A BATTLING golfer who first noticed the signs of a debilitating disease while playing the sport he loves has scored his first ever hole-in-one.
Granddad Dennis Winn, 67, refuses to let his fight against both Parkinson’s and cancer get in the way of a round of golf.
And his determination was rewarded at Castle Eden Golf Club, near Hartlepool, last week when he hit a hole-in-one on the sixth – his first in almost four decades of playing the game.
The dad-of-two, who was diagnosed with prostate cancer last August and Parkinson’s in 2000, says he was in shock when he got to the green of the 170-yard par-three to find his ball had been swallowed by the hole.
Dennis, who lives in Blackhall Rocks, said: “I don’t know how it happened. For some reason I was hitting the ball so well.
“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.
“I said ‘what’s happening’ and he just said ‘your ball’s gone in the hole’. My friends and the other fellas were more elated than I was!”
In keeping with tradition, Dennis bought a bottle of whisky and put it behind the bar so everyone could share in his success on Tuesday, March 6.
Dennis started playing golf at Houghton-le-Spring in 1974 and played in a host of competitions, getting his handicap down to just nine.
But at the end of the last century, 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 TV engineer, who had his own company, said: “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 he said I had early stages of Parkinson’s within just a couple of minutes.”
Dennis struggled for a couple of years as the symptoms took hold, but they vanished overnight when he tried new medication.
However, five years later the drugs were taken from him after 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.
The cancer is contained and Dennis started treatment to remove it last week.
Dennis, who is married to Margaret 69, said: “I have managed to maintain a generally good lifestyle and always try to play as much golf as I can, but I have to use a buggy now.
“I have never let any of it get me depressed. I believe in fighting it head on.”
Dennis, who is dad to Angela, 42, and Kathleen, 41, and granddad to Rosie, 12, and Eve, 10, now talks to fellow Parkinson’s sufferers about a symptom he has called freezing, which causes him to be unable to move.
He has developed a few 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.
He is also an active member of the local Parkinson’s group.