ARDMORE, Pa. – Sometimes failure can lead to success.
Just ask Wallace Booth.
Playing in the 42nd Walker Cup wasn’t part of Booth’s plans late last year. Twelve months ago Wallace saw himself earning money on the European Tour. However, he didn’t even get as far as the final stage of European Tour Qualifying School. Booth missed out at stage one.
That’s when the 24-year-old from Crieff, Scotland, switched to Plan B.
“It was a big disappointment,” Booth said. “But I was determined not to let it get me down. I took a long, hard look at my game and I decided I needed to work on certain things to get better.”
He also put the Walker Cup on his list of goals for 2009.
“It was the goal of the season,” he said. “Everything was focused on getting to Merion. I was desperate to make the team. When I got the call it justified all the hard work I’d put into my game.”
Booth is used to overcoming setbacks. His career so far hasn’t always been a smooth ride.
Wallace was widely recruited by college coaches as a boy. He was one of the top juniors in the British Isles when he was 17-18 years old, a billing he lived up to by getting to the semifinals of the 2003 British Boys Championship.
He eventually decided to attend Augusta State University. However, things did not get off to the best of starts. His game went into a slump and he spent a lot of time on the bench in his freshman year.
“That first year was tough,” Booth said. “It was hard being over there and not playing. But I’m not someone who gives up easily. I knew I had to work and improve, and I did. A lot of people stayed very loyal to me and helped me through it, and I eventually turned things around. I’m glad I stayed because college golf was one of the best things I’ve ever done.”
Those years playing college golf should help the 24-year-old play a huge part in helping GB&I try to regain George Herbert Walker’s Cup. Booth is used to the sort of tough, gnarly rough around U.S. greens that awaits any missed iron shot. Most of the GB&I players aren’t used to playing bunker-type shots out of grass next to greens.
“I suppose myself, Chris Paisley and Gavin (Dear) all have an advantage because we played college golf. (Paisley played at Tennessee, while Dear spent four years at Lynn University in Boca Raton.) But this team is very talented. It won’t take the guys long to figure out how to handle the golf course.”
Booth should especially relish the challenge around the greens. Sharpening up his short game was one of the areas of his game he resolved to improve when he missed out on making the European Tour.
“I knew there were parts of my game that needed work when I missed at Q-School,” Booth said. “My chipping and pitching was the most important part I need to improve. I’ve worked extremely hard on that area and I feel as if I’ve improved immensely since last year.”
Only Dear, 25, is older than Booth on the GB&I team. So the former Augusta State player could see a lot of action for the squad. He’s almost certain to team up with Dear. Not only have they played a lot of golf together over the years, but they were part of the Scottish team that won the Eisenhower Trophy last year. They also contributed to Scotland winning the European Team Championships in July.
“Those wins were fantastic for me and for Scotland,” Booth said. “They were big goals too, but this is the biggest. If we win this it will be a great way to sign off my amateur career.”