A true highlight of what it means to be a PGA Member is how you adapt to difficult situations and circumstances that get thrown at you in the line of duty.
This sentiment is certainly true of Chris Mathews who has overcome obstacles whilst undertaking a teaching programme with one of the country’s leading disabled amateur Golfers, Jonathan Jones, at his home club of Whitley Bay in the North East of England.
Seeing clients improve their golf at any level is one of the benefits of being a PGA Professional coaching the sport but to see a student progress in the face of adversity as Jonathan has, has been one of the highlights of Mathews’ short career at the North East Club.
“He used to be a junior at Wallsend where I played with him” explains Mathews, “We met up again and we really started to ignite his passion for golf once again and we have both been surprised with how fast this has developed.”
Jonathan has a disability called Arthrogryposis, which caused his wrist joints to fuse before birth effecting muscle tissues which help extension in the effected joints.
“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,” Jones explained.
“My dad was a really keen golfer and he got me swinging a club at an early age as an act of physiotherapy, the rest of my family helped, and I was playing properly from about five.”
Under Mathews’ tutelage Jones has performed above expectations and found himself in the mix at the recent Disabled British Open finishing a credible sixth and has represented Europe against a USA & Canada side in the Disabled Ryder Cup in Las Vegas.
The work carried out by Mathews shows how golf can transcend across the boundaries of disabilities and stereotypes and allow an all-encompassing of abilities to the great game.
Mathews has worked on areas of the game he saw fit and helped turn Jonathan’s perceived negatives into positives out on the course, “He has always been a steady golfer but lacked distance, which was hardly surprising given his condition. We looked at the game with some simplicity and identified areas to work on that would benefit his game”
Mathews identified areas in his swing that helped create a plan for on the course, “With the disability Jonathan has it limits his wrist movements to less than parallel and does not allow a full arm rotation on the club, we adapted areas and simplified the swing so that his disability became ideal for golf, straight back straight through worked and he began to hit the ball true and far”
The hard work of the pair has paid dividends and has reignited a spark for the game and has both heading for lofty ambitions: “paying in the Paralympics with golf an official event would be my ultimate goal.”