Meet D.J. Gregory, the golfer, not the music producer. Gregory was born with Cerebral Palsy. He loves golf. He plays golf, and in 2008, DJ made a commitment to walk every hole of every 2007-2008 PGA tournament. He accomplished his goal and walked 900 miles. He is beloved in the golf community and is an inspiration to thousands. Read his biography, see photos and videos below.
D.J. Gregory completed his goal to walk every round of every PGA event that year. Covering 900 miles of the world’s finest golf courses inside the ropes, the world’s finest golfers are in awe of this young man. D.J. documented his days on the golf course at his PGA blog site, where he made the announcement that he would be walking with a professional golfer in each of the tour’s 44 events, interviewing his Pro and blogging about it.
Along the way, D.J. raised money for Cerebral Palsy. Southwest Airlines hosted his domestic flights. Continental Airlines picked up the cost for the British Open and the Canadian Open. Footjoy donated shoes, Outback Steakhouse donated meals, and Ashworth provided golf shirts. Canon and Ritz-Carleton Marriott were also donors.
The PGA calls D.J.’s journey “The Longest Walk in Golf.” Gregory walked 44 tournaments, each with four days of golf, or a total of 72 holes. That’s 3,168 holes of golf for the season.
While every PGA player is required to walk the course, most players do not play in every tournament though-out the year. Phil Mickelson’s website shows 24 tournaments played in 2008. Think about this, because of the effects of Cerebral Palsy, D.J. says for every step others take, he must take two.
D.J. Gregory was born on January 10, 1978. He is 31 years old, grew up in Greensboro, NC. and now resides in Savannah, GA. His parents are Don and Jackie Gregory, who also live in Georgia.
Gregory was born ten weeks premature. His Cerebral Palsy is thought to be a result of an oxygen treatment applied at birth to inflate his collapsed lungs. His life was saved but blood vessels in his legs burst, causing the palsy. D.J. says he has a “very mild case” of the condition which could have rendered him completely paralyzed and with brain damage. His biggest handicap is his balance, which he helps along with the use of a cane.
At two years old, the Gregory’s were told their son would never walk and that a wheelchair would in the boy’s future. These parents, however, had a different plan in mind for their son. D.J. says he did the “Army” crawl to get around the house. “Countless surgeries” attempted to straighten his legs, as well as “many” eye surgeries to repair the complications of Cerebral Palsy. He endured four-wheeled walkers, two crutches and eventually a cane, but never gave up because he knew he was making progress. His father is quoted saying: There was something about D.J….something about his heart.”
Gregory became fascinated by golf at the age of six. Both of his parents are golfers. When he was 9-years-old, they taught him to swing a golf club one-handed and use his cane for balance with this right hand. When he was 12-years old, his dad took him to his first PGA event, the Greensboro Open (known as the Wyndham Champship today). There he met Ken Venturi, with CBS Sports and so began his intense involvement with the sport.
Gregory left home to head for college at his father’s alma-mater, Springfield College in Massachusetts. He graduated in 2002 with a BA, and a Masters in Sports Management. During his Master’s studies, he roomed with Taylor Ives, the Merrill Lynch Shootout Tournament Director. Ives says D.J. would “regularly” out-shoot dorm-mates during games of H-O-R-S-E.
Along the way, Gregory had been working on his own game of golf. D.J. says his game “sucks.” He shoots between 105 and 115 with a 36 handicap. His golf handicap is worse than his physical handicap, he says. An admirer commented: “in reality, DJ’s one-armed swing is more fluid than Arnold Palmer’s.”
For three years, D.J. worked on a business plan. After college while at the Plantation Course at Kapalua Resort in Hawaii, so the story goes, he completed the plan for his walking tour. It was given to his good friend, Jim Nantz of CBS Sports. Nantz took it to the PGA Tour Commissioner, and Gregory was on his way to walking every PGA 2007-2008 tournament.
Outside of Gregory’s golfing career, and credentials as a member of the media, he is another kind of entrepreneur. He took a sabbatical from his web-based E-Bay business, which he works out of his home, to walk the tour. He is also an official blogger for the PGA.
Gregory will continue as an Ambassador for United Cerebral Palsy. His book, Walking with Friends: An Inspirational Year on the PGA Tour, is due on bookshelves May 5th, 2009. Mark Twain famously said: Golf is a good walk spoiled. D.J. doesn’t think so.
D.J. Gregory, United Cerebral Palsy
D.J. Gregory “Walks On” (Video)
D.J. Gregory Walks PGA Tour (Video)