DULAC ON GOLF

Trump takes point to push game of golf


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In a pronouncement that was as surprising as it was premature, Time magazine recently named Lydia Ko, the LPGA Tour's 17-year-old sensation, among the world's 100 most influential people.

Nothing against Ko, a wonderful talent who has already won three times on the LPGA Tour and three other times worldwide, but it is difficult to understand how much influence a New Zealand teenager can have when at least 90 percent of the world probably doesn't know who she is.

Donald Trump doesn't have that problem.

He is well-known, and he is among the world's most influential. But if Time magazine really wants to salute a person who is most influencing the golf industry, it should look no further than the business tycoon with the poofy hair and his own television show.

That's right, that Donald Trump.

The Donald.

At a time when rounds are down, courses are closing and new construction is almost non-existent, along comes Trump to pump some life into the industry and invest in the game like no other person in America.

He is putting his very considerable money where his very considerable mouth is by buying up golf properties and stretching his tenacles, not just across the U.S., but across the pond as well.

His latest move was to buy Turnberry, one of the iconic British Open courses along the west coast of Scotland, site of the classic "Duel in the Sun" between Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson in the 1977 Open championship. The purchase price was a reported $63 million and, unlike what he did at Doral when he had the Blue Monster completely overhauled, Trump said, "I'm not going to touch a thing unless the R&A asks for it."

Turnberry was the 17th golf property that Trump has purchased, 12 of which are in the U.S. While golf's recession appears to have no end -- it has been in decline for nearly 10 years -- Trump's desire to gobble up properties and pump some much-needed revenue into a listing industry appears to have no end, either.

No matter what you think of the guy, Trump is putting money into the game at a time when few people are. Whether it's to satisfy his passion -- Trump is serious about his own game -- or make what he thinks is a good business investment doesn't matter. He is impacting the industry, all by himself.

What he did in less than one year at Doral, having architect Gil Hanse move holes, dig lakes and cut down trees, amazed even the PGA Tour players during the WGC Cadillac Championship. He brought the cachet back to the resort and reinvented the Blue Monster as a must-play destination.

But that's not all. His Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J., is not only playing host to the 2017 U.S. Women's Open, it has also been awarded the 2022 PGA Championship.

Imagine, a major for The Donald.

Why not?

He deserves it.

Turning it around

Forty years ago, Dennis Walters dreamed of being a PGA Tour player.

As the No. 1 player at North Texas State, he wanted to become just like some of the players he competed against in college, including Ben Crenshaw. In 1971, he finished 11th in the U.S. Amateur.

But that dream ended one summer afternoon in New Jersey in 1974 when, trying to catch up with some friends on the course, he lost control of the cart and went flying into a tree. Walters was paralyzed from the waist down and never walked again.

Now, 64, he never dreamed he would be doing what he does today -- performing trick-shot shows around the country and telling people to never give up, no matter what the obstacle.

"I just made up my mind I wasn't going to live my life without having golf in it and not having the ability to hit a golf ball because, to me, that feels great when you hit one right in the middle," Walters said. "I didn't want to lose that feeling and I didn't want to live without it."

The Dennis Walters Golf Show, which travels the country making about 100 appearances annually, will be at Oakmont Country Club on Wednesday as part of the Carol Semple Thompson Junior Girls Clinic. His variety of shots and props is as amazing as it is inspiring and it's one of the reasons he has been honored by the PGA of America with its Distinguished Service Award.

Shortly after his accident, Walters began hitting shots from his wheelchair. But, to play golf, Walters need something more than a wheelchair, so he began hitting shots from a swivel seat attached to a golf cart.

It just evolved from there.

"That was a very tough thing for me to deal with," Walters said. "I knew the first day I sat in that seat, I would never play like I did before and that really bothered me for a long time.

"Then one day I said, 'I'm looking at this in the wrong light. I need to look at this not how I used to play but how am I playing right now and can I get any better.' When I found I was getting better, I was able to deal with that."

Palmer improving

Arnold Palmer, who said at the Masters he was probably going to have surgery to alleviate back pain caused by spinal stenosis, may not have that surgery after all.

After having a difficult time walking and finishing the Par-3 Contest at Augusta National, Palmer, 84, said he would likely have a minimally invasive surgery in either Latrobe or Orlando, Fla., to alleviate the pain.

But Doc Giffin, Palmer's assistant, said the other day that the seven-time major champion now might not even have the surgery -- a sign that Palmer is feeling better.

Dissa and data

* The 16th annual Gerry Dulac Parkway West Rotary Classic is July 21 at Sewickley Heights GC. Entry is $195. Register online at parkwaywestrotary.com.

* Twin brothers Dave and Ron DeNunzio Jr. shot 2-over 142 to win the 60th Fred Brand Foursomes Championship at the Longue Vue Club.

* The 2nd annual "Pars for PAAR' event for women is June 2 at Quicksilver GC in Midway. Entry is $125 per golfer and includes breakfast, lunch and gift. The event benefits Pittsburgh Action Against Rape. Register at www.paar.net or email to lisak@paar.net.

Gerry Dulac: gdulac@post-gazette.com; twitter: @gerrydulac. Listen to "The Golf Show with Gerry Dulac" every Thursday 6-7:30 p.m. on 970 ESPN.


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