Tony Brouder claimed his fourth club golf title at the weekend.
Not bad considering he’s paralysed from the waist down.
After being stricken by paralysis in 2008 and confined to a wheelchair, Tony, aged 45, was forced to give up his job as a construction foreman and alter his entire life.
His cousin Eddie Brouder, a golfer, called to see him most evenings and they’d watch whatever golf tournament was on television. Tony became more and more interested in a game he’d never played.
“I used to keep saying to myself ‘what I’d give to play a game of golf’ but felt it could never be. Until one night when I was watching the golf with Eddie I just googled ‘disabled golf’. This produced a picture of Paragolfer with other golf gear for paraplegics. We then went to a special trade fair in Birmingham in May last year and I came across the Paragolfer,” he said.
The Paragolfer is a type of wheelchair. At the push of a button, it can hoist the person up, keep them in an upright position so they can play a shot before lowering them.
“I ordered it from the company in Germany and once it arrived I was off on the golf course with a spare bag of clubs Eddie gave me,” said Tony.
Initially, the competitions committee in Newcastle West allowed him play from the ladies’ tees and gave him a maximum handicap of 36.
However, Tony turned out to be a natural and quickly moved back to the men’s tees, had his handicap cut, and now plays off 30.
He plays a regular fourball with Eddie Brouder, Mike Leahy, and Danny O’Shea and his most recent success came in a club twosome on Sunday with Mike Leahy. They had 48 points, better ball over 18 holes.
And like a lot of keen golfers, Tony has little patience with slow golfers.
“I get around fairly quickly. Our last Sunday fourball took around three hours 50 minutes and that included being held up on the tee at two par 3s,” he said.
Other courses played by Tony to date include Charleville, Shannon, Ballykisteen, Castleisland, Charleville, and Adare Manor.
He faces his biggest challenge this Sunday when he tackles the Old Course in Ballybunion.
Tony said: “It’s an exchange day with Newcastle West and I am off at 10.45am with Mike, Eddie and Danny. It will be a tricky negotiation of the dunes and I will have to ensure I keep clear of the bunkers, which are very deep I’m told. To think that I will be playing one of the great courses of the world is unbelievable. My only fear is that I will be cut [handicap] again.”
Tony has another big golf assignment coming up when he travels to the Disabled British Open at East Sussex Golf Resort and Spa in August.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved