Elliott Heath meets the inspirational Chris Foster who was diagnosed with bone cancer at the age of five, had a leg amputated at the age of nine and is now living his dream as a golf professional
GM Meets Chris Foster: The Inspirational One Legged Golf Pro
I met Chris on day one of the recent Sunningale Foursomes where he and his partner were playing the famous Old course in the group ahead of Paul and Craig Lawrie.
A large crowd had gathered around the first tee as Chris approached the teeing ground, put down his crutches and smashed one away down the middle. A "necky fade" he later told me, although it still travelled the best part of 280 yards.
Related: Sunningdale Old Course review
Chris was diagnosed with bone cancer at the age of five and went through chemotherapy before the cancer came back - they decided to amputate his left leg at the age of nine.
However, that didn't stop him from working hard to become an inspiration to many, and a spearhead for disabled golf in the UK.
Chris' opening tee shot in the Sunningdale Foursomes:
GM Meets Chris Foster: The Inspirational One Legged Golf Pro
"It's just one of those things. I was quite lucky the fact that I was young when it happened so you sort of adapt how to get over it and bits and pieces, whereas you start losing it when you are 20 or 30 when you have had most of your life. I've had more years like this than I've had with two legs so I've adapted."
So how did you get into golf then?
"I used to be a swimmer for GB. Unfortunately I got injured with my shoulder so I had to give that up. My dad and my brother played golf and I started playing up the driving range a little bit and just fell in love with it really. Then I found out I had started to get good at it and then decided I wanted to do my PGA and coach. That's the main aim."
"I got my handicap down to four to do my PGA. It's taken me probably nine years to get down to it. I was 18, so nine years to get down to what I needed to. I signed on with the PGA last September."
Related: How to become a PGA professional
And you find it easier playing without a prosthetic leg?
"Yeah I do. Because I'm a through-hip amputee it sort of wraps around my waist so you don't get your turn. It's very, very difficult to get your turn so therefore you don't get any power.
"I've got the balance because I lost the leg at such a young age so I'm pretty good with the balance side of it. So it's pretty much I've got that power because I can turn through the ball."
Watching at the Sunningdale Foursomes, people in the crowd were genuinely in awe of you and inspired. How does it feel to be an inspiration?
"There's a few people out there. I don't see myself as an inspiration. If by me being seen I start to get other people involved with golf, whether it be another leg amputee, somebody else with a disability or able-bodied.
"As far as I'm concerned that's what I want so that's why I do what I do and why I like playing in tournaments like this.
"Especially the coverage we do get, It's really good because disability golf especially is growing, but not enough. They're trying to get in the Paralympics and things like that but it's difficult. So we're hoping we get a few more from it and if that's because they've seen me then happy days.
What's your best round?
"I shot a five-under 68 round the London Club. It's not the easiest course. We had an England vs France match over there in disabled golf. In the singles on the second day I played the International and just everything went right. Putts were dropping left, right and centre and it was nice."
So now are you an Assistant Pro training to be a Head Pro?
"Yeah. I'm the Assistant Pro at Hanbury Manor. Hopefully one day I can get a Head Pro's job somewhere and see where it takes me really. My whole aim is to hopefully be one of the leading coaches in disability golf if it grows big enough and, as I say, get more people into it. Very much that is the aim but it might take me a few years to get there though!"
Related: Sunningdale New Course review
How did you enjoy playing in front of rather large crowds at the Sunningdale Foursomes?
"Yeah it's been really good. Foursomes is a strange format and I don't play it very often but it's good fun and it was quite nice because I was playing with my golf coach as well so it was nice playing with him. Even though he stuck me in some interesting positions today off the tee!
"I hit every single fairway for him and he still manages to stick me everywhere! It's been good. I really enjoyed it and just to play Sunningdale is epic."
Unfortunately you won't be playing the new course...
"I am a bit gutted to go out in the first round and miss out on playing the New tomorrow. Hopefully one day I'll be able to come back and go around the new . But it's nice to play the old place, the history about it, you know the people that have played here and obviously you've had the Senior Open up here as recent as 2015. It's been brilliant."
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Elliott Heath is our News Editor and has been with Golf Monthly since early 2016 after graduating with a degree in Sports Journalism. He manages the Golf Monthly news, features, courses and travel sections as well as our large Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages. He covered the 2022 Masters from Augusta National as well as four Open Championships on-site including the 150th at St Andrews. His first Open was in 2017 at Royal Birkdale, when he walked inside the ropes with Jordan Spieth during the Texan's memorable Claret Jug triumph. He has played 35 of our Top 100 golf courses, with his favourites being both Sunningdales, Woodhall Spa, Western Gailes, Old Head and Turnberry. He has been obsessed with the sport since the age of 8 and currently plays at West Byfleet Golf Club in Surrey, where his handicap index floats anywhere between 2-5. His golfing highlights are making albatross on the 9th hole on the Hotchkin Course at Woodhall Spa, shooting an under-par round, playing in the Aramco Team Series on the Ladies European Tour and making his one and only hole-in-one at the age of 15 - a long time ago now!
Elliott is currently playing:
Driver: Titleist TSR4
3 wood: Titleist TSi2 HL
Irons: Mizuno MP-H4 3-iron, Mizuno MP5 4-PW
Wedges: Cleveland RTX ZipCore 50, 54, 58
Putter: Odyssey White Hot OG #5
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