DARLINGTON’S former world champion Darren Grey has hit another first in becoming the only one-armed golfer to become a PGA professional.

Grey’s incredible sorting journey is set to continue and he has not given up on his dreams of one day appearing in an Open Championship with his disability too.

Even though the 34-year-old was born without the lower half of his left arm, that has never stopped him from setting incredible targets since first starting to swing a club aged eight when his dad handed him a cut-down club.

After joining Darlington Golf Club in 1999, hitting his first hole-in-one soon after, Grey went on to represent Europe against the USA in one-armed golf’s Ryder Cup-style Fightmaster Cup on four separate occasions, losing just two of his 20 matches.

His biggest achievement was becoming the World One-Armed Golf Champion in 2010 - and followed that up by winning the English and Welsh One-Armed title three years later.

Six years on from those heroics and Grey – despite being knocked back because of his handicap a couple of years ago – has now relinquished his amateur status and is the first in the UK to be a PGA assistant professional and is based at Ingleby Barwick Golf Academy with Craig Donaldson.

“From being young I always wanted to become a professional golfer, so I’d say more of a personal goal I’ve had all my life,” said Grey. “Being a professional means competing at a level that is always testing my game to the highest ability but also giving me opportunities to promote disabled golf in a way some only dream about.

“I will be studying my FdSc in professional golf studies over three years. I hope to play a little bit but want to focus on the ability to teach rather than play, I will compete on North-East North-West PGA but if I ever get to qualify for the Open or an event like it then you can be sure I’d jump at the chance.

“I’ve been a bit quiet on the golfing front over the last few years. I’ve been trying new techniques and changing my swing, but I have also had two more boys so my time has been taken up with family.

“I have played a little but had been concentrating on club golf so I could turn professional to keep my handicap low enough (he has gone from seven down to scratch in two years).”

Teaching the game has always been something that has interested Grey too. Alongside Donaldson, Grey hopes to excel and he is looking for help too from more sponsors to keep him on the right track.

“I hope to have my own academy one day and develop more inclusive golf in the North-East,” said Grey. “Craig is a great person to work under and shows great enthusiasm to help me develop so I’m hoping to show what I’m capable of a bit more.

“Turning pro means I can only play for gross but that’s all I play for anyway so it’s a win-win in my opinion. Turning professional allows me to advertise sponsorship better and I have now gained a sponsorship with Golfing Herald, who I thank and am grateful for their support. I also thank my family, friends, Darlington Golf Club, Harrowgate Hill Club and other golf clubs around the area that have helped me as an amateur.

“I will always be proud to be a world champion though. I will still compete in the championship as I still can, as well as play on the European Disabled Tour. It’s exciting.”

Grey, who still lives in Darlington, still has space on his clothing for more sponsorship should anyone be interested. As assistant pro he will become a fully-fledged PGA professional after three years. Contact him on Twitter or at Ingleby Barwick Golf Academy.