Louise Hazel meets inspirational blind golfer Nathan Hill

By Louise HazelLondon 2012 Heptathlete
16-year-old blind golfer inspires Louise Hazel

"In the hole, man!" bellowed a voice behind me, loud enough to distract us from filming a feature for BBC Sport at the Ladies' European Masters at Buckinghamshire Golf Club.

I turned around to see a jubilant teenager celebrating while having a putting class with his coach. That teenager was the incredible Nathan Hill.

I knew instantly there was something extra special about this charismatic, entertaining and loud lad from the West Midlands. So much so, we stopped filming for a few minutes just to watch him putt ball after ball.

It wasn't just his great putting, or his occasional outburst of song that kept us watching, it was the fact that the young man achieving this feat was completely blind.

With the support of his coach Craig Thomas and a wooden putting guide, 16-year-old Nathan was showing exactly how inspiring some young people can be. But it wasn't until I got chatting to Nathan, Craig and granddad John Sanders, that I really got to understand what a true inspiration he is.

"He was prematurely born, weighing just one pound," Sanders told me. "His mother was a diabetic and died when he was only two, so he came to live with his nana and me. But unfortunately his nana died in 2006, so it has just left me and him."

I could see in John's eyes, as he watched his young grandson dominate with the putter, that he was immensely proud of what he had become.

"He used to be so withdrawn," Sanders explained. "He didn't want to mix with people but after this he has made friends and we can't stop him talking now."

Another shout comes from Nathan, who yells: "I'm the man!"

Before I could introduce myself, Nathan lined up his next ball, looked right at me and said: "This one's for you, Louise." Already I felt like we had a great rapport - he oozed personality and had a great sense of humour.

Chatting with Nathan, it was heart-warming to see how close he is to his coach. "I've always enjoyed myself when it comes to golf," Nathan began, "I love it, I do, and that's all thanks to Craig.

"I played up in Droitwich the other day. I was all right but I could have done with Craig there to support me - I don't know what I'd do without my man."

Although Nathan's tone could easily have been interpreted as joking around or sarcasm, I knew he really meant it. In my career I've seen people have varying relationships with their coach but this was clearly one of great respect.

Heptathlete Louise Hazel meets up with the stars of women's golf and young girls aspiring to follow their footsteps at the Ladies European Tour event at Buckinghamshire Golf Club.

Craig, who coaches for PGA academies, has been working with Nathan for just over two years and has seen the improvements in his game and his self-esteem. "He's a pretty inspirational lad," Craig told me.

"Nathan is not only blind but he's also autistic, so there were other challenges we had to face.

"He was quite a quiet and apprehensive lad, who didn't leave the house, so to see him in these environments is fabulous and he is a joy to be around."

"A joy to be around." I couldn't have put it better myself. I came away from meeting Nathan with a smile on my face from seeing that someone could be so happy largely through playing sport.

However, the Nathan of two years ago wouldn't have been the same, which made me realise there are probably some people out there who have yet to find their outlet, their opportunity to feel happier and feel better.

That's where 'Get Inspired' comes in. If you are like Nathan and have had some hard times in your life, you could find a sport that could change your life. It might be one of the best things you ever do.

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