CHARLOTTE ELLIS is fully focused ahead of her assault on the Ladies Access Series in 2014.
Ellis, from Cockleford and a member of Minchinhampton (New) Golf Club, feels she failed to do herself justice in two years on the full Ladies European Tour.
Twice she fought her way through the brutal Tour School to earn her place among the elite of women’s golf but, having missed out on earning exemption in 2014, she was unable to qualify through Tour School for a third consecutive year.
“I was mentally not in a good place when I went back to Tour School,” admitted 28-year-old Charlotte. “I simply did not want to be there.
“And on the main tour I always felt like a small fish in a big pond.
“I feel I have the ability to compete but last year was a real mental battle.”
Making the leap from being a top amateur – Charlotte topped the domestic Order of Merit in 2010 – has proved more difficult than she imagined, but she is hoping that tackling the ‘feeder tour’ will help her to contest the business end of more tournaments and kick start her professional career.
Her one outing in the Access Series last season, the Costa Blanca Open, provided her one top ten finish on mainland Europe and she is relishing her new challenge.
“I took a few weeks off and I felt lost and down in the dumps over Christmas, but I am enjoying my new training programme and I have just had my first lesson with my coach Stuart Little at Minchinhampton since he got back from his honeymoon in South Africa.
“Stuart is keen that I change my approach to playing tournaments. On the main tour, I tried to control my nerves by treating the competitive rounds as if they were practice days.
“Stuart wants me to get a little more excited – more revved up, I guess.”
The Access Series is much less lucrative than the main tour but there are two tournaments with 50,000 euro prize funds and plenty of opportunities to make a decent living.
The expanded schedule in 2014 takes in at least 15 events in 11 countries from May to October with the possibility of two or three more being added.
Now in its fifth year, the LET Access Series has a heavy Scandinavian bias (six events), which reflects the popularity of the sport over there and the Solheim Cup heroics of the likes of Suzann Pettersen and Caroline Hedwall. But there are three new tournaments in Switzerland, Belgium and the Czech Republic this year – though not a single competition in the UK.
“I will still be writing to the main LET events trying to get invitations,” said Charlotte. “But the main tour starts in Australia, New Zealand and China and does not begin in earnest until May anyway.
“I plan to defend my Roehampton Gold Cup title in April and be ready when the Access Series gets underway with the Swiss Ladies Open in early May.”
Charlotte’s schedule then takes in Sweden (twice), Spain, France, Czech Republic, Belgium, Sweden, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Turkey, France, the Azores and finishes during late October in Crete.
The top five players on the 2014 LETAS ranking list will earn membership of the LET for the 2015 season, while players in sixth to 20th positions will have the opportunity to progress to the final stage of Lalla Aicha Tour School.