HOWLEY HALL’S Marcus Armitage topped the class in the Jamega Pro Tour event at Oxford Golf Club. The former European Tour player had to borrow money from a friend in order to compete in the opening two events of the Tour, but it proved to be an educated decision after pocketing a cheque for £3,500 to add to the £1,500 he got for his runner-up spot the week before at Goodwood House. He dislocated his shoulder on the eve of the Open Championship last year and spent the winter rehabilitating after deciding not to undergo surgery.
“Due to the injury I wasn’t able to play much so I wasn’t earning any money,” said Armitage. “Also we had just bought a new house so I had been really struggling for money before these two events.
“I’ve now been able to pay the money back and have enough money to go to the first three Challenge Tour events thanks to selling a few more shares.”
Armitage, who became a winner again with an eight-under-par total of 132 to win by three shots from Nathan Kimsey, Chris Lloyd and Jamie Abbott, has launched a scheme offering up to 300 shares at £150 each, and is looking to pay back up to 25% of his winnings to the syndicate.
“I sold five more shares recently so that has also helped and the people in the syndicate are all in a Facebook Messenger group and get regular videos and other postings to let them know what I’m up to and in which part of the world I’m playing golf.”
He has also recently changed coaches after ending a five-year relationship with Anthony Sheehy at the close of 2018, and is now working with Tommy Fleetwood’s coach Alan Thompson.
“I have been lucky with Alan. He’s out on tour with Tommy most of the time and also works with Lee Slattery,” said Armitage. “He’s turned down the chance to work with a few other European Tour players as he’s so busy, but I found out from a friend that he does the odd day here and there at his club Heswall so I managed to book a lesson.
“During the first session I really just listened to what he had to say, but during the second lesson we had much more dialogue and I really found something.
“I won’t be able to see him again until June, but that’s fine as I communicate a lot with him through WhatsApp, sending videos of my swing that he takes a look at.” That “something” led to a second round of 65 that included seven birdies, nine pars and just two bogeys and that meant that no one could catch him. He also took advantage of the super slick greens after spending much of the winter working on his stroke at John Eyre’s indoor putting studio above his pro shop at Woodsome Hall.
“If I played on greens as good as those at Oxford for the rest of my life I would be a very happy man,” continued Armitage. “They were superb and rolling at 13.5 on the stimpmeter, which was perfect for me as John’s greens in his studio are about 14. My new house is only five minutes from Woodsome so I spend a lot of time there.”
He reckons his shoulder is now “90-95% “, but continues to build it up with regular gym sessions and specific exercises. He has also lost a stone and a half with more weight loss planned.
“I still hear the odd click from my shoulder – maybe a couple of times a round – as the dislocation also caused what is like a divot in the top of my bone,” he explained, “but it doesn’t hurt and I have found a way to manage it during a round.
"I’m really optimistic about the year ahead and hopefully I can earn enough money from the Challenge Tour events in Turkey, Spain and the Czech Republic to be able to afford to play for the rest of the year, but like everybody else I worry about being able to make my mortgage and car payments and have to take every month as it comes.
“I’m looking forward to more improvement from working with Alan, the winter sessions at John’s putting studio have really improved my putting, and I continue to sharpen my short game under Danny Denison. I just need to sell more shares now, and anyone interested can call me on 07891 560638.”