Liverpool FC and Leeds United legend Gary McAllister will be the star attraction when the penultimate event in the Swing Against Cancer Golf Series, the DSA Open, gets underway on the Majlis course at Emirates Golf Club on September 14th.

The charity series, organised by Worldwide Golf and Sixteen10, which is raising money for Friends of Cancer Patients and Pink Caravan, has been gaining momentum since launching in April with each event raising the bar and the region’s golfers and business community supporting in increasing numbers to help fight back against one of the world’s deadliest diseases.

As well as offering the final opportunity for local amateurs and pros to qualify for the Grand Final, the star-studded Mike Clark Golf Day which takes place at Jumeirah Golf Estates on October 26th, the DSA Open at Emirates Golf Club on September 14th promises to be an unforgettable day of golf, fun and football chat.

McAllister, who carved a reputation as one of the finest midfielders in the game and enjoyed spells at Motherwell, Leicester and Coventry as well as Leeds and Liverpool has a very personal reason for wanting to support the Swing Against Cancer Golf Series.

“My wife Denise had breast cancer which she sadly passed away from in 2006 so it’s a cause very close to my heart,” he says. “It was a really tough time in my life and whenever there is an opportunity to raise some money and awareness for cancer charities I always try to support.

“My manager Simon Hurd is an old friend of Steve Kelshaw, the managing director of DSA Architects who are the title sponsor of the event, who I’ve got to know myself and when I heard about the DSA Open, I wanted to get involved.”

The Scotsman was known as one of the game’s classiest midfielders in a glorious career spanning over 23 years. But golf was actually his first love, and at one stage it looked like he might make a career out of the game.

“My wife Denise had breast cancer which she sadly passed away from in 2006 so it’s a cause very close to my heart.”

SCOTTISH BOYS

“I started playing golf even before I started playing football,” he says. “All my family played golf and were members at the local club, Bellshill, just outside Motherwell in Scotland. I practiced all the time – used to hit 300-400 balls every day on the range and got down to a decent handicap fairly early on as a youngster playing off 1 at age 12 or 13.

“I was beaten in a play-off for the Scottish Boys title which was a bit of a blow and I was a reserve cap for the Scotland Boys Golf Team but over the years football became my real passion.

“The thing that really hit it home for me was when I went and played in the British Boys. I was pretty good in my own little area of Lanarkshire in Scotland but once I went out further afield, I saw how good some of the other boys were.

“Jose Maria Olazabal and another Spanish player called Jesus Lopez played in the event and they were just on another level completely. I think I made the right decision to concentrate more on football but I’m still a frustrated golfer.”

While Olazabal went on to win two Masters Tournament titles and forged a fine reputation as a Ryder Cup player and Captain, McAllister scooped more than his fair share of silverware in football.

He was part of the same Leeds United team as Eric Cantona that won the old English First Division title in 1991 and played a key role in Gerard Houlier Liverpool side of 2000-2001 that scooped five trophies – the FA Cup, League Cup, UEFA Cup, UEFA Super Cup and Charity Shield. But it is the accomplishment in leading his country as Captain that stands out as the highlight of his glittering career.

“There were a lot of great moments but I would say that becoming captain of Scotland was the most special moment, because that’s something that your friends back home can be proud of as well. Getting my first cap was also a proud moment – I always say that representing your country is the pinnacle of any player’s career.”

Now that he’s hung up his boots, McAllister, a member at Moortown Golf Club in Leeds playing off the none-too-shabby handicap of five, is able to spend a little more time playing golf and he’s relishing a return to Dubai where he believes some of the finest courses in the world, outside of his beloved home country, can be found.

“As a Scotsman, I’m obviously biased in thinking the best courses in the world are in Scotland, but as a golf destination, I think Dubai is second to none,” he says. “The quality of the courses, especially when you consider the dry hot weather, and the investment in the game over there is phenomenal. I’ve played pretty much all of the courses and they’re all fantastic, the clubhouses are all pretty spectacular as well.

ICONIC COURSE

“The Majlis is a brilliant course and is very iconic with its history of hosting the Dubai Desert Classic. When you play a course like that you tend to recognise a lot of the holes from the TV and some of the great shots you’ve seen over the years.  I always find it interesting to look at some of the lines you’ve seen the pros take on certain holes and wonder how on earth they manage to get the ball to land where they did!

“The 18th is a wonderful hole and we’ve seen many great players hit amazing shots to win the tournament there, and a few fall victim to it too, so it will be a lot of fun playing the course in the DSA Open.”

As well as playing a hole with each and every group that tees it up in the DSA Open, Gary will also be getting involved in an entertaining footgolf challenge out on course before sharing more stories from his football days in a Q&A session in the evening, which will also feature a sumptuous BBQ, free-flowing drinks, raffle, auction and other fun games such as giant inflatable darts-golf and table football. “The body is not as willing as it used to be but it can still manage to kick a ball around. I’ve played footgolf and it’s good fun so I’m looking forward to that. There’s a footgolf course near to where I live so better get some practice in.”

“I was very fortunate to play with some great players over the years and enjoyed some fantastic moments during my playing days,” continues McAllister who is urging any fans of his former clubs to come along for the evening event. “It’ll be a very relaxed evening and people are welcome to ask me any questions they like.”

Steve Kelshaw, Managing Director of title sponsors, DSA Architect is over the moon that the Liverpool FC ambassador is giving up his time to fly to Dubai for the event

“Gary’s a great guy, he’s obviously a legend in football terms but as all footballers do, he loves his golf,” says Kelshaw. “I was fortunate enough to meet him through golf and the poignant thing is that tragically he lost his wife to cancer at a young age which has touched Gary in ways I can’t imagine. When we asked him to come to support the Swing Against Cancer Golf Series, he was there in a heartbeat, which is testament to the guy he is. We’re absolutely thrilled and delighted that he’ll be joining us.

“He’s a very personable guy and he’ll interact a lot with the players on the day before sharing some fascinating stories of his days playing for Leeds United – hopefully not so much Liverpool as I’m a Leeds fan!”

As well as DSA Architects, the DSA Open and the Swing Against Cancer Golf Series, has attracted phenomenal support from the local business community with DHL, Multiplex, Mediclinic, PING, Titleist, Pro-Sports International, Anantara, Al Tayer Stocks, Hertz, Al Futtaim Automall, WATG, WME Consultants, Afridi & Angell, Cox Gomyl, Prosperity, Clarke Samadhin, Nikki Beach Resort, Fairmont The Palm, Movenpick, ASG Engineering Consultants, Trump International Golf Club, Atlantis The Palm and Seawings all signing up as sponsors.

The winning pro and amateur from the DSA Open will gain a spot in the Mike Clark Golf Day at Jumeirah Golf Estates on October 26th, where they will play alongside the likes of former England rugby captain Mike Tindall and 2005 US Open champion Michael Campbell. The winning amateur of the Swing Against Cancer Golf Series Grand Final will gain a spot in the DP World Tour Championship Pro-Am, hospitality and players’ party tickets to the European Tour’s season-ending tournament, a two-night stay at Atlantis The Palm and a golf lesson with coach to the stars, Pete Cowen.

“I’m really looking forward to the event,” says McAllister, “it should be a lot of fun and we’ll all have a good laugh while raising money for a great cause so come along and join me at Emirates Golf Club on September 14th!”

All day golf and evening tickets for the DSA Open are available for AED 795 (AED 745 EGF members). Emirates Golf Club members and pros: AED 345. Price includes evening BBQ, free flow drinks, prizes and Q&A.

Evening only tickets: AED 350 inclusive of BBQ, Q&A and free flow drinks. 

To book please email: [email protected]

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