Mark Seymour weighed nearly 25 stone at his heaviest. Taking up golf has helped him get back in shape.
After leaving the navy my fitness plummeted and the weight piled on until I was almost 25 stone. I’m 6ft 5 but I was still too big for my height.
I had always played a bit of fun golf, but never taken it seriously. A couple of years ago, I retired from the navy and was free at weekends for the first time in years, so decided to take up golf seriously.
I wanted to learn to play the game properly so I signed up for a six-week Get into golf beginner’ course at World of Golf, in New Malden.
I was a little nervous because I didn’t know what to expect when I turned up for the first lesson. However, as it turned out, there was no need to be nervous at all. Grant Guerin, the PGA professional taking the course, quickly put everyone at ease and outlined what would be covered.
We started the first lesson concentrating on correct grip, posture, and hitting a few balls using just a short swing. As the lessons progressed different aspects of the game were introduced such as chipping, putting, etiquette, basic rules of the game. All of this delivered in an unpressured, friendly atmosphere.
After the course I started attending some of the World of Golf local partnership 9-hole golf courses at Coombe Wood Golf Club, Wimbledon Common Golf Club, Bletchingley Golf Club, Reigate Hill Golf Club and Sutton Green Golf Club.
These were designed to get beginners out on a course with no pressure as all. Players were roughly the same standard and they were great fun. This proved to be the clincher for me and I was soon hooked on golf.
I then attended the improvers’ course, and have since had individual lessons because I want to continue to improve and aim to be a single figure handicapper at some stage in the future.
Throughout my learning process it became quite apparent to me that one of the challenges I would face would be my weight and general fitness. I would play a lot better if I lost some weight – swinging the club and walking the 18-holes would be easier.
My wife Tracey joined Weight Watchers to get back in shape – so I went along with her.
One of the things Weight Watchers advocates is activity. It doesn’t matter what it is as long as you make an effort to be active doing something. Walking and counting the steps seems to be popular and Tracey even went out and bought a fit bit to measure it all.
For me this was perfect as it meant my weight loss program and golf could actually go hand in hand. This is exactly how it has worked for me. I found that the more I played, the more weight I lost. Then the more weight I lost the better I played and then the better I played the more I wanted to play. It was a virtuous circle with everything feeding each other quite nicely - and it works.
I have now lost five stone in 10 months and am still shedding pounds as I work towards my 18-stone target. Tracey has also started playing golf and she has lost five stone too.
I have joined Surrey Downs Golf Club and been given an official handicap and worked on getting that down to 22 (and still going). My wife has now done the same beginners’ course, and has been out on the course. She doesn’t play at the club yet, but she comes with me when I play and pushes the trolley to get her steps in. It’s great to spend the afternoon together in the outdoors doing something we really enjoy.
Is this the end of the story? No, not at all! I will keep playing. In fact, I will play as often as I can, although now the winter is here that is reduced to once a week due to work commitments in my job as an IT manager.
I will also continue to lose weight until I reach 18-stone – and the golf will also help me stay at a healthier weight.