Posted: Mon 17th Jul 2023

Flintshire’s Stuart Hutcheson clinches Blind Golf British Open in debut season

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Monday, Jul 17th, 2023

The prestigious International Blind Golf British Open now has a new champion – Stuart Hutcheson, from Broughton.

The Flintshire golfer (pictured top, left) a member of Chester Golf Club, emerged victorious amidst a host of international golfers at one of the world’s most respected Blind Golf Tournaments.

Stuart, along with his trusted caddy guide, John Smith, clinched this impressive victory last week at the beautiful setting of Belton Woods in Lincolnshire.

John (top right) who is also a member of Northop Golf Club, played a pivotal role in guiding Stuart to this monumental success.

Notably, the International Blind Golf British Open is one of nine annual events held on the International Blind Golf Tour and the only such event on UK soil.

Incredibly, this was Stuart’s debut season on the England & Wales Blind Golf Tour.

He currently ranks 11th in the Order of Merit, within a field primarily consisting of seasoned International Golfers, all of whom have represented their respective countries.

Upon reflecting on his triumph, Stuart said, “I’m totally blown away. My main ambition this year was to reach the top 10 in the Order of Merit. Winning an international event, particularly the British Open, on my first attempt, is simply beyond my wildest dreams.”

Addressing the unique challenges he faces as a blind golfer, Stuart shared, “I’m wholly reliant on my guide and our on-course spotter to know where the ball’s gone. I trust John completely to line me up and decide what shot to hit,” he explained.

John’s contribution to Stuart’s success is immeasurable.

His in-depth knowledge of the game, understanding of Stuart’s capabilities, and unwavering support on the course have proven invaluable.

Stuart had to surmount not only his visual impairment but also a hernia operation in May, which left him unable to swing a club for six weeks.

However, his rigorous training regimen and passion for the sport have paid off in the form of this significant victory.

Stuart has been playing golf since he was six.

At the age of 25, he was diagnosed with Stargardt’s Disease, a type of macular degeneration that led to the loss of his central vision.

Following a hiatus of 25 years, he returned to the game last year upon retiring at 50.

[Stuart and John along with the Winner of the Women’s British Open Amanda Large also from the UK.]

Blind golf allows for some rule modifications to accommodate golfers with disabilities, such as allowing the club to ‘ground’ in a bunker or hazard and permitting the caddy to stand behind the flag.

Stuart characterises the community of blind golfers as “one big family,” where every golfer and caddy guide shares similar experiences and frustrations.

Despite this, the bond of friendship remains exceptionally strong.

Stuart’s future goals within the sport are as ambitious as his performance.

He aims to represent England in future tournaments, participate in as many international events as he can, and compete in the World Championships.

When asked for advice he would give to other visually impaired individuals considering golf or other sports, Stuart urged, “Get in touch with England & Wales blind golf and go for it. Making that decision last year has completely transformed my life.”

In a bid to promote the sport and the England & Wales Blind Golf Tour, a registered charity, Stuart highlights their constant need for corporate sponsors.

The tour recently attracted international golfers’ attention, with Bryson DeChambeau and Charles Howell participating in a Blind Golf trial alongside members of the England & Wales Tour during the LIV Golf Tour in London.

With Stuart’s victory, he has now been invited to play in all nine International events, with the first invite for the Irish Open in September already in hand.

Stuart makes a heartfelt appeal to local companies for sponsorships, saying, “Any local companies who would like to sponsor us so that we can travel to these events would be a godsend.”

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