From down-in-the-dumps to feeling confident and positive – amputee Sheena Varsani explains how golf has transformed her life…
Golf-crazy Sheena Varsani, 30, an above-the-knee amputee, was hooked on the sport from the moment she picked up a golf club. Just six weeks on from her first lesson with professional coach Chris Whitelegg, at the Shire London Golf Club, she already credits the game with helping change her life for the better.
“Nine years ago I lost my left leg above the knee as a result of blood poisoning. I learned to walk again but it took a lot of physical and mental energy. I would constantly fret about what I might face the next day, thinking over every possible step in case I was confronted with new terrain I couldn’t cope with. I lived in fear of falling down and would go to sleep worrying. I was often down in the dumps in the evening as life seemed stressful and I was fearful of moving out of my comfort zone.
I had been sporty before I lost my leg, enjoying football and tennis. I wanted to stay fit and active and had been looking for a new sport. I had met an amputee who played golf years back and it had long been on my mind to give it a go.
I booked in for a half-hour lesson with Chris Whitelegg to give golf a go and see if it would fit the bill. I fell in love with golf from the minute I tried it. I had a video analysis lesson at the driving range with Chris, who was inspirational. He showed me the basics of a golf swing and talked about the body mechanics of learning to play.
Something about the game really chimed with me and by the end of the session I was hitting the ball cleanly. Chris was patient and encouraging and talked about what I could do rather than what I couldn’t. It was all so positive and I left on such a high that I wanted to keep playing. I loved it so much my husband took me to the nearby Top Golf driving range at Watford immediately after my lesson where I hit another 40 balls!
I booked 10 more lessons with Chris and also went on my own to the driving range as many times as I could the following week. I’ve been regularly since and now own my own clubs.
I’ve fallen in love with golf because it has changed my life for the better. Golf is like a washing machine for the mind – clearing away worries and making fresh room for a calmer mindset. Chris’s focus on what I can do in golf has made me think more positively in other areas of life. Instead of worrying about what might happen, or about falling down, I think “yes, I can do that” if I’m asked to go somewhere or do something. Before, I often turned down invitations because I was worried what might happen.
I am already a member of two driving ranges and my next move will be to try a nine-hole course and of course to keep improving my golf swing with help from Chris.
I love everything about the sport and can’t recommend it enough. It’s a great way of keeping physically active but it also does wonders for helping create a positive, can-do state of mind. It is so absorbing that it just takes away your worries. Now my focus is all about what I can achieve rather than what I can’t do. I no longer limit myself and I can’t believe how much it has helped improve my state of mind. Taking up golf was the best thing I ever did.
If you are inspired by this story and would like to take up golf then visit getintogolf.org to get started or call 0800 118 2766 for more information.
Get into golf is the national campaign to inspire adults to take up golf, run by England Golf and supported by Sport England National Lottery funding.