Rising Star

David Watts, from Durban, was born with a condition called fibular hemimelia where the calf bone in his left leg failed to develop. By the age of 16 he’d had three complex surgeries to lengthen his leg by a total of 23cm, which each needed a year or so of painful treatment and rehabilitation. He talks about the impact golf has had on his life.

When did you first start playing golf and what attracted you to the game?
I was introduced to the game when I was 10, my father would take me to lessons with Paul Potterton at Beachwood Country Club. As I was not allowed to play contact sport, golf became my “winter” sport during rugby season. One of the things I immediately loved about it was the individual aspect – you didn't need anyone else to be able to practise or play a game.

What impact has golf had on your life?
It's a hard question to answer. Obviously, golf is very close to my heart. I've played for a number of years. It's a great outlet for me. As a person with a disability, golf provided me with a platform where I felt like an equal. You're playing against yourself, you're playing against par, effectively. It was a great escape for a kid with physical hurdles and low self-esteem. Most of the personal relationships I have formed in my life were borne out of the game, just about everything in my life circles back to golf somehow. It is something I have put a lot into and sometimes it's hard, but it always gives back, if you stick with it. It's a huge part of my life, has been for a long time, and I'm sure it will be for the rest of my life.

What was it like to record your first G4D Tour win in Singapore?
It was a surreal experience, as one local golf publication so eloquently put it, ”it was a surprising win". There may be some truth in that, but I put in the work and the hours to get that result. I knew winning on the G4D Tour was within my potential. Playing on the G4D Tour is difficult, you fly in the day before your practice round, play two tournament rounds and then you are out of there. That is something I struggled with the most, often travelling over 20 hours to foreign conditions and having little to no time to adjust. I think one of the reasons I won, in Singapore, is that conditions were pretty similar to a standard Durban day in February. It was great to pick up the win there, but more importantly, I delivered a performance I know I am capable of under pressure. It is something I am proud of.


Watch the final-round highlights of David Watts’ first win on the G4D Tour.

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What steps do you have in place to continue to play well and climb further up the ranks?
Unfortunately the rankings are seriously flawed, after my win in Singapore in February I never received the correct number of points. This has since been rectified but it took three months to do so. In that time I struggled mentally, I was anxious and a bit desperate to try to climb the rankings so I played at some events I shouldn't have and it led to me slipping further down. Another serious issue I have is that there is no exemption for winners on the G4D Tour, so even though I won early in the season I didn't qualify to play the next three events. My next G4D Tour event is at the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai. It is an event I would really like to win and I know it's within my grasp.

What short-term goals have you set yourself?
My goal is to earn my right to play on the Sunshine Tour. It is something I am working hard to try to achieve. Earning Sunshine Tour playing privileges is what it’s all been about for me, gaining competitive experience and determining my potential in this great game. I know I am capable of doing that. Disability golf has given me the confidence to continue the pursuit of competitive golf. I hope to be able to give back to the cause and play my part in advocating for disability golfers in South Africa, and showing by example that it can be done.


David Watts’ last five performances on the G4D Tour


After joining the SADGA (the South African Disabled Golf Association) in 2022 and winning all five Opens he contested in that year, David Watts was named as a SADGA ambassador.

Alex Burstow/R&A/R&A via Getty Images/SADGA/DP WORLD TOUR