LONDON (Reuters) - Former Miss World contestant Ingrid Martens has swapped the catwalk and high heels for knee-high rough and unflattering golf shoes as a Ladies European Tour caddie but the Norwegian would not have it any other way.
There is precious little time for painted nails and lip gloss when she trudges across the fairways of the world carrying the heavy bag belonging to her daughter, 28-year-old Caroline.
“There’s no mother-daughter relationship when we are out on the course,” 49-year-old Ingrid told Reuters in an interview at the tour’s Buckinghamshire Golf Club headquarters on the outskirts of London.
”When I am caddying she is the boss. It works very well, we never fight and she always takes the final decision on picking the right club to use.
“She ultimately makes the decisions after I give her the yardages but I don’t tell her, for example, whether to use a seven-iron or an eight-iron.”
Ingrid certainly does not hanker for the limelight having had her fair share of attention in the past working as a model and as a television game-show host.
”I was once Miss Norway and was in the Miss World competition in London in 1984,“ she said. ”I didn’t win and I probably wouldn’t tell my kids to do what I did but it was a great experience.
”That’s a tough life and I think you should focus on something else other than beauty and your body. I don’t think that’s a very healthy business...it’s a bit of an artificial world.
“I also worked on TV as a game-show host for five years. I gained a lot of experience from that and from modelling in terms of being focused, trying to be strong, not being afraid and I think all that is very important,” added Ingrid.
“I decided after five years I didn’t want to have my face on screen any more. I wanted to be anonymous after being high profile in Norway for so long.”
The highlight of Ingrid’s part-time career as a caddie came when Caroline romped to an eight-shot victory at the tour’s Qualifying School in Marrakech in 2013.
”I was a very proud mother that week,“ she said. ”It was amazing and with about five holes to go I was crying.
”It was tough to hide. I was sniffing and made out I had a cold. After that I said I was never, ever going to caddie for her again because I felt like I was having a nervous breakdown.
“She didn’t know she was winning by eight shots, she knew at the start that she was two behind the leader but on the way round she doesn’t like to look at leaderboards,” explained Ingrid.
“On the last hole she asked, ‘Am I leading?, I said, ‘Yes, you are’. Then she hit her second shot on to the green and that was another very emotional moment.”
Caroline is still awaiting her first regular tour victory and is down in 31st position on this year’s money list having earned the paltry sum of 11,756 euros ($12,776) from five tournaments.
Money is tight, the young Norwegian is searching for a sponsor and when she gets some financial support and hopefully climbs the rankings, it will signal the end of Ingrid’s caddying career.
“I really enjoy it but I think she should have a professional caddie when she’s good enough and I can then just walk around the course and watch,” said Ingrid.
“If she gets on the LPGA Tour, for example, she will have to get a professional. I‘m not going to move to the U.S. unless she pays me very, very well.”
Caroline feels privileged to have her mum on the bag and dreams of qualifying to play for Europe in the Solheim Cup match, the women’s version of the Ryder Cup, against the United States in Germany in September.
”We are very close and I feel stronger when she’s around,“ said Caroline. ”She’s not with me every week but when she is I enjoy it a lot.
”I don’t know if I can get into the Solheim Cup this year but if I do get in she will be on the bag for sure. That will be my reward to her.
“It would be amazing. I get goosebumps just thinking about it. That’s a dream of mine.”
Editing by Toby Davis