Mayor’s Trophy Charity Golf Tournament to Benefit Junior Golf And Special Olympics Southern California Golf

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mayors-trophy-golf-tournamentLong Beach Mayor Bob Foster and other local dignitaries will join local golfers and tournament sponsors in raising funds for junior and Special Olympics Southern California golf programs during the Fourth Annual Long Beach Mayor’s Trophy Charity Golf Tournament at Skylinks Golf Course on Monday, July 13, 2009.

Presented by Titleist, the Long Beach Mayor’s Trophy is a collaborative effort between the Long Beach Department of Parks, Recreation & Marine, American Golf and the American Golf Foundation, in cooperation with Partners of Parks.  Activities will include a select drive format shotgun start tournament featuring a variety of on-course contests; live and silent auctions; and an awards dinner.

The tournament will be preceded by a golf demonstration hosted by world-renowned paraplegic golfer and trick shot artist Dennis Walters.

A native of New Jersey, Walters enjoyed an exceptional amateur golf career, during which time he swept three state championships in 1967 and led the University of North Texas golf team to four consecutive collegiate championships as a scholarship athlete.  Upon graduation in 1971, Walters turned professional and his future on the PGA TOUR looked promising.

Then, on July 21, 1974, a few days before Qualifying School was to begin, while attempting to meet some friends out on the 15th hole at Roxiticus Country Club in Mendham, NJ, Walters’ golf cart swerved off the cart path and rolled into the trees.  Walters was thrown head-first from the cart, suffering severe damage to his spinal cord and leaving him a paraplegic.

After his release from the hospital and numerous months of therapy, Walters was determined not to let his injury prevent him from playing the game he loved.

He began practicing hitting golf balls from a wheelchair and became quite proficient; but he longed to be out on the golf course. With the help of his father, Walters mounted a swivel seat on the back of a golf cart and soon was able to break 80.  As he became more comfortable playing in the new swivel seat, Walters began focusing on honing his trick shot skills, having watched the films of the legendary trick shot artist Joe Kirkwood.  After attending a golf clinic hosted by trick shot artist Paul Hahn, Jr., Walters decided to embark on a career helping others to overcome obstacles in their lives through the Dennis Walters Golf Show.

Walters began building a repertoire of tricks using an assortment of trick clubs, and gave his first public performance during the 1977 PGA Show.  The following year, he was honored with the Ben Hogan Award, given annually by the Golf Writers Association of America to a golfer who has come back after sustaining major injuries.

Elected to PGA Honorary Membership in 1992, Walters has taken his inspiring, humor-filled Dennis Walters Golf Show to 49 states and performed more than 2,600 shows for audiences of all ages.  He has also brought his exceptional message of hope, courage and perseverance to audiences around the world through his appearance on The Golf Show and countless other television shows.  In August 2008, Walters was honored with the prestigious Distinguished Service Award by the PGA of America.

Along the way, Walters added a canine assistant to the show.  His third trusty assistant, Benji Hogan, was rescued by Walters from the Miami-Dade Animal Shelter in 1996 and became a major attraction – teeing up balls, barking the answers to mathematical and sports trivia questions, and even defeating Tiger Woods in a foot race.  Sadly, Benji Hogan passed away from cancer on May 1, 2008.  Walters’ newest sidekick, Bucky, has joined the show and will soon be entertaining audiences around the country – including junior golfers and Special Olympics Southern California athletes, who will attend the Dennis Walters Golf Show prior to the start of the Mayor’s Trophy.

“My goal is to inspire others to reach for their dreams, strive for excellence, and do something in their life that they never thought they could do,” says Walters.

Proceeds of the Long Beach Mayor’s Trophy benefit junior golf programs throughout the City of Long Beach, as well as Special Olympics Southern California Golf (www.sosc.org).   For 40 years, Special Olympics Southern California has empowered children and adults with intellectual disabilities to become physically fit, productive and respected members of society through sports training and competition.  Golf is one of 12 Special Olympics sports offered, providing numerous opportunities for advanced competition – including the Summer Games held at CSU Long Beach every year.  Special Olympics changes lives through the power of sport and reaches beyond the athletes who participate.  The coaches, volunteers, families and donors all benefit from the opportunities that Special Olympics Southern California brings to their lives.  During the past three years, the Long Beach Mayor’s Trophy has raised more than $110,000 for local junior and inner-city youth golf programs.

“We are pleased to continue the City of Long Beach’s long-standing commitment to provide recreational programs that improve the quality of life for residents of all ages and backgrounds, and the Long Beach Mayor’s Trophy Charity Golf Tournament does just that,” said Phil Hester, Director of the Long Beach Department of Parks, Recreation & Marine.  “Whether you are a golfer interested in enjoying a great day of golf or a local business interested in enriching our community through sponsorship of this worthwhile event, we invite you to join us in making a positive impact on youths throughout the greater Long Beach area.”

Keith Brown, COO of American Golf, added, “We are very pleased to work in collaboration with the Long Beach Department of Parks, Recreation & Marine to not only provide local kids with a healthy, fun activity, but also help instill the many exceptional life skills the game of golf teaches, including honesty, integrity, responsibility and fair play – ideals kids can apply to every aspect of their lives.  We are especially pleased this year to work in partnership with Special Olympics Southern California to help broaden the reach of their outstanding golf program with support from the Long Beach Mayor’s Trophy.”

Entry into the tournament is $225 per golfer or $900 per foursome, and is limited to the first 144 entrants.  Each entry includes green and cart fees, tee gifts provided by Titleist, lunch, dinner and one mulligan.  A variety of sponsorship opportunities are also available ranging from hole sponsors and auction donors to the title sponsor.

For more information and to receive a tournament brochure including both entry and sponsorship information, contact Cindy Elliott at (562) 431-5962 or email cepr@msn.com.

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