Inci Mehmet – Keeping It Simple
Ladies European Tour professional, coach, analyst, presenter, on-course commentator … not a bad resume for a 25-year-old. But what’s the secret for Inci Mehmet?
“Keeping it simple” is her definitive answer.
Mehmet appeared destined for a stellar career as a professional golfer. Her immense talent was nurtured at Wentworth, where a scholarship was validated when she became the youngest club champion in their history aged only 15. A regular in England squads at all levels, she earned her Ladies European Tour card for the 2017 season via the punishing Qualifying School.
But after just one top-10 finish in two years, a tie for second in the Czech Republic, Mehmet was given the opportunity to open up another skillset in broadcasting, and she is now a regular face, and voice, in the substantial golf coverage on Sky Sports.
“Sky’s coverage is incredible, and I’m proud to be a part of it,” she says. “I don’t watch golf as a fan, I watch with an angle for what I do now. I’m learning the whole time. Being a player making the transition into broadcasting, I was drifting into unfamiliar territory and I was fully aware that I was learning a new trade in front of a live audience.
“Aiming to master new skills under the scrutiny of a live audience has probably been the biggest challenge for me, and expressing opinions has also been tough. You have to have opinions in this job, and I know people are going to judge me on what I say. But I welcome the reaction to that now, bring it on!”
But why the sudden change in career path? Quite simply, Inci felt she had more chance of leaving a legacy as a broadcaster than as a fully-committed professional golfer, something she realised when she weighed up what it would take, and how long it would take, to achieve her initial ambition to be the best golfer in the world.
“That was obviously a long-term aim and would take a few years to achieve. And when the coronavirus pandemic hit, that added a couple of years to my plans and left me unsure about what I wanted to do. As an athlete, you want to be the best and leave a lasting legacy, and it’s a big ask to commit yourself to that aim for maybe as many as 10 years.
“I felt that training and playing and living golf for 365 days a year was a tall order, so I made the decision to go all-in for broadcasting. I took a methodical approach when considering my future, and the opportunity to get into media looked very enticing and appealing. I have seen Henni Koyack make that transition, so that inspired me to give it a crack as well.
“I enjoyed attending a media awards evening recently and spending time with some amazing female broadcasters, many being former athletes themselves and I found them to be truly inspiring. The representation of women in broadcasting has improved significantly in recent years, and I’ve been inspired to follow the lead of so many former athletes in turning to this outlet.”
Mehmet draws further motivation from establishing her place in what has been a male-dominated environment for as long as most golf fans can remember, and she hopes to inspire others to follow suit while also taking notes from those already embedded into the broadcasting arena. “I’ve found tough being on my own for long periods, and that’s particularly difficult when you’re working in a male-dominated environment. It’s great when Iona Stephen is on the team at an event I’m working on, and there’s a few female members on the crew, but I generally look around and see a bunch of 50-year-old men! It’s nice that we get to travel a lot in this job, but it would be nicer to travel and work in more places with a few more girls who are roughly my age. It’s not a negative challenge, it’s just the nature of the beast at the moment and I’m perfectly comfortable, but I would welcome a few more women to socialise with.”
And it’s not just in golf broadcasting where the picture is shifting …
“I had an eye-opening day when I was hosting a clinic at my home club, Royal Mid Surrey in Richmond. There were around 30 ladies who all work in male-dominated environments, like engineering and construction, and they all got together to try golf for the first time. I was coaching them and it was great to see them enjoying something new, and the majority of them were genuinely keen to give golf a real go.
“The majority of members at every golf club are men, so it’s far easier for men to get into golf than women. But the game is becoming a lot more accessible for women, and young girls, thanks in the main to social media and Sky’s coverage.
“Sky’s coverage of women’s sport, and golf in particular, is second to none. They’ve given us regular live ladies golf which is also often available for free on their YouTube channel. It’s made the game far more accessible, and although it may have cost the LET some money in terms of broadcast rights, it’s a sacrifice they felt they needed to make to open up golf for the future generation.”
Inci did not take long to earn herself a reputation as a popular broadcaster, whether in the Sky Studio analysing the swings of the pros, out on the course giving us the key insight from one of the marquee groups of the day, or getting the thoughts from the players themselves when conducting post-round interviews. She has many roles to juggle, but each comes with the same mantra.
“Relatability is something I believe I’m really good at. When I chat with Tour players, the general feedback I get is always positive. I’ve played on Tour, so I have the experience and credibility to talk about the game, whether I’m working on a men’s or women’s event. But my approach going forward is to try and keep things as simple as possible. I want the majority of the audience to understand me with ease when I’m explaining a shot, or a ruling, or a technical analysis.
“I want to appeal to people who are new to the game as well as the ardent golf nerds. I aim to keep it simple, keep it relaxed and make golf – and golf broadcasting – as simple as I can. I’m not into bio-mechanics, I’m not into all these fancy terminologies that many coaches use. It’s not worth over-complicating anything as I feel that can turn people off.”
Assuming she can avoid over-complication as she grows in her various on-screen roles, where does Inci see herself a few years down the line?
“I think I’ll forever be juggling all my current roles as that’s in my nature. I like to do a variety of things and I get bored very easily! My main aim is to just grow within the industry and improve in all areas. Wherever that takes me, I don’t know yet, but my focus is not necessarily on what people can see, but what they can’t.
“I look up to other broadcasters and they are all great communicators, and the best ones always make the complex sound simple. I look at them and try to figure out what makes them so good in their field, and then use that to improve my own skillset. Being a player, you get used to letting your golf do the talking, but talking about the game to an audience is something completely different.”June 16, 2022 9:40 am