A seven-year-old is being hailed as the British Tiger Woods because of his amazing golf skills – despite being allergic to the SUN.
Cute Ben Brown is hot stuff on the fairways and greens – despite suffering from solar urticaria that only allows him to play for short periods of time in direct sunlight.
The rare condition means exposure to ultraviolet, UV radiation or sometimes even visible light can induce a case of rash or hives.
Ben’s condition is particularly bad at the first sign of sunlight in March and April and in the height of the summer.
Without medication he can only last ten minutes in direct sunlight and his parents say that even while taking his meds he struggles to last more than four hours playing golf.
But despite his allergy the skilled youngster got into the golfing swing when he began putting a ball across his living room at just two-years-old.
His parents, Craig, 31, and Kathryn, 27, bought Ben a “Gator Golf” set for his second birthday and noticed he had freak accuracy when putting.
Now the 4ft tall rising star is headed for the USA after already bagging a string of superb tournament showings.
Kathryn, of Stockton, Teeside, said: “Ben started with golf when he got a Gator Golf set for his second birthday and it became like an obsession for him.
“He would spend hours walking backwards and forwards across the living room collecting his ball.
“We actually had to buy three of the games so that he had one at ours and at each of his grandparents to save us taking it with us wherever we went.
“For his third birthday we got Ben a set of golf clubs and began taking him to the driving range.
“It was then that we actually realised that he was a good putter, when he was out on the putting green people would stop and watch, surprised at his talent.
“Several times people went to get other people to come outside and see how good he actually was.”
Ben played his first round over the nine-hole course at Stokesley, North Yorks., when he was four and started playing in their tournaments at aged six.
He took part in his first tournaments last year and is now on course to play at the World Championships at Pinehurst, USA.
But although Ben is just seven-years-old he has already had personal battles to fight after developing a sun allergy – called Solar Urticaria – which has left him needing medication to be outdoors in sunlight.
Ben was also born prematurely which has left him with a weak immune system that leaves him ill when he has been out in the cold.
Kathryn, who works handling complaints for Barclaycard with husband Craig, said: “Ben loves golf but it can be hard for him to play, he has a sun allergy which causes a full body rash with nausea and sickness.
“We have found a balance of two medications and a prescription suncream which does not take away the symptoms altogether but does alleviate them enough to allow him to play golf for short periods.
“Ben was born 8 weeks prematurely, weighing just 4lbs and had to spend many weeks in special care before coming home with us.
“As a result of his prematurity we have found Ben does have a weaker immune system than most. It is improving now, but he has had dozens of infections – chest, ear and tonsils – and also was hospitalised with pneumonia.
“We have to be careful with him over the winter when he picks up more illnesses, it can mean he is late to start his golfing season or can practice less than he would in the summer.”
The mum-of-one said that little Ben knows how to manage his allergy but often tries to continue playing golf even when he is not feeling one hundred per cent.
Kathryn said: “For Ben giving up golf is not an option, it is all he wants to do and instead we just have to take more care over where and what time he can play.
“It does impact him when he is playing at times, he can struggle to concentrate if he has broken out in hives as they can cause constant itching, but the worst problem for him is the migraines.”
Ben had a tremendous 2014, with highlights including finishing sixth in his age group in the Wee Wonders UK Championships at the famous Home of Golf, St Andrews, and coming second in the Tiger Club grand final at Gainsborough.
The seven-year-old has now qualified to play the US Kids Golf Junior European Championships in Scotland in May and for the US Kids Golf Junior World Championships in North Carolina at the end of July.
Kathryn added: “Ben’s favourite golfer is Tiger Woods, but his biggest inspiration is his golf coach Charlie Tetlow.
“When Ben was asked what he wanted to be when he grows up he told me he wanted to be Charlie, and that if he couldn’t be a professional golfer he wanted to teach children to play.”
Ben’s successes include:
– 1st place at Leeds Golf Centre to qualify for the Wee Wonders Grand Final at St Andrews.
– 6th place at Wee Wonders Grand Final (4th placed child from UK and Ireland) despite struggling badly with his sun allergy and losing 2 places over 3 holes in the final round
– 2nd place at the Tiger Club UK Final
– 1st and 2nd place in his last two 9 and under tournaments at Stokesley Golf Range
– 3rd place at Florida US Kids Golf Tournament (the winner was the current world champion)
The family are fundraising in an attempt to raise £5000 to send Ben to the World Championships. The fundraising page can be found here: http://www.gofundme.com/mozzxw
– Ben has a combination of sun related problems and a sun allergy which is called Solar Urticaria
– He suffers hives or a rash all over his body. This is particularly bad at the first sign of sunlight in March/April and in the height of the summer.
– Ben takes an antihistamine tablet daily to reduce the effects of his Solar Urticaria.
-In addition to this, he also suffers from solar migraines, these leave him with headaches, sickness and nausea and are more difficult to control than his hives.
-Ben can be perfectly fine but within minutes of the sun coming out he will start to feel ill, lose his strength and become lethargic.
-For his solar migraines Ben takes a secondary medication, a migraine tablet – due to his young age he has to take only half a tablet as they do not have tablets with a low enough dose for him.
– Ben also has to have a prescription suncream