CARLY Booth has opened her heart on the “personal” problems that left the Perthshire player in a “bad place” during the slump that followed a quickfire double triumph on the Ladies European Tour three years ago.
The 22-year-old was riding on the crest of a wave after she followed her breakthrough victory on the circuit in the Aberdeen Asset Management Ladies Scottish Open at Archerfield Links by also winning the Deutsche Bank Ladies Swiss Open a fortnight later.
“I hit rock bottom this year… but since then I have started to find my feet”Carly Booth
Coupled with two other top 10s, Booth finished fifth on the money list in 2012 and looked set to use that eye-catching season as a springboard for Solheim Cup appearances and a ticket to join the big guns on the LPGA Tour.
Instead, her career spiralled into freefall, dropping more than 100 spots on the LET Order of Merit in the space of 12 months, then finding herself down in 110th position after another miserable campaign in 2014.
She’d lost her love for the game, but, following a split from boyfriend Tano Goya, an Argentine who plays on the European Tour, Booth is starting to finally see light at the end of a long, dark tunnel.
In the first tournament she actually “enjoyed” for two years, the former Curtis Cup player finished tenth behind England’s Melissa Reid in last month’s Turkish Airlines Open in Belek.
Buoyed by that effort and feeling reinvigorated after linking up with a new coach, Booth is feeling excited about the rest of the season, which includes a date at Dundonald Links next month for the Aberdeen Asset Management Ladies Scottish Open.
“What fun?” replied Booth to being asked if the enjoyment she appeared to be having off the course – something that had been portrayed on social media – had played a part in her slump on it. “It was more of a cover or maybe not a cover as such, but it was an impression I gave. I wasn’t a happy person. I was in a bad place.
“I hit rock bottom this year, just after Mission Hills in March. It was due to personal things. But since then I have gradually started to find my feet, and now I’m in a happy place. And that is why my golf is starting to come along.”
Is it a chapter in her life that she regrets? “Not really,” she insisted. “Yes, there are loads of things where I can say, ‘oh, I wish I didn’t do that’, but you know what, I am who I am today. I’ve learnt from my mistakes and it’s a whole process. You can’t say ‘I wish I hadn’t done that’ because you learn from it, and you try to do things differently, and try to make things better. You have to take these things in a positive way, and try to use them in that way, instead of thinking ‘oh God, that was bad’. You need to be positive.
“It’s quite personal, so I don’t really want to go into it. But it went on for about a year and a half. But what has been a big help for me now has been my coach, Daniel [Haughian, who is based in Manchester and also works with former footballer Dwight Yorke, who has his sights set on qualifying for the Seniors Tour in a few years’ time], because he is not only working on the golf side of things, but he has actually become my best friend.
“He’s a shoulder for me, I can talk to him about anything, and he is such a positive person. He is so upbeat, and Turkey was great, we had such a great laugh, and he is just fun to be around. He brings out my good side, and it is hard not to be happy around him. It was enjoyable to have him caddie for me. Like I say, I’m now getting the right people around me.
“Turkey, I swear to you, was the first week in a couple of years where I actually enjoyed being at a tournament. So, without going into too many details, it has been a learning process, and I feel I’m now on the right side of things.”
This week Booth is heading for the Netherlands, where her fellow Scot Kylie Walker defends her title in the Deloitte Ladies Open starting on Friday.
“Yes, I do,” Booth replied when asked whether she felt confident about getting her game back to a winning level. “Because now I can focus on me, and put myself first. Golf is now my priority. I want to be back in the winner’s circle very soon.”
Have the events of the past couple of years helped her grow up? “Yes and no,” she replied to that. “I actually think I am a very mature 22-year-old. This is my sixth year on tour. Every day is a learning day. I could be sitting here aged 38 or 42… I’d still be learning every day. To have the nous to learn, to improve – that’s life. I feel like I’m 30, I’ve been out here so long. So I actually feel like I have age on my side.”