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Paul Appleyard, Triple World Blind Golf Champion: “I needed to know how far I could go”

25 febrero, 2017 | Redaccion
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If you visited San Roque Club in 2016 you will probably have seen one of our regulars here going through his intensive practice schedule. Paul Appleyard used the facilities at SRC to prepare for the defence of his World Champion title.

If you have visited San Roque Club in the last 6 months you will probably have seen one of our regulars here going through his intensive practice schedule. Paul Appleyard has been using the facilities at SRC to prepare for the defence of his World Champion title.

SRC management are proud to announce that all the effort paid off as Paul travelled in November 2016  to our owner’s homeland, Japan and successfully retained his World Blind Golf Champion title.

When Paul returned he met with San Roque captain David Campbell  for a chat about the whole experience

DC: «First of all Paul, many congratulations on the huge achievement, I for one would love to know more about the journey, I’m sure others would too»

«I will start by asking you why Golf, with a visual impairment?

PA: «I enjoy sport and I  played soccer at school and  competitive basketball at local level in my teens when my vision was slightly better .But golf started socially with two friends and at the time was purely recreational.  I started blind golf though for specific reasons.»

DC: «Why did you get involved with blind golf?»

PA: «I enjoy competing in regular golf events but I had an urge to find out how good I could get on the blind golf scene, to see how far I could go.»

DC: «Anything else?»

PA: «Honestly, yes. I wanted to prove a point. The consultant who diagnosed me 37 years ago with Stargardt’s disease said to my parents that they should take me home and let me get on with my life but don’t expect me to achieve anything!»

DC: “This is your second title so wasn’t last time proving a point?»

PA: “Sure, that time in Australia was the ‘letting go’ of the frustration and anger for me, as becoming world champ was a massive point to make.This time,it was for me.»

DC: «What was it about your golf that was so good in Japan in order for you to win? Did you shoot a really low score?»

PA «I have shot 75 a couple of times but that is a rarity and certainly was not the case there, I shot 81 on the final day and I class that as my best round ever.”

DC: «So before I go on, what makes that round the best Paul?»

PA: “It was totally and utterly in control, all the way around which is somewhat unlike me hey!? Every shot was calculated and executed as I wanted. OK I dropped 9 shots but that’s just golf, things happen, but it was not due to being silly or trying things that were not on.!»

DC: «How does blind golf work, is it significantly different to regular golf?»

PA: » It’s no different to regular golf, other than we can ground our club in a hazard just to know where the surface is but not to test it, plus we  have a guide who can do anything for us other than hit the shot, no other differences at all.»

DC: «What do you personally use a guide for?»

PA: «Everyone has one and they are like a caddy but more, I only need lining up by my guide and not much more. At SRC I can play without a guide as I know the course very well, I do need a bit of help from time to time from  playing partners but not much other than to watch where my ball goes»

DC: «How much can you see?»

PA: “Less than most believe!»

DC: «What do you mean?»

PA: «I’ve been this way for almost 4 decades and my coping mechanisms are pretty honed in now, so I do manage to do most things I want to do. I have 5% central vision and then  peripheral vision which is blurred «

DC: «So pretty much nothing in the middle?»

PA:  «Sort of. The whole central bit is a spinning fuzzy blob which can be a bit distracting at times, but the result is I can’t see through it!»

DC: «Will it get worse?

PA: «Could do but I am unlikely to go totally blind with it. I am finding more and more that I can’t recognize people even walking past them which causes me embarrassment.»

DC: «How can people find out more about your golf journey this time, becoming world champ again?»

PA: «Best way is to take a look at the Facebook page Team Blind Apple, Road to Japan.»

DC: “Excellent, let’s find out a bit more about you, rapid fire questions like you see on TV. Biggest influence in golf?»

PA: «My coach Thomas Johansson.»

DC: «Favorite pro player?»

PA: «Easy, Lee Westwood, has been for a long time.»

DC: «How many times a week do you play or practice?»

PA: «While in training, play at least twice and practice 3 to 4 days on top.»

DC: «What clubs do you use?»

PA: «KZG irons, M2 Taylormade driver,R9 3 wood,  2 Adams utilities and 4 Vokey wedges..»

DC: «Favourite bat?»

PA: «Putter.»

DC: «Least favourite?»

PA: «Up until the WCs, my driver. But it worked a treat in Japan»

DC: «Best part of your game?»

PA: «Easy, putting.»

DC: «Favourite distance for a golf shot?»

PA: «Shorter the better, I like anything at all within 100m.»

DC: «Other than SRC, of course, which is your favourite place you have played in Europe?”

PA: «Monte Rei in Portugal, great Jack Nicklaus course.»

DC: «Favourite course outside Europe?»

PA: «Has to be Shinrin Koen, Tokyo, where I just played.»

DC: «Give me a wish list, top 3 courses you’d like to play?»

PA: «2 might be obvious, Old course at St Andrews, Augusta and finally , Loch Lomond.»

DC: «Favourite golf ball?»

PA: «One that does as it is told.»

DC: «Worst score on 1 hole of golf?»

PA: «Do not laugh, it’s a 13 on a par 3, a bit like a ‘tin cup’ moment, I kept sticking it in the water!»

DC: «Any holes in 1?»

PA: «Yes, 2, both at San Roque.»

DC: «That’s not fair, I’ve had none…»

«What work do you do?»

PA: «I have a small company called ‘Don’t Wait For Luck’ and I do motivational speaking and coaching people on how to set and achieve big golfing related goals, winning 2 world championships shows the formula works so I’m up for sharing it. paul@dontwaitforluck.com if you would like to know more…»

DC: «OK, you can have that quick plug. Next, which person or figure, alive or not, would you like to play golf with?”

PA: “I’d like to be able to play with my dad 1 more time, I wasn’t very good at all when he was alive so it would be great to show him how things have changed.  I’d love to play with Buddha, or Yoda, or some other wise geezer even if it did take us 4 days philosophizing instead of 4 hours and coming back down to reality, I’d like a round with Lee Westwood.»

DC: «What next for your golf?

PA: «Even though I decided before he did, Nico Rosberg stole the limelight by announcing his retirement at the top.»

DC: «What, no more golf?»

PA: «For certain, no more blind golf. I’m not stopping playing regular golf though, no way.»

DC: «Pleased to hear it.  So what is your next golfing goal?»

PA: «I want my handicap back down below 8»

DC: «Do you have any big non golfing goals?»

PA: «Building my business and I am looking for a visually impaired youngster to mentor.»

DC: «Fascinating,, I have enjoyed getting to know more,  keep swinging well!»

San Roque management supported Paul by providing his competition shirts as well as total freedom to use the extensive practice facilities here. Mr Takahashi, General Manager at San Roque, said of Paul’s achievements “We are very proud of Paul who have demonstrated to be not only the World Blind Golf Champion for the 3rd time but also an exceptional person who loves this club. We congratulate him for his success and no doubt we will keep supporting him”

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