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  • Alistair Tait

Don't you just love English Roses?

Well done Justin and Kate Rose. The couple’s decision to launch a Rose Ladies Series is just what the game needs. It’s no surprise though. The Roses are a class act.

As The Daily Telegraph reports today, the Olympic champion and wife Kate are backing a series of seven tournaments to help British women professionals get back into competitive mode after the coronavirus shut down the Ladies European Tour.

The series starts with the Brokenhurst Manor event on June 18th, which LET professional Liz Young and Brokenhurst professional Jason McNiven created. It includes a stop at Royal St George’s, which was supposed to stage this year’s Open Championship.

Justin tells The Telegraph the decision to launch the series comes from his own experience starting out as a tour professional. The Englishman missed 21 consecutive cuts on the European Tour before he found his feet. Rose says:

“I had some dark moments and I had to face some difficult questions whether I was going to be good enough. I was close to – but never really at – the point where I had to question if I could carry on, but I was close enough to that where I could imagine the situation that people [women] find themselves in where they have the same passion and dreams that I had.”

Rose was the same class act during that dark period as he is now: he never once ducked an interview or got angry even though he had to answer the same questions repeatedly. (On a personal note, Rose has never refused me an interview and still calls me by my first name: a proper professional.)

“You cannot distinguish between men’s golf and ladies golf. The dreams are same from the outset but it is the opportunity and the platform that is skewed.”

Rose has realised his dreams. He has a replica of U.S. Open trophy in his cabinet from his 2013 victory at Merion. It takes pride of place alongside his gold medal from the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.

Kate Rose knows what it’s like to have sporting dreams. She was European champion as an acrobatic gymnast in 1992. Justin tells The Telegraph:

“Gymnastics is a sport where the light is shone equally on the men and the women. For her it is equally frustrating to see that the ladies’ game is not necessarily promoted in the same way as the men’s,” says Justin.

Kate adds:

“Women in sport in general and not just in golf but across the board have been having a struggle, as have many people through Covid-19. It is so important for the mental health of the female pros to get back to work and see their colleagues again. We are very happy that we can do our bit because of the life golf has given us.”

Justin might not have his Olympic gold medal if not for Kate. She was a key influencer in persuading her husband to take part in golf’s return to the Olympic family after a 112-year absence.

Watching the top women professionals play has not been easy for English golf fans. As former Ladies European Tour professional Sophie Walker points out:

“There hasn’t been an English Open since 2008. There hasn’t been a Ladies European Tour event in England since 2015. There are 48 English members of the LET and no events in England.”

There have been two majors, the Women's British Opens of 2016 and 19, in England in that time. Both have been held at Woburn Golf Club, where I’m proud to be a member. Woburn has arguably done more over the years to help promote women’s golf than any other British club, staging the Women’s British Open on 11 occasions, and the Ford Ladies' Classic 13 times.

The dearth of English tournaments is strange when you consider English players accounted for a third of last year’s successful Solheim Cup team – Charley Hull, Georgia Hall, Jodi Ewart Shadoff and Bronte Law. These women are fantastic role models for young girls. Hall, the 2018 Ricoh Women’s British Open winner, became an R&A ambassador last year to help the R&A’s Women in Golf Charter create a more inclusive golf culture and attract more women and girls to the game.

Add Meghan MacLaren and Mel Reid as great roles models in English golf. They are leading the fight for equality for the women’s game.

Moreover, England has produced many LET winners over the years in Laura Davies, Alison Nicholas, Trish Johnson and many others.

Hopefully the Rose Ladies Series spearheads a resurgence of women’s tournaments not just in England, but throughout Europe.

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