By Lewine Mair
Justin Rose was “blown away” when Paul McDonnell, his best friend and the UK agent for Excel Sports Management, rang him with the news of the LET’s new schedule for 2021.
“We were all set to start sorting out a second Rose Series for the girls if they needed it,” McDonnell said, “but now it’s looking as if their requirements are a bit different. The emphasis today is on giving them some one-day events in April so that they can get warmed up ahead of the LET’s official start in May.”
Kate Rose explained that the couple’s priorities for this year had been no different from last year. “Last year, it was never our intention to hand over a £35,000 donation and move on,” she said. “Our aim then was serve as backup at a time when the LET girls weren’t playing and all the other tours were. It felt very much as if it was the right idea at the right time – and it worked for everyone. Now, a full Rose Series is not needed and, though I’m going to miss the buzz, the new LET tour adds up to the best of news and we’d like to congratulate everyone concerned.”
Liz Young, the LET player who started last year’s series off when she organised a one-day event for her sister players at Brokenhurst Manor, her home club, says 2020 was barely over when she started to get whispered enquiries from friends asking if it would be too much to expect the Roses to step in again. Young spoke to Kate Rose at that point and was told at once that if it didn’t interfere in any way with what the LET had planned, they would be happy to help.
"It felt very much as if it was the right idea at the right time – and it worked for everyone."
From the clubs which took part in 2020, only one asked not to be involved again this season, and that was Royal St George’s which has the little matter of an Open Championship on its hands.
“What they went on to say,” continued Young, “was that if there’s ever another Rose Series, they would like to be a part of it, which is wonderful.”
All eight clubs talked of how much they had enjoyed hosting the women and, in the coming weeks, McDonnell and Young are acutely aware of the need to show these venues the respect they deserve by not upsetting members who might only just be back playing themselves.
Even if there might not be enough room on the calendar for all the clubs who are ready for more, no-one would be surprised if one or two of them were to end up with a full-scale LET event at some point. Dame Laura Davies, for one, was suggesting that what the Roses did last year might one day lead to a full-scale LET Rose tournament in England.
McDonnell is not expecting to get the same big-name fields for the April events as appeared last year because Charley Hull, Georgia Hall and Bronte Law probably will be in the States.
“It was great to have them, but we long ago decided that the most important thing this season was to get more girls playing,” he explained.
Young, meantime, has other business on her hands apart from being an organiser-cum-player. She won a Sports Marketing Surveys scholarship at the end of last year, which was designed to support the Rose Series player who needed a helping hand to prepare for the 2021 LPGA Q-Series.
“I’ve been working hard on my short game,” she said. She saw that as “a must” after playing alongside Hull in the Rose Series event at Brockenhurst, where Hull beat her with a birdie at the first extra hole before she, Young, hurried back to organise the prize-giving.
“On the day I played with Charley,” she said, “I asked myself what she did better than me, and it was blatantly obvious that her short game was sharper than mine.”
In celebrating the new LET circuit, Young said the Justin Rose name had definitely helped the LET get where it is today.
“So many people got involved because of Justin,” she said. “American Golf came on board as sponsors, and there was no end to the publicity given to the LET.”
In keeping with which, every time it came to the Q&A stage at the end of the Zoom conferences the 2013 US Open winner did for his sponsors in the winter, there always were a few questions about the women.
“Justin himself was always giving us a boost in his media conferences on the PGA Tour and then, would you believe, his caddie always wore a Rose Series hat,” Young said.