Washtenaw GC Charity Classic 2021: Folds of Honor Benefits

Washtenaw GC Charity Classic 2021: Folds of Honor Benefits

Cloudy skies and threat of rain did not deter dozens of avid golfers from donating their time and money to Folds of Honor in the First Annual Washtenaw Golf Club Charity Classic. It was an afternoon of golf, entertainment, and food at one of Michigan’s best classic courses.

An impressive spread of food before the golf at the Washtenaw GC Charity Classic.

The day began with gift bags at registration and an impressive lunch spread. There were garden, pasta and quinoa salads, many kinds of sandwiches, including vegetarian options and piles of cookies. The BBQ sliders were delicious.

Dennis Walters hits a pure draw from his custom golf cart.

The entertainment headliner for the Washtenaw GC Charity Classic was World Golf Hall of Famer Dennis Walters. An aspiring pro, Walters was paralyzed in a golf cart accident in 1974 at the age of 24. Since then, Walters has continued to play golf in his customized golf cart, and has been performing his golf show, which is one half-trick shots and one-half inspiration.

Walters’ message is of the power of positive thinking and hard work.

Back then just about every single person said it would be impossible for me to play golf because I couldn’t stand up. They were 100% right, so I started hitting golf balls sitting down.

First thing, I tried my wheelchair. It was great to be hitting golf balls. Great for practice. For the course, seven thousand yards uphill, downhill sidehill, forget it. We came up for the idea for the swivel seat that’s sitting on this cart. It sat on this a cart like this for 44 years. Actually 45 when I got the seat.

That’s how I got back on the course After 44 years, over 3,000 performances. I told this story, I’ve encouraged others, just like all of you to reach for your dreams, strive for excellence. Do something in your life that you didn’t think you could.

I am here today on this beautiful day here at Wastenaw on a challenge for each person out there:

Do something in your life that perhaps you think is impossible. I have found that with hard work, dedication and perseverance, you can achieve success at anything. So, never let anyone tell you that you can’t do something or that your dream is impossible. If you are willing to pay the price — and let me tell you something, that’s a mighty big “if”– but if you’re willing to do that, you can accomplish, whatever it is, whatever in the world, it is that you want to do.

Dennis Walters
Washtenaw Golf Club owner and Michigan Golf Hall of Famer Dave Kendall talks with Dennis Walters before the Washtenaw Charity Classic.

Golf was played in a team “shamble format,” with each team of four accompanied by a golf pro (or in one case, a University of Michigan player). It was my first “shamble,” and it turned out to be my new favorite outing format. In a shamble, each player tees off; the best of those is chosen for the location of the second shot. From that point, each team member plays their own ball until they hole out. The best two scores were taken, counting handicaps.

Players at the Washtenaw Golf Classic

It was all lots of fun. I think the shambles format keeps all the players on a group in the game in a way that the traditional scramble doesn’t. You get the advantage of the best drive, but must be fully engaged and focused the rest of the way in.

Dave Kendall, owner of Washtenaw Golf Club and Kendall Academy of Golf, at Miles of Golf, speaks after the outing.

After the golf, players gathered for drinks, heavy hors d’oeuvres and another bit of entertainment from Dennis Walters and his dog (who hits golf balls with a club!).

Golf course architect Ray Hearn spoke for a few minutes about plans for the restoration and rejuvenation of Washtenaw Golf Club to its early 20th century glory. He noted that it is estimated that 367 golf courses were built in the United States before 1900, and that of those, just 100 are left. Washtenaw is one of them.

The evening then became a bit more somber and moving as first Kendall and then Doug Bell, General Manger at American Dunes, spoke about the mission of Folds of Honor.

Folds of Honor offers educational scholarships to the spouses and children of our nation’s deceased or disabled service members. The foundation was created by Lt. Colonel Dan Rooney, a USAF fighter pilot who is also a PGA Professional. Since its creation in 2007, the Foundation has provided more than 29,000 scholarships worth $145 million dollars.

Folds of Honor recently opened American Dunes Golf Club to help support its mission.

Players at the Washtenaw Golf Club Charity Classic to benefit Folds of Honor

Golf has been integral to Folds of Honor since its inception. Dan Rooney is a PGA Professional whose family owned a golf course. The first Folds fundraiser was a nearly impromptu golf outing at Grand Haven Golf Club. Patriot Golf Day events to benefit Folds of Honor. The PGA of America’s PGA HOPE organization has combined forces with Folds of Honor to bring the benefits of golf to veterans with disabilities.

Players at the Washtenaw Golf Club Charity Classic relax on the veranda.

The day ended with the usual distribution of prizes, including new putters, boxes of balls and coupons for foursomes at American Dunes. Those last were great prizes, considering how well received the course has been since its spring opening.

The 2021 Washtenaw GC Charity Classic was top notch. The facilities at Washtenaw are – – as you would imagine for a formerly exclusive country club – – excellent. The veranda, bar, dining room and ball room can surely fit any occasion you would require. The staff is dedicated and friendly. The food was delicious. And the course is so much fun.

I’ll give Washtenaw an unpaid advertisement here. If you’re looking for a place to hold a golf event, a company outing or a social event like a wedding, you owe it to yourself to see what Washtenaw can do for you. Call the club at 734-434-2150.

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