Nathan Hill with his grandfather John
The Ladies European Tour first encountered Nathan Hill three years ago when he attended a clinic for blind and disability golfers during the 2012 ISPS HANDA Ladies British Masters, aged 15.
This week, Nathan, who was born blind and severely autistic, not only attended another clinic, but he also played his first 18 holes in the Pro-Am at Buckinghamshire Golf Club ahead of the ISPS HANDA Ladies European Masters: a huge success story both for Nathan and his coach, Craig Thomas, the lead coach in the ISPS Handa PGA Academy Programme.
Craig commented: “This week sees a pretty powerful story concerning Nathan Hill, who first came here in 2012 as a non-golfer and was one of the first ISPS HANDA Academy recruits. He is here today playing his first ever golf tournament on a full 18-hole course in the Pro-Am as one of the ISPS HANDA teams so it just shows the power of sport and the power of golf and what it can do to inspire people.
“Nathan was a very quiet subdued young man and now he’s quite the opposite. Through the Academy programme, we’ve seen him mature. He started as a boy and at the end of this week he’ll turn 18 and leave the tournament a man! When you consider that someone who has been born blind can play in a Pro-Am, it’s pretty amazing. It shows that golf is a game for everybody and it doesn’t matter what impairments you have.”
From left: Craig Thomas, Nathan Hill, LET golfers Karolin Lampert and Leigh Whittaker (right) at the clinic with golfers from the Battle Back Golf Programme.
ISPS was founded by Japanese philanthropist Dr Haruhisa Handa in 2006 to support charitable causes throughout the sporting world. ISPS’s support for golf is founded in its belief in the “power of sport” and it has fostered partnerships with golf governing bodies worldwide to help develop the game at every level and promote blind and disabled golf.
ISPS’s heritage in supporting blind and disabled golf and Dr Handa’s interest and philanthropic contribution in golf has formed the foundation of its wider mission for golf to become a Paralympic sport. Outside of golf, ISPS’s support extends to other sports including rowing, football, polo, bowling and the convening of discussion platforms for young leaders in sports.
Nathan and his grandfather John Sanders, who acted as his caddie during the Pro-Am, have clearly benefited from the work of ISPS and Nathan commented: “I’ve been with Craig for four years and he’s been helping me a lot. I love how Craig explains things. I was really shy at first but now I’ve got the confidence for it I feel absolutely brilliant and I love playing golf. I’d like to win a tournament now because I came third in the England and Wales par 3 championships, which Craig says I’m too good for, because I’m very strong and I want to get going on a new course.”
The Ladies European Tour will continue to document Nathan’s progress and the valuable work of ISPS.
Further information: www.ispsgolf.com