Royal Lytham and St Annes golfer Ian Crowther knows what it’s like to be plunged into the depths of dismay after being cut down by a crippling ankle condition – but now the transformation in his golfing fortunes, and his health, could hardly be more complete.
Back in the dark days of January and February, he could barely walk; now he is walking tall after excelling in top-level seniors events, with the promise of more to come.
Such has been the scale of his recovery from undergoing an ankle replacement operation that he has broken through to the full England seniors team and has a bronze medal to show for it after the European Championships in Slovenia.
The 56-year-old Crowther now has the seniors home international championships to look forward to next week, as well as the national seniors county championship in October.
Crowther was part of the Red Rose team that won the northern championships at Morecambe to qualify with his team-mates for the finals to be held at Chipping Sodbury.
It is quite a transformation for Crowther. Or as he put it: “I was in a dark place, but now you could say the sun is shining brightly for me!”
Indeed, at one point it did occur to Crowther that his golfing days could be over when he was wracked by excruciating pain in his ankle.
He said: “I was suffering from arthritis in the ankle, probably as a result of me playing a lot of football and squash over the years.
“So I had an ankle replacement operation at Wrightington Hospital.
“It is quite a rare operation and they only do a few thousand of them a year in the whole country.
“I had the operation in November and I still had a boot on my foot in January and February, and I can’t really believe how well I have done on the golf course since then.
“It has come along well, but I have permission to use a buggy to get round the course part of the time, if I need it.”
The operation has certainly not harmed his golf; he has had a new lease of life.
And the England call-up to play in Slovenia came as a pleasant surprise and culminated in him and his team-mates securing a bronze medal.
Crowther enjoyed every minute of being involved in international team golf. “It felt like I was playing in the Ryder Cup!” he exclaimed.
There is no let-up in Crowther’s busy schedule.
He will soon be packing his clubs and taking them to Wales for the 2016 seniors home internationals, which take place at Machynys from September 20 to 22.
The ankle could well have a rigorous test for depending on selection he could end up playing 36 holes per day.
After that it is the Senior Men’s County Team Championship in Chipping Sodbury with Lancashire vying for honours against the top counties from the Midlands, South East and South West.
In the northern qualiifer at Morecambe, Lancashire won with a total of 713 points, 10 clear of Yorkshire (723).
nSteve Parry ended a long wait to win the James Brearley Lancashire Open Championship, prevailing after a play-off at Blackpool North Shore.
After 36 holes there was nothing to split Parry (North West Golf Academy/Hart Common) and Michael Ramsden (Renishaw Park Golf).
They were tied at the top of the leaderboard on 135 after both players had been in blistering from in the second and concluding round.
Parry shot a seven under par 64, while Ramsden was only one shot worse off.
So the pair had to play off on the par five 10th and Parry won thanks to a birdie.
Parry claimed the £1,500 first prize and Ramsden a cheque for £1,000. Parry said: “I have been waiting 17 years for this.”
Joint overnight leader Phil Kelly, of St Annes, added a second round 69 to an opening 67 to be third outright.
Defending champion David Corsby (Fleetwood) slipped to joint-17th.