By Lewine Mair
Carly Booth may be yet to reach the heights for which she looked destined as a child but, as Lewine Mair found out, she's got her sights firmly set on the future.
Carly Booth would be the first to say she's been easily diverted in the past. Today, though, she has a goal from which is unlikely to be diverted. She has her heart set on making the Solheim Cup match which is to be played at Gleneagles in the summer of 2019.
Booth, as everyone knows, had a scintillating amateur career in which, at the tender age of 11, she was the youngest ever winner of a club championship - Dunblane New. A year on and she was the youngest winner of a Scotland cap before going on to become the leading junior in Europe. She played in the Curtis Cup at St Andrews as a 14-year-old, while it was around that time that she finished as well-placed as 13th in the Scottish Ladies Open she would win as a professional in 2012.
There was all-round excitement when this strikingly good-looking and talented player joined the LET in 2009 but, as is so often the case, this new recruit found the life of a touring professional more demanding than she had anticipated. She was under pressure to perform and the results did not come all at once.
When Tano Goya, the European Tour player came along, he had looked like a good bet in that there was always the chance that he and Carly would practise side by side and that she would recover from the dive she had taken down the rankings only two years after winning her Scottish title and the Deutsche Bank Ladies Swiss Open. Having been up among the leaders after those twin triumphs, she had fallen outside the top 100 on the LET rankings.
Carly’s father, Wally, a Commonwealth Games medal-winner in the realm of wrestling, had been no less convinced than anyone else that the Tano-Carly relationship could work for his daughter’s golfing good.
Alas, he soon saw otherwise. When Goya came to stay, Carly would sit on his knee and neither of these talented young individuals was in any hurry to repair to the course outside the window. (It was a course which Wally had built in the fields around his home when Carly and her brother Wallace were starting out in golf.)
When Carly and Goya parted company last year, Wally was mighty relieved and you would have to guess that Goya’s parents felt much the same. Before that parting of the ways, Carly had missed six cuts in a row. After it, she made four out of six. As for Goya, he lost his tour card.
“It was a strained relationship,” says Carly, who said publicly that she was in a ‘bad place’ at the end of it. “We did practise together but it just doesn’t work to have two people trying to make it on two different tours.”
Carly and Gary Player may have weathered a bit of criticism when they featured in that somewhat famously under-dressed - and probably over-paid photo-shoot for ESPN’s Body Issue but Player, for one, could see no harm in it.
“Whenever we are at the same golfing do,” says Carly, “Gary will always introduce me in his speeches as the girl who can do the back-flips. He is always on about the flexibility which works for me in my golf.
“Mind you,” she continued, “I’m no different in marvelling at the shape he’s in with all his exercising. Gary’s in his 80s now and, though he says he’ll live to be over 100 if he doesn’t get run over, I think he’ll live for ever. He’s the most amazing man I’ve ever met.”
However, though others on the LET were busy preparing to go to Australia at the time of this interview, Carly was not flying anywhere: she had decided to stay in the UK and practise. She had never performed particularly well in her six sorties Down Under and had always come home feeling depressed about the amount of money she had spent getting nowhere - other of course than to Australia and back.
Two thousand and nineteen and the Solheim Cup may seem a long way ahead for the rest of us but Carly has no intention losing focus. As far as she’s concerned, it’s time to get serious - and to stay serious.
The above is an extract from an interview in the March/April 2016 issue of Women & Golf magazine, on sale on Friday 12 February. Never miss an issue click here to subscribe and enjoy W&G delivered to your door.