European Senior Tour members Des Smyth, Carl Mason and Paul Wesselingh played with disabled golfers on the eve of the ISPS Handa PGA Seniors Championship at Stoke by Nayland. ISPS Handa and The PGA are in the third year of an academy programme to give PGA pros the expertise to coach golfers with a range of disabilities and more than 200 have already attended the special week long workshops giving nearly 2000 lessons.
The three senior stars paired up in a greensomes shootout with one-legged golfer Chris Foster, short-armed golfer Richard Saunders from Manningtree and Rotherham’s Lewis Eccles, 13, on Stoke by Nayland’s 175-yard par three eighteenth. The one hole challenge was eventually won by the pairing of Mason and Saunders who claimed the honours with a par. Foster lost his leg through bone cancer 15 years ago, but in six years playing golf has seen his handicap come down to 7.6 and now has a goal to qualify as a PGA professional.
Smyth, who will be one of Paul McGinley’s Ryder Cup vice captains said, “It is amazing what they can do with one leg, Chris hit the most wonderful shot and it shows where there is a will there is a way. I have played with one armed golfers and other types of disability and that’s why golf is such a great game, it is for everybody, young, old, people with disabilities – that’s what I love about golf.”
Pictured from left: Paul Wessselingh, Chris Foster, Carl Mason, Richard Saunders, Lewis Eccles and Des Smyth