Harriet Shephard caught up with LET Access Series golfer Hannah McCook to find out how she manages her diabetes on Tour and why she wants to raise awareness of the condition.

Scotland's Hannah McCook has got her career as a professional golfer off to a promising start.

Part way through her rookie year on the LET Access Series, she recently finished T2 on the Tartan Pro Tour event at Montrose Golf Links.

In fact, it was only Tour founder Paul Lawrie who beat Hannah to the top spot and prevented either her of fellow Scot Michele Thomson from becoming the first female winner on the Scottish-based tour.

Of course every professional golfer has to work extremely hard to succeed, but the 25-year-old also has an extra complication to factor in.

Hannah was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at just eight years old, but she clearly hasn't yet let the autoimmune condition hold her back from pursuing the career of her dreams.

An invisible condition

With World Diabetes Day is coming up on Saturday November 14 and with the condition now affecting 3.9 million people in the UK, I was interested to find out how Hannah manages her condition whilst maintaining such an active and high-pressure job.

Heavily involved with supporting charity Diabetes UK, Hannah tells me that she's always tried to do what she can to raise awareness of the condition.

"Growing up I was inspired by the achievements of 5-time Olympic Gold Medalist and diabetic, Sir Steve Redgrave. So I would love to think that I can inspire any kids that have just been diagnosed, or any diabetics in general."

Of course, knowing that Hannah regularly competes alongside some the best golfers in the world, such as major-winners like Paul Lawrie, you'd never guess that she had a condition to worry about.

"It's an invisible condition, people can't actually see that diabetics are diabetic, unless my insulin pump is visible or I am vocal about it nobody would ever know. But I think it's important for people to realise and understand what goes along with being diabetic. There are many myths and misconceptions with the condition, but with the right awareness and knowledge many more people will understand it. That people will realise that it won't hold anyone back from following and achieving their dreams." 

Refusing to be held back

That said, the Stirling University graduate, still has to plan carefully to make sure her diabetes doesn't stop her performing at her best.

"It involves a lot of preparation, preparation is key!" she stressed.

"The little things make a big difference. Technology has come a long way since I was diagnosed, so now I have a Dexcom (a Continuous Glucose Monitor) and Omnipod (an insulin pump) to help me. This means I just have to look at my phone to see what my glucose levels are and what direction they are trending."

Staying healthy is important for any athlete, but for Hannah, eating the right foods and the right amount is crucial.

"I always pack plenty of medical supplies and snacks," she said.

"You just never know what could happen when I'm out on the course for 18 holes, so having everything with me takes away a lot of stress. I try and eat similar foods when in restaurants so I know what the carbohydrate content of the meal is. But at the same time, I just try to be a 'normal' professional golfer.

"I can do anything anyone else can, I might just need to prepare more." 

I think her last point might just be the most important of all.

Hannah McCook is definitely a name to watch out for in the future.

You can find out more about Diabetes UK HERE.