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LET supporting ISPS Handa and Disabled golf: Meeting Tony Lloyd

LET is supporting ISPS Handa & Disabled golf. ISPS Handa, one of our main sponsors, has fostered partnerships with Ladies European Tour among others golf governing bodies worldwide to help develop the game at every level and promote blind and disabled golf.

Over the coming months, we will be following the progression of some pupils from The Golf Academy that we met during ISPS Handa Ladies British Masters. This one is a new story from Tony Lloyd.

We contacted Tony who also attended the ISPS Handa British Masters Pro-Am last year. Tony started to play golf when he was a child and is following the advice of Craig Thomas, director of The Golf Academy. Tony tells us his story here:

Tony after hitting a driver from the tee

A bit about me!

"I was born on 4th July 1970 in UK with what I describe as “elbow length arms”. The nearest I have found to a real name for it is Phocomelia. A lot of people wrongly assume that my disability was caused by the thalidomide drug available in the late fifties, early sixties and was prescribed to pregnant women to help alleviate morning sickness. I’m way too young for that. I just got lucky!!! When I say I got lucky I mean that, there are people out there with disabilities that can make life hard. I may struggle to tie a lace, fasten my top button or put on a tie but there isn’t a lot else I can’t do. I often make light of my disability, I’m even on Twitter as “@shortarmgolfer” but I also embrace it. It has made me who I am. Sure I could just sit around, feel sorry for myself and wonder why me? But hey, where‘s the challenge in that??? I drive a manual car without the need for adaptations....!

The most important part of my life is the time I spend with my 12 year old son Taylor."

His Relation with Sports and Golf:

"I play many different sports but predominantly golf and I have a full time job. For six years I played disabled cricket and for three of those I was Captain of the England team that didn’t lose a match. Leaving cricket behind I played my first disabled golf competition in 2005 and haven’t looked back since.

Golf has always been a passion but hadn’t realised these events were out there. I started playing golf as a child, following my Dad around the course and hitting golf balls on the range. I used his clubs back then as I was small enough to do so. I hold the grip of the golf club under my left armpit and guide the club in my swing with my right hand (or thumb if you like). Unfortunately I soon grew out of his clubs and could no longer use them as they were too short. There were times when I just didn’t think it would be possible for me to play golf. One day I got lucky and met a golf loving technician at a limb centre who was able to build my first club. It wasn’t a professional job by any stretch of the imagination, it was made from a piece of steel piping and didn’t have a grip but it was a start."

A bit about my clubs

"It has been a long road from there and my clubs has gone through six or seven stages of redevelopment. The most significant was in 2007 when my friend Richard Saunders introduced me to Karl Arthur at Titleist.

What Karl has done for me since we met has been nothing short of genius. He has produced clubs that put less strain on my body and have improved me as a golfer. With little tweaks here and there, the clubs have got better and better. The shafts that True Temper made especially at the extra long length I need have got lighter and stronger. Together with the Titleist 910 woods and AP1 irons, even at these extraordinary lengths the clubs are so well balanced. They have improved my ball flight and increased the distance I can hit the ball with every club in my bag.

Originally I was only able to play one or two rounds a week as holding the grip under my arm used to rub and give me friction burns. Even wearing three or four layers, I’d still struggle. Then we stumbled across a grip that has eliminated all trace of the friction burns and I can now play every day. By fitting the 2Thumb putter grip on my clubs, the rectangular shape stops the club twisting uncontrollably but still moves when I need it too.

Thanks to Karl and Titleists’ help I now compete at a decent level, both in disabled events and club competitions at Horsehay Village Golf Club and have managed to win my fair share. Some of the highlights being that I‘ve had a top three finish in three of the four Disabled British Opens. I have represented England a few times and last year I played in my first EDGA European Tour event, the Disabled French Open at Golf National, Paris where I finished fifth."

My plans for 2013

"I’m starting the 2013 season with a handicap of 14.4 and I’m hoping to improve that further. I still feel that a single figure handicap is achievable one day. The simple ambition for this year is to win one of the big disabled golf events."

I am on Twitter as @shortarmgolfer and blog on my website where I also post photographs and videos when I can.

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