Talented golfer Jonathan Jones established himself as one of the country’s top disabled players with a superb third place finish in the Disabled British Open.
The three-handicapper shot rounds of 76 and 75 to finish three shots behind the winner in the prestigious tournament which attracts the cream of players from across Europe.
Now Jonathan, 29, a Bernicia Housing Officer for Tenancy and Estates covering Sunderland, has his sights set firmly on playing more tournaments and qualifying again to represent Europe in the Disabled Ryder Cup.
After a year-long break from competitive golf, Jonathan has rediscovered his passion for the game first fuelled by his Dad as a youngster.
“My Dad got me into golf when I was three or four-years-old – the disability I’ve got in my hands needed a lot of physiotherapy when I was younger,” said Jonathan, who is a member of Whitley Bay Golf Club.
“My Dad was a really keen golfer and he got me swinging a club at a really young age just for physiotherapy. The rest of my family helped as well and I was playing properly from about five.
“I have a disability called Arthrogryposis – you are born with six bones in your wrist, when I was developing though there wasn’t enough room in the womb, so the middle three of mine fused together.
“I had about 15 operations when I was younger but you just get on with it and learn different ways to adapt.
“It limits my wrist movement to less than parallel and doesn’t give me a full arm rotation either, but it’s ideal for golf as I haven’t got a full swing so it’s just straight back, straight forward and it still goes about 270 yards.”
Jonathan was one of 68 players at the Disabled British Open played on the demanding Ufford Park course in Suffolk.
“It’s a fantastic tournament because you meet people from all different walks of life,” he said.
“There’s such a prejudice around disabled sports and disabled golf that it’s away from normal standards, but it really is not.
“You’ve got guys who lost legs in war playing off three and four handicaps, real top quality golf.”
Heading into the final round lying second, Jonathan was two-under par through the first eight holes, before falling away slightly on the back nine to finish third.
“It was an absolutely fantastic course and a very well put together tournament,” he said. “I won my category for people with arm disabilities, and overall I finished third. It was a great achievement and one I’ll be proud of for a long time.”
Such is Jonathan’s talent that he lined up for Europe against a USA and Canada side in the Disabled Ryder Cup on a desert course just outside Las Vegas four years ago.
Despite their loss, the whole ten-day experience of representing Europe has made him determined to play in the event again.
“There were golfers from all walks of life, there’s amputees, blind golfers, players with mental and physical disabilities,” he said.
“The event really helps raise awareness of disability. The feeling of playing for your country is incredible, when I played for Europe in the Ryder Cup the feeling was out of this world.
“I’ve got the spark back again for golf so next year I’ll look at trying to get involved in as many tournaments as I can.”
So does he think he can win the British Open?
“100%, absolutely, with a bit more practice. Playing in the Paralympics with golf as an official event would be my ultimate goal.”