13 Oct 2022 | Amateur golf |

From Bali bombing survivor to world class golfer

by Golf Australia

Ben Tullipan golfing
Photography credit: Scott Campbell Photography

After walking into a shop looking for water, Ben Tullipan’s life changed drastically.

Tullipan immediately became a victim of the 2002 Bali bombings and he suffered the the most horrific injuries of any survivor of that day.

Ben Tullipan said death looked likely and he was the first Australian to be airlifted home from Indonesia.

“I lost both my legs and parts of my stomach and broke most of the bones in my body,” Tullipan said. 

Given only a 5% chance of survival, Tullipan’s life has been nothing short of a miracle. Not only has he re-learned to walk, but he is also now a doting dad of two and is a world-ranked all-abilities golfer. 

“I had plenty of skin grafts which they took from my waist, so I have low mobility and stretch in my hips,” Tullipan said.

“The doctors told me I would never walk again and I told them to give me a set of legs and let me try.” 

Tullipan, previously an avid boxer had never picked up a golf club, turned to golf for his rehabilitation after seeing an ad for an all-abilities tournament. 

“I saw an ad for an all-abilities golf tournament and my wife encouraged me to sign up. I thought I would probably just fall over when I swing the club, but I gave it a go anyway,” Tullipan said.

“I turned up with some gear and met some cool people. At the first hole I was shaking, I was thinking what have signed up for? My first shot worked, but the rest of the game didn’t go so well, I came dead last, but it was just great to get out.”

Tullipan has taken the golf world by storm and was recently one of only four competitors invited to play The New Zealand Open Golf Tournament. 

“I am so thankful for the opportunity that I have to get out and play. I now cannot get enough of golf. I have been lucky enough to play all around the world and win plenty of competitions in my division,” Tullipan said.

“We've got no limitations, if you believe in yourself, you can achieve anything.”

Golf is not just another sport it has so many additional benefits for those who go out and play. 

“Golf isn’t just a sport for me, it has given me the avenue to meet others that are in similar situations. I didn’t know much about being an amputee, how anything worked, how to even tie my shoelace. Playing in all abilities tournaments has given me the chance to meet other amputees who have taught me so much about both the sport but also my day-to-day life,” Tullipan said.

“Golf has not only given me lifelong friends, but the sport has also helped me physically. Learning how to hold my core properly when I swing has helped me to rebuild my core strength and also improved my mental strength.”

Through hard work and sheer determination, Tullipan is able to share the game he loves with those around him. His achievements are awe-inspiring and endless and proof that golf is a sport that can be played by anyone, no matter the ability. 

“Life is not over when you receive an amputation, life is about living and not wasting time wallowing in self-pity. It is about building your self-esteem and sense of worth, developing new skills and building new friendships,” Tullipan said. 

“People with disabilities can get stuck at home, the Empower Golf clinics give the people the opportunity to get out of the house, build a community and feel included in something fun. 

“There is plenty of adaptive equipment like grip gloves and a para golfer, which gives you the ability to stand while you play.

“The hardest part is to get out and go to a clinic. We have plenty of people that just come and watch for a while, but once they try golf they fall in love.” 

Golf Australia’s Senior Manager Programs and Inclusion Christian Hamilton said Ben's story is a clear example that anyone can out and play the game no matter their ability. 

We encourage people to living with disability to give golf a try by connecting with a PGA All Abilities Coach or through one of 100's of MyGolf & Get Into Golf programs being delivered across the country" Hamilton said.

“No matter what your level of golf there is always an opportunity to learn and grow your golf skills, you just need to give it a go.”

For more information of All Abilities golf visit www.golf.org.au/allabilities.

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