Belfast Telegraph

UK Website Of The Year

Blind Carrick golfer Billy appeals for funds to help him become the World No 1

By Lesley Houston

Published 03/02/2016

Billy McAllister in action on the course
Billy McAllister in action on the course
Billy McAllister with fiancee Sandy Jackson

A blind golfer is trying to emulate the success of Northern Ireland's world beating champions - if he can just secure the funding to make his bid for the top in Japan later this year.

Success on the greens comes much easier for Rory McIlroy, Graham McDowell and Darren Clarke, but for Billy McAllister, who went blind in 2009, his World No 3 spot among blind golfers has been a hard-won battle of sheer grit and determination.

Now the self-funded former Carrickfergus golfer - No 1 in England and Wales - has the chance to match that with the World No 1 title if he can attract sponsors to help foot the £2,500 bill to allow him to compete in the Japan Blind Golf Open in November.

In fact, the 46-year-old is only a few shots off the top two players, Israeli Zohar Sharon and Italian Andrea Calcaterra, both of whom receive state sponsorship.

Billy, however, who now lives in the south of England, receives no regular funding. He has to campaign for finance for each and every event.

The golfer, who had a successful career in finance, woke up one day completely blind as a cruel consequence of diabetes.

He had never played golf, preferring to watch the sport from his armchair, but when blindness struck he was left without a path in life and even his marriage fell victim to his struggles with his new condition.

He found comfort mentoring young blind people through a charity but he holds little hope of ever finding paid employment.

"Only 1% of blind people are in work after going blind, that's according to the RNIB," Billy revealed.

Depression is common among people who have become blind during their lifetime, and he said he has known a number of people who have taken their own lives as a result.

One of the highest profile cases was former policeman David Rathband whose gunshot injuries at the hands of killer Raoul Moat in Northumbria in 2010 left him without sight.

Given the chance of a new life in the south of England, Billy took it and began acquiring a treasure trove of cups and titles.

"I wanted to start a new life, both after becoming blind, and after my divorce," he said.

Billy is now concentrating on Japan, practicing for all his worth at his nearby West Hove golf club.

He has until March 31 to apply for the tournament in Japan in 10 months' time or forfeit his chance. Anyone who can offer sponsorship for Billy should contact him on mcallister2612@gmail.com.

How does blind golf work?

Billy golfs with the help of a guide who gives him the yardage of the shot, points him in the right direction and places his club square behind the ball. After a discussion on the nature of the shot, the rest is up to him.

Belfast Telegraph

Read More

From Belfast Telegraph