In January, Carly Booth was one of six players to tie for 29th spot at the Ladies’ European Tour Qualifying School. With 30 spots up for grabs, there would be a play-off to determine the final two places. At the second extra hole the Scot was eliminated.
Six months on and things are very different. Booth leads the tour’s Order of Merit after landing two wins from eight starts as the promise from a glittering amateur career – she was still 15 at the 2008 Curtis Cup – has been transferred, in some style, to the paid ranks.
The first came when she battled high winds to produce three superb under-par rounds at Archerfield Links. The second, six weeks later, was in Switzerland, courtesy of an eagle at the fourth extra hole. Another play-off but a very different result.
Better still her boyfriend, the European Tour player Tano Goya, was on her bag.
Life is very sweet at the moment for Booth and she’s still only 20.
What was it like juggling your A levels with your first year on tour?
It was difficult, it was definitely a learning year for me on tour.
2011 didn’t quite go to plan when you lost your card – what did you learn from that?
Nothing was clicking, but at the same time I was able to keep gaining experience which can only help.
You have only just turned 20, do you think some people forget quite how young you still are?
Being around at a high level from a very young age, some people may lose track of how old I am, and turning pro at only 17 was very young.
I think people’s expectations were very high for me to get off to a kicking start but I think I still needed time to grow.
I think one of my downfalls was putting that pressure on myself to perform to everyone’s expectations which therefore gave a negative effect on my golf for wanting it too much. The mental aspect has been one of the biggest improvements to my game this season.
You had a lot of attention as an amateur – did it take a while to become attuned to the professional game?
Yes, expectations were high for me to do well straightaway. I don’t think many people realise going into the professional level from amateur golf is a huge leap and some people take more time than others to grasp it.
When you lost the play-off in La Manga how did you think the season would pan out?
Well obviously I was disappointed but again the card I had for 2012 was better than it was for 2011 so, in some ways, I wasn’t too worried as I knew I’d be able to get into most events.
How important confidence wise was it to win on the Access Series?
It was a huge boost for me. I think it did me a lot of good for going into the season.
Conditions at Archerfield were very tough, do you prefer it when it’s like that or a birdie fest?
I like a challenge. I feel when it’s tough I have an advantage because my long game is so strong at the moment. I’d rather it be that way.
I think one of my downfalls was putting that pressure on myself to perform to everyone’s expectations which therefore gave a negative effect on my golf for wanting it too much. Were you surprised quite how well you handled yourself in front of your home fans in the last round?
I think that’s where my experience from winning a lot as an amateur showed that day – to keep my nerve, stay calm and focused. If I’m honest I really enjoy being in front of a home crowd, I find it helps me. It was nice to have family and friends there supporting.
What was it like dancing with Brendan Cole?
Pretty cool, he is a really nice guy. I met him once before at Golf Live 2011, we did a 3-hole challenge together, so the fact I already knew him was great. When I heard what we were doing I was very much looking forward to it!
Have you got any plans to have your boyfriend back on the bag?
Ha ha, I’m not too sure. He’s busy playing himself. It was a very special week for us both and I was so happy he was there to share it with me. He has been so supportive and I feel it has really helped me mentally.
It was the first time that he had seen me play in a tournament.
How good a caddy is he?
The best! He did a fantastic job. He said it was a nice experience to be on the other side of the bag for a change – it was his first time caddying.
When you play each other does he give you shots?
We haven’t been able to play much together yet, but no, no shots. Maybe I’ll go one tee in front. We will hopefully play more this summer.
Did you set any targets at the beginning of the year?
Yes, to enjoy being on tour more and to win my first tournament.
So what are they now?
To keep winning.
Is the plan to give it a go on the LPGA Tour at some point?
At the end of next year my plan is to try Q School.
You will now play in the Women’s British Open – have you played this year’s host course Royal Liverpool before?
Yes, a couple of times so I am a little familiar with it. It’s a great course.
How well suited to links golf is your game?
Yes I like links golf, I played a lot as an amateur but since turning pro, we don’t play at all except the British and Scottish Opens really.
Can you explain what the course was like in your back garden?
There are 15 holes, four par 4s and the rest par 3s. It was great to have growing up – certainly I wouldn’t have been the player I am today if I didn’t have it.
How good is your short game?
My short game is improving. It has been the weakest part of my game over the course of the last couple of years but it’s getting back on track. When I’m home I try and chip a lot on my course.