out of North Texas State University, which he attended on a golf scholarship. During his senior year, he led the school to its fourth consecutive Missouri Valley Conference golf championship. That same year, Dennis was runner-up in the prestigious Tucker Intercollegiate Golf Tourney, and finished 11th in the United States Golf Association Amateur Championship.
Dennis’ dream was to become a PGA touring professional. From all appearances, he was well on his way.
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 Neptune, New Jersey, for a visit and 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 Walters was thrown from the cart and suffered severe spinal cord damage.
At a hospital in Morristown, New Jersey, he was diagnosed as a T-12 level paraplegic and told that he would never walk again, which also made playing golf highly unlikely, to say the least. 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. He tried hitting the ball from his wheelchair, but found it to be unsatisfactory. He had trouble wheeling the chair around the course and could not venture onto the greens or into bunkers. Then one day he was struck with an idea.
“Why not mount a swivel seat on a golf cart?”
Working with his father and a couple of friends, Dennis fashioned a seat that would swing away 90 degrees from a golf cart and allow him to play the game he loved. Everyone said it would be impossible, but Dennis defied the odds and was back on the course again.
“I had to experiment and modify my techniques,” say Dennis. “I basically tried to work on things I could do and not worry about the things I couldn’t.
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. Before long, pros were asking him to conduct clinics at their local clubs. “I liked to put on the clinics because they made me feel like I was preparing for a tournament again,” Dennis says.
Those clinics evolved into “The Dennis Walters Golf Show” which Dennis has performed for over three decades and has given over 2,000 performances all across the U.S. and Canada. His program is one not only one of golf lessons but also life lessons as he tells his story and challenges everyone in the audience to do something in their life that perhaps they think is impossible. The show becomes much more than a golf clinic as Dennis presents his positive motivational message and encourages all to reach for their dreams and to strive for excellence.
Dennis’ remarkable repertoire of shots includes sending a 225-yard plus drive straight down the middle of the fairway while blindfolded; the “slook”, where one balls slices and one ball hooks; hitting a ball off the crystal of his assistant’s watch without leaving a scratch; his “death-defying swing through fire” shot; and his”3 iron”, which is a one-of-a-kind club Dennis uses to hit 3 perfect shots at the same time. Dennis also hits pure shots with an assortment of clubs made from a fishing pole, baseball bat, crutch and radiator hose. The finale to the show is his famous, rapid-fire machine gun shot.