According to Dennis Walters’ estimate, he watched a 16-millimeter film by trick-shot artist Paul Hahn Sr. perform his 1960 PGA Championship show “500 Times on the Wall”.
It was in the mid-1970s when Walters, a native of Neptune, was looking for a way forward after the PGA Tour-linked golfer was paralyzed from the waist to his feet in a golf cart crash while not was only 24 in 1974.
On Monday night, Walters will star in the film “Get A New Dream,” an hour-long documentary about his inspirational journey since being told he would never play the game again until his induction in 2019 at the World Golf Hall of Fame. It airs on the Golf Channel at 8 p.m. and reruns Wednesdays at 5 p.m.
“It’s very exciting,” Walters said in a telephone interview from his home in Jupiter, Florida. “It’s something different and I hope it’s a way for me to reach more people and show them what’s possible, not just in golf but in life itself.”
It is the latest culmination of an incredible career that includes the 2018 Bobby Jones Award, the United States Golf Association’s highest honor.
Today the Dennis Walters Golf Show, featuring Walters hitting a series of strokes from his specially designed golf cart, telling stories and giving life lessons, has been around for nearly 45 years and is forever entrenched in the sports fabric.
The documentary is narrated by legendary announcer and Jersey Shore native, Jim Nantz, and features interviews with the greatest players of all time, including Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods and Gary Player, as well as a previously recorded interview with Arnold Palmer.
“It’s extremely humiliating because of who’s in it and what they’re saying,” Walters said. “I hope this will be entertaining and uplifting for a lot of people, and that’s what I’ve tried to do for the past 44 years. To show people what is possible. To encourage them to achieve their dreams, strive for excellence, and do something positive in their life that they didn’t think they could do. And telling my story, hitting great golf shots, telling bad jokes and always having a rescue dog with me is what I try to do.
The project actually started a few years ago when Spring Lake native Tim McEneny approached Walters at the driving range of a golf course in Florida to ask him to make a documentary. McEneny’s golf instructor is Wayne Warms – Walters’ best friend, another Neptune High School graduate, and a member of the New Jersey PGA Hall of Famer – so he knew Walter’s story.
The pandemic ultimately delayed production for a year, while effectively shutting down Walters’ show during the first 12 months of the pandemic.
“I stayed at home in the summer of 2020 for the first time in my life,” he said. “I just kept training. The golf courses were closed and for six weeks I had to drive an hour and practice on a vacant lot in Broward County.
“But everything is relative. I really love the place where I live and have practiced everyday. But I missed the interaction with the crowd. You cannot in practice simulate what it is like to put on a show. It’s like playing in a tournament. When they give you a scorecard and a pencil, it’s different from playing with your buddies. So I missed the ability to try to do something positive and make contributions. “
Walter’s first actual show was at the 1977 PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando, Florida.
“I did it with Bob Toski and Jim Flick, and we threw the ball into the water behind the contemporary Disney hotel,” Walters said. “And my friend Gary Wiren, who’s in the documentary, put it all together. And that was over 3,000 shows ago.
Now, after getting back on the road and doing 35 shows in 70 days last summer, Walters, now 72, is eagerly awaiting a full schedule of events across the country in 2022.