The traveling show features host Dennis Walters, who is paralyzed from the waist down, his dog, Bucky, and an assistant, Asher Grogg. All three have a part in the show that typically features trick shots, funky golf clubs and some humor.
The show has been going on for more than 36 years, and after broadcasting more than 3,000 productions over that time, Walters’s most important message to viewers is that they should always have a dream—and try to accomplish it.
While he does not like to talk about the accident that led to his paralysis, Walters explains what happened in his book, “In My Dreams I Walk With You,” and also describes the incident on his website, www.denniswalters.com. But while addressing a crowd gathered at the Sebonack Golf Club, he shared a few details about the accident and how that day forever changed the course of his life.
On July 21, 1974, while playing a few rounds of friendly golf, Walters took a drive down a steep hill and the brakes on his golf cart gave out. He was thrown from the cart and suffered severe spinal cord damage. Walters was diagnosed as a T-12 paraplegic and told he would never walk again, derailing his longtime dream of playing on the PGA Tour some day.
“When that happened to me, it was not looking too good for anything for me,” he told the crowd gathered at Sebonack last week. “I was laying in a hospital bed for years and I never actually thought I was getting out of that bed. Playing golf was pretty far away. But that was a long time ago. I’ve done over 3,000 performances since then.”
The opening act is done by Bucky, who teed up the first ball for Walters. Then Walters asked Bucky a number of questions, which he answered by barking the correct number. For example: “What’s the par at the 18th hole at Pebble Beach,” Walters asked of Bucky, who correctly answered the question by barking five times.
Then Walters, who had already showed the crowd he can more than adequately hit a golf ball, went to his bag of tricks. In the bag were a number of clubs, including one made out of a fishing pole, one with a judge’s gavel at the end of it that he calls his “Judge Judy Club,” and a club with a cellphone at the end of it. He finished the show with what he calls his “Machine Gun Shot,” which involves him firing off five consecutive shots, the last one laced with blue smoke.
All of the shots were done with Walters strapped in a specially designed cart. The seat on the right side of the cart is on a swivel so Walters can sit while performing his show.
Walters is one of only 11 honorary lifetime members of the PGA of America, which includes three former U.S. Presidents: Dwight D. Eisenhower, Gerald Ford and George H.W. Bush. In 2008, the PGA of America presented Walters with its highest honor, The Distinguished Service Award. Previous honorees include Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Byron Nelson and Gene Sarazen, all professional golfers.
In 2009, Walters was appointed a spokesperson and national ambassador for The First Tee, an international youth development organization whose mission is to help children and teenagers by providing learning facilities and educational programs that promote character development and life-enhancing values through the game of golf.
Walters explained throughout his show last week that life values can be taught through the game of golf, and that dreams really can come true.
“You should never ever give up on your dreams,” he said. “A real dream is having a positive thought in your head, having it in your heart, and doing whatever it takes to come true.
“Every single person out here should have a dream,” he continued. “You’re never too young to have one, and there’s no expiration on dreams. There’s another important piece to this puzzle: If you have a dream, and it doesn’t work out for whatever reason, never stop dreaming, get a new dream ... that’s what I did.”