Friends of ‘big lad’ Marcus Armitage thought he was mad when he decided to dramatically transform a game that earned him the EuroPro Tour’s rookie of the year award.
But the 27-year-old who plays out of Morley’s Howley Hall Golf Club knew that if he wanted to fulfil his lifetime’s ambition of joining the game’s elite, he had to make drastic changes.
And it wasn’t just his swing he deconstructed. At a weight of 18 stone, Armitage accepted he did not have the physique of a top golfer.
“I looked at the top 100 in the world and realised I don’t look anything like they do,” said Armitage, who has lost four stone, four pounds in the last six months on the Herbalife diet.
Such dramatic weight loss inevitably meant a change to his swing, with less body for his arms to get tangled in.
And with those two major amendments, he thought he may as well go the whole hog.
“Everyone thinks I’m mad considering what I did last year, that I’m turning my game upside down,” said Armitage, who won 14 times around the country in 2013, including once on the EuroPro Tour.
“I got a new coach, Anthony Sheehy. My old coach Andrew Rishworth recommended him and through Anthony, I’m now working with his brother John whose a fitness instructor.
“He’s got me on the Herbalife diet – a shake in the morning and at lunchtime and then three chicken breasts in an evening.
“It’s a protein-based diet instead of a carbohydrate diet. I used to just eat fast food, donuts and chocolate.
“I’ve also got a new golf psychologist. It was a wrench leaving Duncan McCarthy because he’s been great, but I was making a conscious effort to change everything.
“I don’t care if it takes me 10 years or 20 years to get onto the European Tour, I’ll keep going. If I can stay fit, I might be able to play this game for another 33 years.”
So many changes have inevitably led to a drop in form as Armitage heads across Leeds to Moor Allerton, for this week’s Clipper Logistics Championship.
A home event is one he is relishing, but it might also prove a watershed as he continues to get comfortable with his new swing, and his new body.
“It’s not been an easy season,” said Armitage, who finished fourth in Ireland two weeks ago.
“I’m playing with a swing I’ve never played with before so all my other faults are coming in.
“When you’re away from home and away from the range travelling up to four weeks at a time as I have been, then you’re not going to get any work done.
“I need to get to the range and get some solid work done.
“When Nick Faldo remodelled his swing he took two years out and did nothing but work on the range. I will sit down after Moor Allerton and rethink my schedule for the rest of the season.
“I need to get my swing grooved in so I might take some time out and just focus on getting myself in a good position to have a crack at European Tour qualifying school.”