D.J. Gregory, man who has handicap of 36, gives great inspiration for golf fans

Ariy-El Boynton

Ariy-El Boynton

While I struggle to pass Geography 132, History 480 and attempt to cure my mid-20s’ blues, there are people out there doing great things.

D.J. (Donald John) Gregory, a man for whom I have the utmost respect, might have the most impact on the PGA Tour this year. He will not be on any leader boards, jump in any lakes (at least not on purpose), hoist any trophies or win any skins. Instead, Gregory will hold a cane, keep his head up and walk every hole in the PGA Tour.

Gregory, 30, a Savannah, Ga., native, approached CBS announcer Jim Nantz, about his idea. “I’d like to go to every PGA Tour event next year,” said Gregory, “and write about tournaments, interacting with players and fans and volunteers.”

Nantz then told the Tour’s commissioner, Tim Finchem. Finchem granted Gregory the ability to walk 37 events of the Tour in 38 weeks. With the Tour’s help, the man who holds a master’s degree in sports management from Springfield College (Mass.), follows one golfer a week at a different golf course. He provides updates from a very unique perspective which showcases the individuals and how difficult the course is to walk.

So far the gutsy man has made his way successfully through the courses in Augusta, Ga., Hawaii, Scottsdale, Ariz., Palm Beach, Calif., Florida and New Orleans.

He has walked all 72 holes covering the likes of Heath Slocum, Kenny Perry, Bob Tway, Boo Weekley, Lucas Glover and Kenny Perry. He meets the golfers and gives background information and insights to those who he covers.

He said he would rather not select the golfers but wants the tour to.

“I want the players to want to do this and not feel like they have to,” he said. “If I get Tiger Woods, that would be great, but it’s entirely up to the PGA Tour.”

He can hit the ball about 125 yards, and his golf handicap is reported as a 36, the worse handicap a golfer can carry. Some say that he has a handicap of the worst kind, but he disagrees.

“I don’t see myself as having a disability. I just look at it as maybe it’ll take me a little longer,” he said.

In a day when athletes like Mike Tyson, Michael Vick, Floyd Landis (Tour de France doping scandal) and Tim Donaghy, the steroids epidemic, the Olympic Games mess and Spygate give sports a horrible image; it is great to see someone with the courage to stand tall and walk through pain and rough weather.

Two weeks ago, he was able to see the likes of Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer at the Masters, one of the greatest thrills for him this season. The South Carolina native also profiled the very interesting Bubba Watson, who may have given Gregory one of the greatest surprises of his life.

One of Gregory’s standard questions to the ball strikers is, “Who is your biggest idol or hero and why?” Watson, gave him a shock when he gave his response:

“What if I say you, because I heard your story and watched you walk through the golf courses, and to be a part of some of your stuff and do this interview with you and watch you do your goals, it’s a blessing and honor to watch.”

These exchanges put a face on a sport which at times can be very boring and dull; I believe the PGA tour owes a big thank you to Gregory for the excellent public relations which he shares at: http://www.pgatour.com/2008/r/01/31/dj.blog/index.html.

D.J. has certainly given many “thank you’s” in his blog to all of the people who gives him motivation and kind words. Truly, the man who is living his dream is humbled from his experiences.

The golf course he has walked has humbled him 14 times so far, according to his spreadsheet. He has also had 101 sodas, 109 bottles of water and 44 sports drinks.

The 37 events plus the Ryder Cup is estimated at 700 miles, or from Brookings to South Bend, Ind. Gregory so far has walked 315 miles and 1,123 holes and has traveled 19,319 miles.

He has gotten several sponsors from all over, and I feel like I personally benefited from those who have provided for the man to write a weekly blog.

While Gregory will not receive a winnings check this year, his fight has given the greatest gift an athlete can give.