Gemma Dryburgh has told bunkered.co.uk that she hopes the Rose Ladies Series can become a regular fixture on the calendar as the innovative circuit prepares to break new ground for women’s sport this week.
This week’s event, the series’ fourth, will make history as the first-ever professional ladies’ tournament to played at Royal St George’s.
But for the COVID-19 pandemic, the iconic Kent links would have been gearing up to stage The Open Championship next week. Instead, it will welcome some of the best female professionals in the country, where Dryburgh will be looking to make it back-to-back wins after her victory at The Buckinghamshire Golf Club last week.
The 27-year-old is currently the top Scot on the women’s world rankings but had gone several months without playing competitively due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
With the LPGA and Ladies European Tour still in lockdown – the former resumes next week whilst the latter is scheduled to return with the Ladies Scottish Open in the middle of next month – the game’s leading female professionals were in desperate need of somebody stepping up to support them.
Fortunately, former world No.1, major champion and Olympic gold medallist Justin Rose was on hand to answer the call, much to Dryburgh’s delight.
“He’s got such a high standing in the game and is such a good role model that, when he does something, I think people are more inclined to take notice,” said the Aberdeen-born pro. “Having his name attached to the series really gives it that bit more prestige.
"I actually met him in the States some time ago when I was playing in a pro-am and he was good enough to stop to take a picture with my team and I. He was just so accommodating and nice to us, very much as he seems on TV and in interviews, so in some ways it’s no surprise that he’s the one to step up and support us. Hopefully, others will follow his example.
“It definitely feels like women’s golf is going in the right direction at the moment and this series is certainly helping with that. It’s getting good coverage, the fields are strong, the courses are excellent. It's been incredible and nothing but positive.”
The Rose Ladies Series, it is fair to say, has caught the public’s imagination in a way that other women’s golf tours and events have struggled to in recent years. That’s just one of the reasons why Dryburgh hopes it won’t be a one-off.
“It would be a shame to stop it after this year and there not be any continuation of it next year,” she said. “I don’t know how they would fit it in. The summer might be quite hectic but maybe they could do it in at the start or end of the year, depending on the weather. It has built up so much good momentum that it would be great to see it continue.
“The kind of tournaments we’ve been playing in on the series probably wouldn’t get anything like the kind of coverage that these events have, so that’s been good to see. I think we deserve more coverage in general so hopefully this will help generate more interest going forward.”
The series has also come along at a time when many of those playing on it will have been worrying about cash-flow and perhaps facing up to prospect of seeking other employment to tide them over.
Dryburgh has managed to avoid such problems but sympathises with those who have.
“I’ve managed to be okay but I think that if it went on any longer it would become a bit of a struggle,” she said. “Thankfully, my parents are very supportive and I still live with them so, luckily, there’s no rent or bills to pay. I’ve been quite fortunate that way but, for sure, I know that some of the girls haven’t been as fortunate. Thankfully, things look they’re going to be starting up again in the next few weeks and we can, hopefully, get back to some sort of normality.”
The Scot took a huge leap towards restoring normal service by winning at The Buckinghamshire last week – a victory that was special in more ways than one.
“It was great to get the win,” she added. “I hadn’t won in just over three years so it was nice to finally get it done. My dad, John, was on the bag, which made it extra special and it was his wedding anniversary that day, too, which made it a bit of a double celebration.”
Now, it’s onto Royal St George’s this Thursday, where Dryburgh will attempt to secure back-to-backs wins.
“I’m really looking forward to it,” she said. “I’ve heard they’re going to have it set up similar to how they would have had it for The Open, so I’m expecting it to be tough. It’s pretty special to have the opportunity play there and actually quite amazing that such high-profile courses have signed-up to support us. Again, that’s just another example of how great this whole thing has been.”