The two-time winner of the yourgolftravel.com Disabled British Open, Duncan Hamilton-Martin, from Surrey, will put the imminent defence of his title to the back of his mind this week when he becomes the first amputee to compete in the Seniors Open Amateur Championship inWales.
Hamilton-Martin, 55, who will defend his yourgolftravel.com Disabled British Open title at East Sussex National later this month, heads to the Jack Nicklaus-designed Machynys Peninsula course in South Wales where it is believed he will become the first disabled athlete to compete in the Seniors Open Amateur Championship.
The independent financial advisor, who lives in Esher and is a member at St George’s Hill, Weybridge, lost the lower part of his left leg in a train accident aged just two-and-a-half but he hasn’t allowed the disability to hold him back and he currently plays off a handicap of 2.5.
He explained: “These are mostly people from scratch to plus three and I just scraped in, because anybody off four is excluded. It’s the amateur equivalent of the Open Championship for over-55s, the most prestigious title in able-bodied golf for senior amateurs this side of the Atlantic and I thought I’d give it a bash.
“A couple of months ago I had played in the English seniors but I only got a call a couple of days ago to tell me I was in this event – I was second on the waiting list. I’ve replaced Buzz Fly, from the USA, in match 12, as he can’t make it.”
The medal event comprises two rounds on Wednesday and Thursday for the 144-strong field, with the top 60 making the cut for Friday’s final round.
Hamilton-Martin added: “I wouldn’t put money on be me being there on Friday. A lot of very good golfers I’ve spoken to have not made the third day of the event so if I did that would be a phenomenal result. I’m just very pleased to have got in. I want to produce two good rounds, if I putt well I might make Friday.”
Although golf’s governing body, the R&A, does not keep records of such things, officials there can’t recall anybody with a similar disability ever playing in the event, making Hamilton-Martin something of a flag bearer for both disabled golf and the yourgolftravel.com Disabled British Open.
Modestly, Hamilton-Martin said: “I don’t consider myself to be a flag bearer – I have no flag as such. It’s just good that others are able to see that people who have bits missing can still play good golf. It’s as simple as that really.”
Three weeks after his efforts inWales, Hamilton-Martin will return to East Sussex National to defend his yourgolftravel.com Disabled British Open title – and he anticipates it will be a tougher task than ever.
“Every time I win the people try harder to beat me. There are probably 15 to 20 people who could, if they put together two good rounds, win it. There are some very good low handicappers playing in the event and more turn up each year.
“I know it’s a cliché but you really do take it one shot at a time. It’s a tough course and every single hole could be a triple bogey if you’re not careful. It’s not safe until you’re eight shots clear on the final green…”
The Disabled British Open was conceived in 2009 and delivered by the Accentuate project, funded by SEEDA and the Legacy Trust UK, to create a lasting legacy after the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic games and the junior event has been a continuation of the project’s hard work.
Last year the DBO received support from far and wide including the UK Government – both the Secretary of State for Culture, Media & Sport, Jeremy Hunt MP, and the Minister for Disabled People, Maria Miller MP, praised it for its inclusivity and legacy – the R&A, the European Tour and Wealden District Council.
Entries are still open for this year’s yourgolftravel.com Junior Disabled British Open and for further information about the event, including entry forms, please contact championship organiser Andy Barwell on 01227 807563 or visit www.disabledbritishopen.org