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Blind-Golfer’s Autobiography!

The Blind Golfers Autobiography - From The Carry Row to Tokyo

From The Carry Row to Tokyo

The Blind golfer from Ballymena opens up about his hardships and triumphs ahead of book launch  He was ranked 12th in the world blind golf ratings

original article from belfastlive.co.uk  by  Christine Carrigan

Drew with one of his many trophies won over the years


After going blind at the age of 39 and spiralling into depression, a Ballymena man thought his life was over until he found blind golfing.

Now 78, Drew Cochrane is set to release his autobiography detailing his diagnosis, the subsequent depression, and most importantly, how his sight loss opened up a world of opportunities.

And he is very excited to inform others about the sport. “I wanted to show people that there is life after blindness, a great life. Blind golf saved my life.” Drew said. “I would love to see more people playing blind golf. There are people who could play and want to play, but they don’t play.”

“It’s all there for the taking. I took to it like a duck to water but not everyone is the same. Some people are apprehensive. In the beginning, I was a bit embarrassed at the thought that people would watch me with my guide on the green, but after a while, you get used to it. The benefits of it are amazing.”

One of six siblings, the golfer was diagnosed with Leber’s Optic Atrophy – an inherited eye condition. The condition passed on through his mother also effected Drew’s brother Ian, who passed away in 2004.

Drew spent five weeks at the Royal Victoria Hospital in 1980 before he was told the devastating news that he would lose his sight. The former construction worker spoke of how he “didn’t take the news well” despite wife Dympna’s best efforts. He added: “I was very depressed. Within a few short months my vision was gone. Dympna looked after me as best she could but I was in a very bad place.

“My life had fallen apart. It was gone, I couldn’t drive.

“I was in the building trade. I remember I was working on the mixer one day, because I wasn’t able to do anything else, and I couldn’t stop the tears. I asked myself, ‘what has this come to?’ The tears just wouldn’t stop.” Despite trying to maintain his job for months, Drew had no choice but to stop working and start claiming benefits. Then his troubles worsened because now he had to deal with financial hardship as well.

Drew recalled: “I had to sign on and went from previously earning good money to surviving on the bare minimum. I was in the depths of depression. I remember going to my garage and crying and was suicidal at one stage. I even had a plan to do it but thankfully it never came to it.”

Drew was a keen golf player before losing his sight and it took 10 years for him to pick up a club again. Thankfully a friend introduced him to blind golf and now he plays in tournaments around the world. And he has earned several high-profile titles along the way.

As well as winning the Order of Merit in the Garvin Classic tournament and earning a place in the Australian Western Open where he ranked in seventh place – Drew was also ranked 12th in blind golf worldwide.

‘From The Carry Row to Tokyo’ book cover
Known affectionately as the “Blind-Golfer” Drew never imagined his story would interest anyone until friend Una Mulgrew, encouraged him to pen his memoirs.

With help from Brid McKernon from Multi-Media Heritage, the three compiled his autobiography ‘ From The Carry Row to Tokyo’. Excited about the upcoming launch Drew said: “I am so happy to have it in my hands.

“Ian gave me strength after I became blind. We were great buddies and he was a great help to me. He would be very proud of what I’m doing today. This book is a tribute to my three brothers and my sister.”

‘ From The Carry Row to Tokyo’ will launch on March 25 at The Braid, Ballymena Town Hall, Museum and Arts Centre.


Golf gave me a reason to live after losing my sight overnight

Billy McAllister Golf gave me a reason to live after losing my sight overnight

Billy McAllister lines up a shot with his guide

Original article by steve Hollis for the Argus

Billy McAllister admits he probably wouldn’t be around today if it hadn’t been for golf.

McAllister’s world fell apart in 2009 when he woke up one morning completely blind.

Within months he had lost his job, seen his marriage fall apart and was so depressed that he felt there was no reason to continue living.

Taking up golf dragged him out of his pit of despair and seven years on the 47-year-old from Brighton is one of the best blind golfers on the planet.

McAllister has won every domestic trophy there is and recently finished third at the World Championships in Japan.

“I went to bed and everything was fine. I got up the next morning to go to work and both retinas had come off in my sleep.

“I got divorced and lost my job. I wasn’t in a good place. I had to fight on my own two feet and I was going under to be honest.

 “I wouldn’t say I am a quitter but I was on the verge of quitting. I recognised that and thought I had to do something otherwise there wasn’t much more I could take.

“I wanted to get into a sport but my choice was quite limited. I thought golf couldn’t be that difficult as the ball doesn’t move but I was very wrong as it’s the most technical sport to play.

McAllister had previously competed at a semi-pro level at snooker but had never picked up a golf club in his life before losing his sight as a result of diabetes.

His early attempts did not offer much hope but he refused to throw the towel in and has risen from 91st to fifth in the world rankings over the last five years.

He is the first person to ever win the British Order of Merit two years in a row (2015 and 2016) and headed to Japan with high hopes of becoming world champion only to be let down by a poor opening round.

McAllister was playing catch-up after carding a 120 at Shinrin-Koen before recovering to shoot a 105 in the second round to finish behind world No.1 Zohar Sharon of Israel and Andrea Calcaterra of Italy in the totally blind category.

“When I first started I used to miss the ball completely,” added McAllister who is coached by Ryan Fenwick at West Hove. “I was shooting scores in excess of 160. I was awful.

“I finished dead last in every event I played in for the first year and a half. It took me two and a half years to win my first event. Now I’ve won all the major trophies in this country and played in the blind Ryder Cup.

“When I was coming last in every event I vowed that one day I would be world champion. That is why I was slightly disappointed to come third but the next one is in Italy in 2018 and it is my goal to win there.”

Life has improved for McAllister off the golf course as well having slowly rebuilt his life since that fateful night seven years ago.

“My depression is better and a lot of that is thanks to golf – but now I am obsessed with golf!” he said. “I’m up at 8am and am on my own in the house in darkness for seven or eight hours so it is good to get out on the golf course and stimulate my mind.

“I’ve remarried this year and my new wife Sandy is going to start being my guide which is great.

“I’ve been to America, Milan and Japan to play golf which is more travelling than I would have done if I had a normal life. I’m off to Canada to play in the Ryder Cup in July and then going to Australia to defend the Australian Open title I won last year.”

Website: http://blindgolfmcallister.weebly.com/