INSPIRATIONAL GOLFER DEFIES TERMINAL CANCER

Former club champion Stephen Martin achieves a hole-in-one just six weeks after a major operation

By James Dobbin

A nuclear power plant inspector diagnosed with terminal cancer defied his condition when he achieved a hole-in-one just six weeks after undergoing a major operation. 

Brave Stephen Martin, 52, from Newark-on-Trent, scored his poignant ace during a men’s monthly medal competition – of which the five-handicapper was also the defending champion – at his home club, Southwell, following his third stage of chemotherapy.

His timeless moment of magic came on the 134-yard, par-three seventh and was made even more special by the fact that it was witnessed by 20 of his golfing chums, inciting applause so rapturous it could be heard at the clubhouse, more than 100 yards away. 

He said: “Following my operation six weeks previously, I decided I would play our club championship anyway, given I was defending champion. It was a windy day and, as I’ve lost a lot of my power due to my treatments, I chose to hit an eight-iron on the seventh hole.

“With a draw on the wind and a friendly bounce, the ball never left the flag, disappearing at a gentle roll.”

And he couldn’t have picked a more opportune moment – or hole – to achieve the feat, since the fifth green at Southwell can be seen from two surrounding greens and tee boxes.

He added: “Being watched by all my friends, who’ve all shown me such tremendous support since I was diagnosed, was more special than the actual hole-in-one and amplified the occasion ten-fold.

“I finished the tournament in sixth place, but the celebration for my hole-in-one, embarrassingly, overshadowed the celebrations for the competition’s champion. I knew I wasn’t going to win, as my chemotherapy has weakened me, but the ace really was the icing on the cake – we all, of course, celebrated with a bottle of scotch at the clubhouse bar.”

Martin has been playing golf for 36 years, beginning when he was 16, and achieved his only other competitive hole-in-one 15 years ago, at Newark GC, but didn’t see it go in the hole.