Top golfer Carly Booth took part in our ‘Train With…’ series for BESTFIT TV before returning to the course with one target in mind for 2019: silverware. It’s all in the mind, she says…
Carly, you were a top gymnast and a county champion swimmer as a kid, and now you’re a top golfer… you have sport in your blood! Have you always taken an interest in your fitness too?
My dad always says that I was in the gym before I could walk. We grew up with a very supportive background. My dad was a wrestler and so he built a gym at the house, so I think it’s always been a part of me since I was born. It’s something I’ve always been interested in and so something I’ve always just done.
One of your brothers plays golf, the other is a star after winning at the paralympics. Why do you think you’ve all excelled in sport?
My family just gave us all plenty of opportunities and as kids we were all able to try all sorts of sports to see which ones we liked. We were very lucky.
You were so good at so many sports at a young age, so why golf?
My older brother Wallace decided that golf was what he wanted to do when he was aged seven, so I think I wanted to follow in his footsteps. I was fortunate to be good at a few sports, but I really stood out at golf at a young age. In gymnastics, I was good, but there were a lot of other talented kids, even by the age of eight years old. Swimming was more a means to an end for the fitness, and so after getting my first golf handicap at eight it just kind of accelerated from there.
Is it true you were playing off 20 aged eight? How does that even happen?!
It just happened! I didn’t realise it was such an achievement at the time. Ever since then all I’ve tried to do is get better.
A Russian wrestling coach said he could turn you into a champion. There can’t be many golfers with the strength required to wrestle?
Well, when I was doing gymnastics aged five I was surrounded by a lot of wrestling folk because of my dad, who was not only a wrestler himself but who also used to coach. I think the gymnastics gave me a lot of strength and mobility, which really helped with all my sports. I think that’s what helped me stand out at such a young age across the sports I did.
We’ve seen some incredible feats of strength and agility on your Instagram feed, like swinging a dumbbell while standing on a Swissball. How much time do you spend in the gym and what sort of sessions do you do?
It’s a balancing act and I’m in the gym a lot but this year I’m trying to be more focused on my golf swing too. It’s difficult because I’ve had a lot of niggling injuries, which mean I am trying to strengthen those areas of the body, like my elbow, for example, and my left shoulder. A lot of the work I try and do now is focused on those areas and making them more mobile. It’s not just about strength in those areas, but also rotation and flexibility.
What’s your one workout or move that is an essential part of your weekly routine in relation to your golf swing?
Any kind of rotational movements are great for the golf swing but also anything that helps you develop your power.
As a gymnast you would have been incredibly strong, and swimming requires strong shoulders. Have you always been strong?
I would say so. People say I have big traps and I think that’s down to a lot of handstands down the years! I swam for so many years and my best stroke was butterfly, which is the hardest one, so that gave me a lot of power.
Is strength important in golf?
I think so. It certainly helps you physically and mentally. Golf can be a long game and so you don’t want to get mentally tired. It all plays a part, particularly in the last few holes when it matters. You need strength, power and mobility as much, if not more so, at the end of your round as at the beginning. Throw in the ability to handle the pressure of needing to make putts and big shots in tense situations, and that’s why we train hard.
What other physical attributes do you need as a top golfer?
I would say more than the physical attributes, you need a good and positive mindset. You need belief. You need to be dedicated. I guess that’s the same in all sports.
This will be your 10th year as a pro. What are you looking to achieve on the course in 2019?
Every year I aspire to win. I’ve not won a tournament since 2012, so getting into the winners’ circle is my main goal.
You were the youngest Scot to qualify for the Ladies European Tour, and you’re a two-time winner on tour too, but how hard is it to stay at the top?
Well, it’s been six-seven years since I won, so I’m finding it really hard! But look at some of the other players around the world struggling to win, people like Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy; it’s so hard to get to the top, and just as hard to stay there. There are just so many talented athletes out there looking to achieve the same as you and I think you just have to find your way. That’s just the way it is. Every athlete wants to be at the top and only a handful can get there.
Do you do anything to work on the psychology side?
I’ve done a bit of profiling recently, to work out what I need, and that’s given me some good information. I think some of it is how you help yourself and it’s as much about being happy away from the golf course as much as on it.
You had a tough year on and off the course in 2018. What have you learned from last year?
I think when things aren’t going too well off the course they can really affect your game on it, so I think putting a lot of issues behind me will be a weight off my shoulders. I need to not be so hard on myself; I sometimes take things too personally, so this year I’m trying to relax and enjoy myself a bit more, stop stressing over everything!
Carly features on our “Train With” feature on BESTFIT TV teaching us some essential moves to improve your game. Watch it Monday nights on Free Sports channel.