Dennis Haskins Profile: TV Star Rings 'Bell' For Charities

By Kyle Dalton, Contributor

HOLLYWOOD, Calif. - In Hollywood, where more and more stories are about celebrity breakups and drug rehab stays than about the entertainment industry itself, Dennis Haskins is a breath of fresh air.

"Dennis who?" you ask.

Dennis Haskins is a successful Hollywood actor who has most recently played roles on shows such as "The West Wing" and "The Practice." However, you may know him better for his role on NBC's "Saved by the Bell," a popular Saturday morning television show in the late 1980s and 1990s. It was there where Haskins made a name for himself as the fun-loving principal Richard Belding.

Through his 11 seasons on the show, Haskins worked with numerous talented young actors including, and most notably, Mark-Paul Gosselaar, who now stars on NYPD Blue, as well as Tiffani-Amber Thiessen (Beverly Hills 90210) and Elizabeth Berkley (Showgirls).

It was during the middle of his stint on "Bell" when Haskins was afforded a unique opportunity. He was invited by former NBA star and current commentator Charles Barkley to join him for a celebrity charity golf event in Richmond, Virginia at Virginia Commonwealth University. Most would jump at the chance. Haskins was hesitant. He had never hit a golf ball in his life. At the same time, he also knew the event would be for a worthy cause. Finally, with some reluctance, he agreed to attend.

"I had such a bad time (playing) that I decided I better get better at the game or quit altogether," he said.

He opted for the former.

Today, Haskins is a regular at celebrity golf events across the country and has been fortunate enough to meet and play with the likes of Tiger, Michael Jordan, Alice Cooper and other regulars of the celebrity tour circuit.

In fact, it was Haskins' second or third round ever when he was playing with Cooper and Scott Flansburg, the Human Calculator, where he hit one of his most memorable shots.

Haskins said it was on a par 3 at South Shore Golf Course on Lake Las Vegas. He said after he hit his ball, Cooper and Flansburg stared at the ball in flight. At one point, Cooper walked to the front of the tee box. "That might go in," he said in amazement.

Haskins was clueless. "I was so new to the game I didn't even know that it was going to be close. I watched Alice as he watched my ball," he recalled. The ball landed just in front of the hole and bounced once, before it stopped just inches behind the cup. "Alice said if that would have gone in, he was going home," Haskins said laughing.

Haskins said he has shared a lot of laughs and met a lot of great people through the years on the course. And he said it's those individuals supporting the many worthwhile causes that makes playing in celebrity events that much more rewarding.

"All these causes are important to the people that are doing them. It's amazing how much each disease needs these people who put on these events. Golf is a game that brings out the best in people. They are there for the right reason and the causes that are near and dear to their hearts."

If the rest of Hollywood would just take note.

The Scorecard: Dennis Haskins
Woods: TaylorMade 360 Series
Irons: Taylor Made 360 Series
Putter: White Hot Odyssey
Most frequented course: Debell in Burbank
Current handicap: Low 90s

Best shot ever made: In addition to story above, Haskins hit a tee shot on a par 3. The ball went in the cup on the fly, only to bounce up straight into the flag, wrapped around the pin and was then thrown into the nearby sand trap.

Most well known playing partner(s): Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley.

Kyle Dalton, Contributor

Since graduating from the University of Texas in 1992 with a degree in journalism, Kyle Dalton has been a writer and editor for a variety of national publications in various fields.

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