Jack Newton knows how to fight having overcome a near-death experience when he walked into a plane’s propeller. Now he is confronting another huge battle.
Jack Newton knows how to fight having overcome a near-death experience when he walked into a plane’s propeller. Now he is confronting another huge battle.

Aussie golf legend’s battle against Alzheimers

Golfing legend Jack Newton is battling Alzheimer's disease and has embraced a healthy lifestyle to fight the condition's debilitating effects.

The 70-year-old is now adjusting to life without booze and cigarettes and is on a strict exercise regime and medication, in a battle his son says "he won't give up".

Jack is renowned for his fighting qualities, having recovered from a near-death experience that shocked the nation in 1983 when he walked into a plane's propeller at Sydney airport, losing his right arm and eye and part of his abdomen.

Golfing legend Jack Newton with his wife Jackie at his Newcastle property Augusta. It has been revealed that Jack is now suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. Picture by Peter Lorimer.
Golfing legend Jack Newton with his wife Jackie at his Newcastle property Augusta. It has been revealed that Jack is now suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. Picture by Peter Lorimer.

He's now tackling his latest health scare with the same determination.

"Jack hasn't touched a drop of alcohol or a smoke for 18 months," says his wife Jackie.

"It's been a big lifestyle change but he's exercising regularly and going OK."

Newton was first diagnosed in July last year after a visit to his family GP and then a specialist. It is the same disease that killed his father, Jack Snr, in his late sixties.

 

Jack with Tom Watson before the British Open playoff in 1975. Picture: Peter Dazeley
Jack with Tom Watson before the British Open playoff in 1975. Picture: Peter Dazeley

 

Jack in action during his younger years.
Jack in action during his younger years.

Newton has passed the role as chairman of the Jack Newton Junior Golf Foundation to his son and former NRL star, Clint Newton, who is RLPA chief executive.

Newton is doing okay but struggles with his short-term memory and some sentences.

The family is selling their acreage outside of Newcastle they called Augusta, after the famous US Masters course.

It was at Atlanta in 1980 that Newton gave his greatest performance at the US Masters - chasing down and almost beating great Seve Ballesteros despite being nine-shots behind.

Jack being inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame by Peter Thompson.
Jack being inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame by Peter Thompson.

The family will move to a new home in Merewether where it's easier for him to cope.

"We're so proud of the sacrifices he's made in the last 18 months," Clint said.

"He's been a drinker and a smoker since his late teens. To give it all away cold turkey is incredible. This is his new challenge.

Jack getting ready to go to the driving range. Picture by Peter Lorimer.
Jack getting ready to go to the driving range. Picture by Peter Lorimer.

"Alzheimer's has been thrust upon him but he's up for the fight. The perception of dad was always a character and a bloke who enjoyed a beer and a smoke. That's not him anymore. He still wants to be the best he can be for mum and his grandchildren.

"I can guarantee one thing - he won't give up."

Clint speaks with enormous pride about his father's achievements as a "boy from the coalfields who worked his backside off to make it to the top in his chosen field of golf."


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