An inspirational golfer who first noticed the signs of a debilitating disease while playing the sport he loves has scored his first ever hole-in-one. Dennis Winn, 67, from Blackhall Rocks, refuses to let his fight against Parkinson’s disease and cancer get in the way of a round of golf.
His determination was justly rewarded at Castle Eden Golf Club, near Hartlepool, when he hit a hole-in-one on the sixth hole – his first in almost four decades of playing the game.
The father-of-two – and a granddad – who was diagnosed with prostate cancer last August and Parkinson’s in 2000, says he was in shock when he got to the 170-yard par-three green to find his ball in the hole.
“I don’t know how it happened, but for some reason I was hitting the ball so well,” he says. “I took a seven wood and hit it as hard as I could. When I was going up to it I knew it would be close. One of the guys on the next tee box was waving and clapping.
Dennis Winn started playing golf at Houghton-le-Spring in 1974 and played in a host of competitions, getting his handicap down to nine. But in the late 1990s, his game started to fall away and a trip to the doctors ended with him being diagnosed with Parkinson’s, an incurable degenerative disorder of the central nervous system.
The former television engineer says: “I realised I wasn’t playing very well and I had a tremor in my left hand.
“I went to see a neurology specialist and within just a couple of minutes he said I had early stages of Parkinson’s.”
He struggled for a few years as the symptoms took hold, but they vanished overnight when he tried new medication. However, five years later, the drugs were denied him when they were found to lead to heart and lung problems, causing the symptoms to return. He suffered a further blow in August last year when he was told he has prostate cancer which is being operated on. But he remains remarkably positive.
He now talks to fellow Parkinson’s sufferers about a symptom he has called “freezing”, which makes him unable to move. He has developed techniques – from kicking a cardboard box to shining a torch at his feet – to get himself out of the state and visits hospitals to show others how it works.