Carly Booth says she’ll embrace whatever Mother Nature has in store for the Aberdeen Standard Investments Ladies Scottish Open over the next four days. That’s just as well because, if The Renaissance Club keeps getting hit by the thunderstorms that disrupted the pro-am for the $1.5 million event, then Noah will be sailing up the 18th fairway in his Ark to present a cracking new trophy on Sunday evening.
Due to the miserable weather, smiles have been few and far between so far this week among the players in a world-class field that has assembled for the LET and LPGA co-sanctioned tournament on the East Lothian coast. Time and time again, though, in a press conference, Booth lit up the room with one as she not only talked about her own career but also happily offered views on the current plight of a fellow child prodigy, Lydia Ko.
An absentee on this occasion after supporting the event in the past, Ko has won just once in the last three years, having racked up two majors and 14 LPGA titles in a short period of time prior to that during a prolific spell that saw her reach world No 1. The Kiwi missed the cut in both the Evian Championship and AIG Women’s British Open in the past two weeks, finishing second last in the latter after rounds of 76-80 at Woburn.
Responding to Ko’s form slump, her former coach, David Leadbetter, urged her to “take a break” and hit out at her parents for all sorts of changes in recent seasons, accusing them of “unbelievable ignorance” and urging them to “let her leave the nest so to speak and find her own way”.
Booth, of course, has seen lots of people offer opinions about where she might have gone wrong over the years, having not really managed yet to fulfil her potential but still having plenty of time to do so given she is just 27, and, therefore, can relate in some ways to Ko finding herself in a different spotlight than she’s been accustomed to.
“It’s hard,” said the Comrie woman, who became the youngest ladies’ club champion at the age of 11 at Dunblane New and appeared in her first professional event at just 14. “She’s done so well. People forget that now. It’s like we can’t all be at the top of our game every week. Maybe she’s going through some changes. There’s a lot of things to it, pressure, for instance, and it just gets on top of you. Maybe she’s just lost a bit of confidence and she’s just going through this kind of spell at the moment.
“But, you know, she’s a world-class player. She’ll get it back. You’ve seen some of the best male players out there, they have a bit of a blip and they come back. That’s the thing, people don’t know what goes on in their personal lives, and I know from experience, that can really affect you on the golf course. If you’re not in a happy place, how do you expect to be in a happy place on the golf course, too?”
Seven years after enjoying the happiest moment of her career so far when she landed her maiden LET title with victory in the Ladies Scottish Open at Archerfield Links when playing on a sponsor’s invitation, Booth is back in exactly the same position next door at The Renaissance Club this week thanks to Aberdeen Standard Investments. “Maybe it will happen again this year,” she said in recalling a triumph that has a “special place in my heart”.
After also winning the Deutsche Bank Ladies Swiss Open in 2012, her career seemed destined to take off, but, after struggling for a spell, it’s only this season, really, that she has started to reproduce some of her old form. Alas, it would take a win this weekend to force her way into the Solheim Cup mix in her native Perthshire next month. “You know, the thing is with this industry, there’s so many different coaches. There’s so many different ways you can maybe say, oh, I should have done this or I could have done that, but at the time I did what I thought was best,” said Booth, who is now coached by European Tour player Robert Rock, as she turned back the clock to that double triumph seven years ago and what happened immediately afterwards.
“I also never practised so hard as I did in 2013 and 2014, and they were my worst years. I mean, how does that work? I think a lot of it there is just in your head, really. So I think I just got myself into a better place of mind heading into 2015. Changed coach and I just started enjoying golf more.
“I think because of working really hard, I just maybe lost the enjoyment of it a little bit. So I think it’s about balance, really, for me. This season’s gone well so far. There’s a lot of things I want to improve and get better, but at least it’s going in the right direction now. That’s the main thing.”