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Dennis Walters Finds Silver Linings After Tough USDGA Championship Opening Round

Dennis Walters, a World Golf Hall of Famer, shot a 12-over 83 during the first round of the USDGA Championship at PGA Golf Club in the Seated Division.

Walters, 74, has been confined to a wheelchair for 50 years after a golf cart accident shattered his dream of becoming a professional golfer.

Despite a high score, he keeps a positive outlook, emphasizing how lucky he is to be playing the sport he loves.

Walters said, “I’m 74 and I’ve been sitting in a wheelchair for 50 years, and I shot 83.”

“There’s a lot of dead people who would love to be in my shoes and shoot 83. I’m not complaining about a darn thing.”

Of course, Walters wishes his score would have been lower. So does every other golfer.

But the 83 he shot on the Ryder Course was good enough to leave him tied for second, two shots behind Justin Miller in the Seated Division.

Walters, a Jupiter resident, is the defending champion here and won the Seated Division title in the inaugural U.S. Adaptive Open in 2022.

Walters said, “I really did hit some good shots, but not with the scoring shots. I almost holed a bunker shot, but I missed a 1-foot putt. I didn’t drive it as good, and that’s usually the best part of my game.”

So what does Walters do after the six-hour round? He heads to the putting green to work on his short game.

“He played bad today, and he’s out here grinding like Bernhard Langer would be,” said Russ Holden, who used to caddie for Langer and serves as Walters’ assistant on the course.

“His drive never stops. And what’s amazing is he hasn’t played ‘regular golf’ in 47 years. He epitomizes what a World Golf Hall of Famer should be.”

The USDGA Championship, run by the U.S. Disabled Golf Association and presented by the PGA of America, showcases the talent and resilience of adaptive golfers, including those playing with one arm, one leg, or in a wheelchair.

Walters appreciates the opportunities created by the USDGA, recognizing the importance for younger golfers with disabilities to have competitive avenues in golf.

Chris Biggins leads the men’s overall division with an even-par 71, while reigning U.S. Adaptive Open champion Ryanne Jackson leads the women’s division with a score of 80.

The 54-hole event continues through Wednesday, highlighting the skill and determination of all participants.