GOLF and golfers have always had a fairly tempestuous relationship. It seems so long now since I cobbled together a half decent round, I reckon the fusty evidence of this modest assembly of swipes, howks and dunts is only available in the archives of the British Pathe newsreels. But still, we keep going.
You have to work at relationships, after all. Just ask Peter Piper, he of picked a peck of pickled peppers fame, who forged an unlikely alliance with that girl who sells sea shells on the sea shore. The sheer tongue-twisting awkwardness of the chat on that first date could have been quite calamitous but apparently they got on quite the thing.
Now, if you’ve managed to re-attach your mouth to your face after attempting to read those last couple of bamboozling sentences out loud, then we can plough on. Where were we? Ah yes, relationships.
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It can be easy to fall out of love with this intoxicating, infuriating and often insufferable pursuit but, then, golf was never meant to be easy to get on with. Carly Booth seems to have endured more ups and downs than the infantry under the leadership of the Grand Old Duke of York so it was encouraging to see the young Scot claim her first top-10 finish on the Ladies European Tour for two years at the weekend when she earned a share of eighth place in the Lalla Meryem Cup in Morocco.
This was the same event in which Booth made her professional debut on the circuit back in 2010. Now, in 2017, perhaps it can provide a launching pad again?
It’s hard to think that Booth is still only a mere 24 years of age. It feels to those of us in the golf writing scene like we have been documenting her progress for so long now, our articles have had to undergo a process of radiocarbon dating.
From Britain’s youngest club champion at the age of 11 to a double Ladies European Tour winner less than a decade later, Booth has grown up in the spotlight. It’s not an easy place to exist, of course. Publicity, pressure, praise, put-downs?
There were even nude photo shoots in ESPN’s Body magazine in 2013 to generate more kerfuffle. Mind you, the eye-popping sight of golden oldie, Gary Player, posing in the scuddy in that same publication took a sizeable chunk of the limelight away from Booth.
Great expectations had been lumped on Booth from an early age. In the small pool of the Scottish scene, where we are always looking for a new standard-bearer to carry on from the peerless Catriona Matthew, the burdens can be stifling but when Booth reeled off a brace of rapid fire tour triumphs in the Ladies Scottish Open and the Ladies Swiss Open in 2012 it seemed she had taken all the hype in her stride andwas ready for blast-off.
It didn’t quite work out that way, of course. The season after her breakthrough year she made just three cuts in 16 events. In 2014, she made the weekend just four times in 19 outings and didn’t break 70. It’s been an on-going struggle since then.
In that time, though, Booth has faced up to her professional and personal problems. A couple of years ago, during a media day for the Ladies Scottish Open, she delivered a frank interview about the breakdown of a relationship which had clearly had a huge impact on her. It was an engagingly honest outpouring as she confessed that she had finally reached rock bottom.
Behind all the smiles was just a young girl trying to cope with the hassles and heartaches that are par for the course in everyday life. Sportswomen and men are not immune to those trials and tribulations.
There are signs, though, that Booth is back on the straight and narrow and a decent start to the season – she was 25th in the Ladies European Tour opener in Australia earlier in the year – may just hint at better things to come. In this pursuit of great longevity, there is always time to turn the fortunes around.
The last week or so on the global golfing stage has demonstrated that. If it wasn’t Sergio Garcia finally burying his demons and winning a major at the 74th attempt in the Masters at Augusta then it was former Ryder Cup player Edoardo Molinari winning on the European Tour for the first time in seven years on Sunday and emerging from a thoroughly desperate spell that had been plagued by a ravaging wrist injury which threatened to scupper the Italian’s career.
Even the Canadian veteran, Stephen Ames, managed to bridge a title gap of eight years at the weekend with a maiden victory on the over-50s Champions Tour.
In this sport for all age groups, time can be a great healer. And, at just 24, time is something that Booth has plenty of on her side.