Principality Junior Wales Open welcomes disabled golfers

Principality Junior Wales Open welcomes disabled golfers

Jordan Rosser, one of the disabled golfers able to compete in the
Principality Junior Wales Open under modified rules

The Principality Junior Wales Open has made history as the first mainstream open competition in Wales to accept disabled golfers playing under modified rules.

For the first time this year, Wales’ premier junior golf tournament adopted the Modification of the Rules of Golf for Golfers with Disabilities from the game’s governing body, the Royal & Ancient.

The new rules allowed two disabled competitors, Jordan Rosser and Lewis Eccles, to compete against able-bodied entrants at the qualifying event for the Principality Junior Wales Open at Builth Wells.

In its introduction to the modified rules, the R&A states: “In modifying the Rules of Golf for golfers with disabilities, the desired result should allow the disabled golfer to play equitably with an able-bodied individual or a golfer with another type of disability.”

One of the main benefits of the modified rules saw the young competitors with autism being allowed a “supervisor” to assist with matters relating to rules and etiquette in a tournament which bans caddies for other competitors.

Lewis Eccles, from the Waterfront club in South Yorkshire, came within a whisker of qualifying for the final on Celtic Manor’s celebrated Twenty Ten Ryder Cup Course when he shot a fine round of nett 63 to miss out by a single shot.

Jordan Rosser, from the Vale of Glamorgan, also appreciated the opportunity to compete in the same Under-15 boys’ section and finished with a round of nett 75 at the scenic riverside course at Builth Wells.

Jordan, who has Tourette’s syndrome and hypermobility as well as autism, won last year’s Disabled Golf Association Race to Wales competition, competing against adult disabled golfers.

The 14-year-old said:

I’d like to thank Celtic Manor and the Principality Building Society for allowing the use of the disabled rules for the Junior Wales Open qualifying competition. I played quite well but didn’t score as well as I would have liked on the day but it makes a real difference to play under the modified rules. It is the only way I can compete on a level playing field with other golfers and it’s something we’re hoping more open competitions will adopt.

It was fitting that the Principality Junior Wales Open was the first open Welsh event to adopt the modified rules as the competition’s big brother – the ISPS HANDA Wales Open – has a title sponsor which is dedicated to promoting blind and disabled golf, with the eventual aim of seeing the game accepted as a Paralympic sport.

Daniel Farmer, of the Golf Union of Wales, said:

This is definitely a first in Wales and I think it might be one of the first open competitions in the UK to accept both able-bodied golfers and disabled golfers playing under the modified rules, which are themselves only a couple of years old. Disabled golf has been a particular focus for the work of Golf Development Wales in the last year or so and it is great to see  a national competition being inclusive in this way.

Successful qualifiers from Builth Wells included Rhys Llewellyn of Morlais Castle who returned the best gross score of the day with a fine round of 70. Lewis Jones, of the Monmouthshire club, returned a 73 to win the Under-15 boys’ gross category and Will Bush, of the Cradoc club at Brecon, won the Under-15 nett section with an exceptional score of 59.

Creigiau’s Harrison Evans won the Under-13 boys’ competition with 40 stableford points and the same score saw Pontypridd’s Alice Thomas triumph in the girls’ event.

Builth Wells was one of five qualifying venues during the Easter holidays with other preliminary events taking place at Vale of Llangollen, Langland Bay, Celtic Manor's Roman Road and Radyr. A total of 44 qualifiers will contest a grand final on Celtic Manor's Twenty Ten course on 13th August.