GOLF fans and players at the Ricoh Women’s British Open are determined to keep the Olympic party going.
The feelgood factor that has embraced the nation on the back of a golden summer of sport – in the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee year, too – will be celebrated when the world’s best players gather at Royal Liverpool next month.
The Saturday of the four-day tournament – which starts on September 13 – has been designated Best of British day when the off course entertainment will be as diverse as a brass band to a Queen-lookalike.
The players, too, are being encouraged get in on the act by wearing red, white and blue – colours that can be matched by the spectators.
A Beatles tribute band will be playing after the day’s play finishes and for one of the home players in particular, the reminder of the Fab Four will rekindle a host of family memories.
Carly Booth is only 20, but her position at the head of the Ladies European Tour rankings following her two tournament wins this season means she can lay claim to the honour of being Best of British at the moment.
And when she travels down from her home in Perthshire to tee up at Hoylake it will still feel like a home fixture.
Mum Pauline was born in Liverpool and still has family here on both sides of the River Mersey who will be cheering Carly on, while dad Wally actually worked at The Cavern when the Beatles were first starting out.
He later went on to work as a minder for the group and then opened his own nightclub in the city before heading north of the border in the 1980s.
“Dad has so many stories to tell of that time,” says Carly, who scored her maiden Tour win in Scotland before adding her second in Switzerland. “When he was working on the door Cilla Black was working in the cloakroom hanging up everyone’s coats!
“My mum and brother will be coming down to the Ricoh, although dad does not travel too much these days, but it will be great to have some local support.”
Dad Wally says of his time in Liverpool: “The atmosphere was unbelievable. I was one of the youngest doormen and got to know The Beatles pretty well. They used to come to the door for some fresh air, have a chat to us and see if there were any nice birds around.
“If they were playing at New Brighton or Widnes, me and another bouncer would go to keep the crowds back. I was at the Cavern the night Brian Epstein discovered them. They wanted me to be a roadie but I didn’t fancy it.”
As a mad-keen Liverpool fan, it will be no surprise if red proves to be the dominant colour of Carly’s Saturday outfit – and she would love to see a union jack against the name of the tournament winner to carry on 2012’s sporting success story.
“This is definitely the one tournament the home players really look forward to playing in,” she says. “It would be great to see a home winner, but the field is so strong everyone is capable of pulling off a victory so it should be an exciting few days.
“Best of British day is a great idea and hopefully will encourage people who are not just golf fans to come along.
“The Olympics was fantastic – I was travelling a lot of the time so did not see as much as I wanted, but I enjoyed watching Usain Bolt and some of the swimming and gymnastics.
“Once Team GB started winning medals, the story just got better and better and had a real wow factor.”
It is the first time the women’s open has been played at Royal Liverpool – which will host the men’s version again in 2014 – and Carly believes it will provide a great stage for the players.
“I have played the course a few times over the years and it is a great venue,” she says. “A lot will depend on which way the wind is blowing – and the course can be a different challenge every day, depending on the weather.”
Carly’s career has turned round dramatically in the last six months. She turned professional at the age of just 17 after a trophy-laden and record-breaking career as an amateur, aided by the fact that dad Wally – himself a wrestling silver medallist at the 1966 Commonwealth Games – had created his own 15 hole golf course on land at the family farm near Aberdeen.
Initially she struggled to make the impact many had predicted, but this year she scored her breakthrough win on the LET Access Tour and followed up by winning both the Aberdeen Asset Management Ladies Scottish Open and the
Deutsche Bank Ladies Swiss Open.
“I think winning that first tournament gave me the confidence I needed to push on,” she says.
“But I am not putting any pressure on myself for the Ricoh with any expectations of how I will get on – I am going to go there, have some fun, do my very best and see where that takes me.”