The LET is supporting ISPS Handa 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 2012. This blog is from Tony Lloyd, who suffers from Phocomelia. This is a story about overcoming adversity when it finds you. Read Tony's first blog here.
Tony Lloyd hits a shot
Tony reports: "During the winter months I've been practising really hard on the range, working on my swing and putting in a lot of work that will hopefully pay off once the golf season is upon us. I'm practising at the Shropshire GC which is a lot closer to home than my club. I have to pay for the golf balls but I'm saving on petrol costs. Luckily, I actually enjoy practice. By setting myself targets and making up games, it creates a bit of an edge to it and keeps it interesting rather than just hitting balls aimlessly.
Image from my visit to The Belfry with fellow disabled golfer Andy Gardiner (left), Liam Batty, James Ward (our guests for the day) and Tony
The cold snap has been a blessing as it has meant very little rain and finally the golf courses have had the chance to dry out. Following months on the range, over the last few weeks I've been able to get out on the fairways and play some golf.
As well as a couple of rounds at my home course, Horsehay Village GC, I have had the chance to play three others. Whittington Heath GC and Worfield GC were both great days out but I started my run off in style by playing the world famous Brabazon course at The Belfry. I was there to represent The Children's Christmas Wish List charity with disabled pro golfer Andy Gardiner.
When I played the Brabazon in October last year I think I was in awe of the place and I think that got the better of me as I struggled. This time I attacked the course and played so much better. With a final scorecard showing 89 strokes, I was over the moon to have shot close to my 14 handicap. I had set myself a target of breaking 90 and needed to hit a bogie five on the Par 4 18th hole. With two carries over water it's a big ask no matter what your handicap but I managed it! As with last October I also managed a Par 4 on the iconic 10th hole. It should have been a birdie as my second shot left me within 10 feet of the cup. I just under hit the downhill putt. Just to top things off, I edged Andy in our friendly Matchplay game. It's always nice when the Pro has to buy the coffee…
Tony and a friend on 18th hole at Worfield Golf Club
At Whittington Heath I struggled a bit with some of my iron play. The course is heathland and is fantastic for winter golf and on this day it was bone dry, so I had no excuses. I was playing with some of the lads I know from The Shropshire GC and I think I was a trying a little hard to impress them. Thankfully my short game and scrambling was very good so I managed to avoid any major disasters. I dropped in a nice birdie two on the Par 3 13th. A 7 iron off the tee to around 12 feet was a welcome relief after a few bad connections. We all had some good holes but the shot of the day came on the 2nd hole from Tom, the teaching Pro from The Shropshire. With 198 yards to go he struck a perfect 6 iron and holed it for an eagle two!!
I've been playing well from tee to green on my home course and on the others too which shows the range work has been worth it. My putting needs a bit of work now though and I need to get the positive attitude I have with my other clubs when I'm standing over a putt. On 14th March I played Worfield GC with the Royale Dawley Golf Society and tee to green, it was the best golf I've played since I finished runner up in the Disabled British Open in 2011.
My handicap for the society is lower than normal as I did well in a couple of events last year. So playing off 12 I managed 33 points. The front nine went well and I was putting well on the fast greens until we came across a slow one around the turn. After that I was leaving everything short and had six three putts!! I did have two birdies though which were both on holes where I had a shot, these were worth four points each. I won overall and with a birdie two as well I walked away with a nice chunk of change. The only downside is I'll be playing off TEN next time around…
I'm really excited for the coming season now if I can carry my winter form forward."