PGA honorary member Dennis Walters selected as 2018 USGA Bob Jones Award Winner

Dennis Walters
Dennis Walters Facebook
The USGA will bestow its highest honor, the Bob Jones Award, on PGA honorary member Dennis Walters of Jupiter, Fla., at a ceremony on June 13, 2018.
By
USGA

Series: Golf Buzz

Published: Friday, April 13, 2018 | 11:13 a.m.
 
LIBERTY CORNER, N.J. -- The USGA will bestow its highest honor, the Bob Jones Award, on Dennis Walters of Jupiter, Fla., at a ceremony on June 13, 2018, one of the highlights of U.S. Open Championship week in Southampton, N.Y.
 
Presented annually since 1955, the Bob Jones Award recognizes an individual who demonstrates the spirit, personal character and respect for the game exhibited by Jones, winner of nine USGA championships.
 
Known for his never-say-quit attitude, Walters turned the tragedy of being paralyzed from the waist down at age 24 from a golf-cart accident into a personal mission to teach golf and life lessons to a worldwide audience. His story continues to inspire fans of all backgrounds through the countless professional talks and trick-shot shows he has conducted since 1977. 
 
“Dennis Walters exemplifies the values, dedication and passion for golf that all true champions of the game possess,” said Mike Davis, executive director/CEO of the USGA. “He inspires all of us with his belief that anyone can play the game, delivering life lessons through golf, and showing that anything is possible in both life and golf if you’re willing to work hard enough.” 
 
The award ceremony will take place Wednesday evening of U.S. Open week at Sebonack Golf Club, in close proximity to historic Shinnecock Hills Golf Club, site of the 118th U.S. Open Championship. Among the featured speakers for the invitation-only event will be Jack Nicklaus, eight-time USGA champion, 1975 Bob Jones Award winner, and one of Walters’ longtime supporters and friends. 
 
In 1967, at the age of 17, Walters won the New Jersey Junior Championship, Caddie Championship and Public Links Junior Championship, an unprecedented triple crown. He attended North Texas State on a golf scholarship and finished 11th in the 1971 U.S. Amateur Championship. He had reached the final stage of the PGA Tour’s Qualifying School when the accident changed his life.   
 
Determined to return to the game he loved, Walters started hitting golf shots from his wheelchair. A friend created a mounted swivel seat on the passenger side of a golf cart that allowed him to get back on the course again. In developing this unique way to play, Walters showed that it was possible to play golf even if one has a severe disability.
 
In the last five decades, Walters has traveled more than 3 million miles and has made more than 3,000 appearances to energize and motivate audiences in all 50 states, Canada, Mexico and the United Kingdom – many of them for enthusiastic junior golfers and those with disabilities. Walters uses his personal experience to challenge each person he encounters to do something in their life that they thought impossible. His message is simple and profound: with hard work, dedication and perseverance, you can achieve almost anything.
 
“I have been on tour for 41 years, just not the tour I imagined,” Walters said. “I started this path for myself as a mechanism to cope with what I considered to be a hopeless situation. I never knew what I could accomplish with my show or how many people it would reach. I made up my mind and was determined to do whatever I could to still make golf my career and a part of my everyday life. What I didn’t know was how it would extend past the golf community to show others what is possible under almost impossible odds.”
 
Among his many accolades, Walters received the Ben Hogan Award and the PGA Distinguished Service Award for his remarkable comeback .The International Network of Golf honored Walters by establishing the Dennis Walters Courage Award, which is presented annually.
 
“When Diana Murphy called me, I felt many different emotions but mostly disbelief,” said Walters. “I was filled with humility, gratitude and appreciation that the USGA would think that I had done something to earn or deserve an award like this, knowing the ideals and examples that Mr. Jones has set. Having my name added to a list of this magnitude, it’s the greatest thing to ever happen to me.”
 
Walters joins a list of Bob Jones Award winners that includes national champions such as Francis Ouimet (1955), Babe Didrikson Zaharias (1957), Arnold Palmer (1971), Jack Nicklaus (1975), Ben Hogan (1976), Annika Sorenstam (2012), and Payne Stewart (2014), as well as those who have contributed to the fabric of the game in other meaningful ways, such as Richard S. Tufts (1967), Joe Dey (1977), Bing Crosby and Bob Hope (1978), P.J. Boatwright Jr. (1993), President George H.W. Bush (2008), Barbara Nicklaus (2015), Judy Bell (2016), and Bob Ford (2017). 
 
Here's a complete list of Bob Jones Award winners:
 
1955 — Francis Ouimet
1956 — William C. Campbell
1957 — Mildred D. Zaharias
1958 — Margaret Curtis
1959 — Findlay S. Douglas
1960 — Charles Evans Jr.
1961 — Joseph B. Carr
1962 — Horton Smith
1963 — Patty Berg
1964 — Charles Coe
1965 — Glenna Collett Vare
1966 — Gary Player
1967 — Richard S. Tufts
1968 — Robert B. Dickson
1969 — Gerald H. Micklem
1970 — Roberto de Vicenzo
1971 — Arnold Palmer
1972 — Michael Bonallack
1973 — Gene Littler
1974 — Byron Nelson
1975 — Jack Nicklaus
1976 — Ben Hogan
1977 — Joseph C. Dey Jr.
1978 — Bing Crosby & Bob Hope
1979 — Tom Kite
1980 — Charles Yates
1981 — JoAnne Carner
1982 — William J. Patton
1983 — Maureen Ruttle Garrett
1984 — R. Jay Sigel
1985 — Fuzzy Zoeller
1986 — Jess Sweetser
1987 — Tom Watson
1988 — Isaac B. Grainger
1989 — Chi Chi Rodriguez
1990 — Peggy Kirk Bell
1991 — Ben Crenshaw
1992 — Gene Sarazen
1993 — P.J. Boatwright Jr.
1994 — Lewis Oehmig
1995 — Herbert Warren Wind
1996 — Betsy Rawls
1997 — Fred Brand Jr.
1998 — Nancy Lopez
1999 — Edgar Updegraff
2000 — Barbara McIntire
2001 — Thomas Cousins
2002 — Judy Rankin
2003 — Carol Semple Thompson
2004 — Jackie Burke Jr.
2005 — Nick Price
2006 — Jay Haas
2007 — Louise Suggs
2008 — George H.W. Bush
2009 — O. Gordon Brewer Jr.
2010 — Mickey Wright
2011 — Lorena Ochoa
2012 — Annika Sorenstam
2013 — Davis Love III
2014 — Payne Stewart
2015 — Barbara Nicklaus
2016 — Judy Bell
2017 — Bob Ford
2018 — Dennis Walters