A keen Hartlepool golfer made an incredible return to action from a long-term injury lay-off by hitting a hole-in-one on a par four.
Paul Auton, 35, from Blackwood Close, was not sure if he would be able to play the sport again when he underwent reconstructive surgery on his hand last July.
He only returned to competitive action last week, and incredibly, hit a hole-in-one at the par four 10th at Hartlepool Golf Club, becoming the first player in 35 years to do so.
The hole is 368 yards in length, with hole-in-ones on par fours incredibly rare.
It is a feat the printing technician, who has been a member of the club for around 15 years, is still struggling to take in.
Mr Auton, who plays off a handicap of five, said: “It was touch and go whether I could play, and it was my first game back. I only turned up to have a social game, but when I saw the club cup was on, I entered it, not expecting to do anything.
I was lucky to be able to come back and play golf, never mind do thatPaul Auton
“I got to the 10th hole and had been hitting my driver quite well, so as I stood on the tee, I thought I’d have a go at it. For it to go in was incredible, and without doubt it was my greatest moment on a golf course.
“I had never hit a hole-in-one on a par three, never mind a par four. I was just aiming for the fairway, but I caught it off the middle and it somehow went in.”
Mr Auton underwent the surgery on his hand last July, with two of his bones having been badly affected by arthritis.
Those bones were taken out, with two titanium bones replacing them, while two metal plates and four screws were also inserted.
Mr Auton added: “I was lucky to be able to come back and play golf, never mind do that.
“It feels OK now, and certainly a lot better than it did, but I still have to have a final scan in July.”
Mr Auton’s feat has been hailed by the captain of the Hartlepool club, Bob Dignen.
He said: “The last time a hole-in-one was hit on the 10th hole was 35 years ago, so it is an incredible achievement.
“It’s a blind hole, which needs an arrow straight drive, so he must have creamed it.
“It’s very, very rare to get a hole-in-one, particularly on a par four, so he was beaming.”