Few people can claim to have had a more positive impact on women’s sport in 2020 than Liz Young, and Kate and Justin Rose.
When the LPGA and Ladies European Tour seasons were halted by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Rose Ladies Series – a string of one-day events followed by a three-day Grand Final - provided much-needed competitive opportunities for British players.
The series came about quickly, after Kate Rose saw an article in the Daily Telegraph detailing Young’s plan to set up a one-off tournament for fellow professionals at her home course of Brokenhurst Manor, with each player donating £125 to the prize pot.
In an interview with AIGWomensOpen.com, Kate Rose said: “I’m sure there was something in there about them needing some help, it was sort of a bit of a call for help, so I got hold of Liz’s phone number, I forwarded it to Justin, and said: ‘What do you think? I think we should see what help they need.’
“I had a lovely long chat with Liz on the phone … and I said: ‘We’d like to expand it, what would you think about turning it into a series?’ She loved it, totally got on board, and it went very quickly from there.
“We approached a few golf courses, got our ducks in a row, went back to the Telegraph and I think by the end of that week we announced all of the line-up, except for the finale.
“And then out of that next article, people contacted us and were asking to join in, so American Golf and Computacenter were asking how they could be involved as well. It turned into a really positive experience for everybody.”
Although the final day of action at Wentworth was unfortunately cut short by a fire that spread on to the West Course, the overall positives comfortably outweighed the negatives as British players benefited from increased competitive action and exposure.
Charley Hull pipped Georgia Hall to the Order of Merit crown, with Young herself claiming third position in a series that proved immensely popular and beneficial to the players involved.
“I'm pleased to just put a bit of positivity out there.” KATE ROSE
“Our intention was to set up competitive playing opportunities for the ladies and then, as well, provide as much coverage as we could to support their profession, to give some light to what they were doing,” added Rose.
“I felt like we had good partnerships to try and promote ladies golf a little bit more and it turned into a really fun summer series and hopefully a good springboard for them to play their best golf now the LET and LPGA seasons are up and running.
“Hopefully they feel like it has helped them and that’s all we can ask for really. That and the increased coverage they’ve had, hopefully more people might be interested in following them now that the proper tournaments have started again."
In addition to Brokenhurst Manor, Wentworth and Royal St George’s, the venue for next year’s Open Championship, the Rose Ladies Series featured visits to other elite venues in Moor Park, Buckinghamshire Golf Club, JCB Golf & Country Club, Bearwood Lakes, The Shire London, North Hants and The Berkshire.
“It was an A list of English golf courses, and why not? The ladies deserve to play on the best and hopefully that provides the best preparation they could possibly have asked for," Rose continued.
“What was the thing I was most proud of? I think it was just being able to pull it all together. It was totally spontaneous; it was like a spontaneous eruption of good for golf, and ladies in golf. From the moment we read the article to really having most of it dialled in was just a matter of days.
“It just seemed really positive, and after lockdown and after COVID, I feel like people needed to hear about some positivity. I know that’s what I enjoyed the most, the positivity from the golf courses, the ladies, the media, social media, it all seemed to just be really positive. I’m pleased to just put a bit of positivity out there.”
The impact of the Rose Ladies Series could yet grow further, with the potential for one of the players involved to achieve success at this week’s AIG Women’s Open.
“I would be thrilled for any of the ladies to go ahead and win the Women’s Open,” said Rose. “That would be hugely exciting and it might mean the last words written about the Rose Ladies Series weren’t about the fire at Wentworth, but were about the positive impact that was going on.
“If there were to be a Rose Ladies Series competitor go on to win, it would be super.”
Regardless of who triumphs at Royal Troon, there can be no doubting the considerable success of the series.