News & Opinion

Justin Rose pays it forward for women’s golf

Kate Rose and Justin Rose
Kate and Justin Rose will help sponsor the Rose Ladies Series, an 8-tournament tour that begins June 18 in England.

Female pros in the U.K. will have a league of their own, thanks to the generosity of Rose and his wife, Kate, who put up the prize money for the Rose Ladies Series, an 8-week run to begin June 18

These days, it’s easy to be in support of something – almost too easy. A hashtag on social media here, a tap of a photo there, and it all adds up to varying levels of slacktivism.

Justin Rose, the former No. 1 golfer in the world, is putting his money where his mouth is and doing something real.

Rose, along with his wife, Kate, have put up £35,000 (about $44,000) of their own money to start the Rose Ladies Series, an eight-tournament stretch for female golfers in England.

The series kicks off June 18 with an event at Brockenhurst Manor Golf Club. It will run for eight consecutive weeks, through Aug. 6-7. A highlight event will take place July 9 at Royal St. George’s, the storied English club that was supposed to host this year’s British Open, which the R&A canceled in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

Paul McDonnell read a story a few weeks ago that said Liz Young, an English pro who plays primarily on the Ladies European Tour, wanted to create a tournament in which female golfers in the U.K. could stay competitive – with obvious social-distancing measures in place.

“These girls are crying out for golf, and they will do what’s needed to be competitive,” said McDonnell, who is the director of European golf for Excel Sports Management, the same agency that counts Tiger Woods and Justin Thomas as clients. He also manages Rose’s business affairs and will oversee the Rose Ladies Series.

McDonnell forwarded the story to the Roses. Within 10 minutes, McDonnell said, Rose got back to him and inquired about doing not just one event but a series.

“He doesn’t have to do this,” McDonnell said. “But Justin is back playing [on the PGA Tour]. He wants to try to give those ladies a chance to warm up before they go back on tour. It’s amazing they’re doing this out of their own pocket and he’s giving back to ladies’ golf in the U.K. and England.”

Before the first event Thursday – world No. 25 Charley Hull, LPGA Tour winner Bronte Law and women’s golf legend Laura Davies have been confirmed to participate – American Golf, a U.K. golf retailer, announced it would be matching the £35,000 donation from the Roses.

First place at each of the events will be worth £5,000 (about $6,300). American Golf’s contribution will go toward the Order of Merit. Whoever sits as No. 1 after the eight-event series will net a bonus of £20,000 (about $25,000).

“You cannot distinguish between men’s golf and ladies golf,” Rose told London’s The Telegraph newspaper, which initially broke the story about the series. “The dreams are the same from the outset, but it is the opportunity and the platform that is skewed.”

While U.S.-based mini tours continue to play, and the best golfers in the world have returned to the PGA Tour and Korn Ferry Tour, many female golfers were left uncertain about their return.

The LPGA Tour is set to resume play July 31 in Ohio, with spectators allowed on the grounds. But on the heels of this announcement, the LPGA Tour announced the Evian Championship, a major championship, would not be played in 2020. The Symetra Tour is aiming to be back in late July, as well, but it is scheduled to play only nine more tournaments this year, according to an updated schedule that was released Wednesday. The rest of the LPGA Tour’s revised schedule has more questions than answers. There are 19 tournaments left in 2020, but they are to be played in seven countries, with varying levels of COVID-19 travel restrictions.

Still, the players who have been provided this opportunity are ready to get back to work – just like their male counterparts – no matter what the setting looks like.

“In showing his support, [Rose] shows that he understands we work as hard as the guys and we have the same goals,” Bronte Law said in an interview with Sky Sports, which will be broadcasting the series. “That’s sometimes maybe lost because the interest in the men’s game is a lot larger, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t training as hard or working as hard or wanting to achieve the same things they do, but it’s our job to increase the publicity that women’s golf is on the rise.”

Not only is women’s golf on the rise, but with the actions of Justin and Kate Rose, it could begin to thrive, too.

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