Kate Rose criticises the BBC’s ‘indifference’ towards women’s golf

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir August 20, 2021 08:15

The founder of the Rose Ladies Series, Kate Rose, has criticised the BBC for failing to give meaningful coverage to the Women’s Open, even though the national broadcaster talks extensively about inclusion and diversity.

Writing in The Telegraph, Rose, whose husband Justin set up the tournament with her, stated: ‘Growing the game means growing it across the board, not only in households which can afford it.

‘So I look at this week’s TV schedule and see the [Women’s Open] highlights are on BBC2 after 11pm. Fine, they are on the red button and iPlayer earlier, but the fact the coverage is being tucked away on free-to-air is a statement of indifference in itself. And, quite frankly, in this day and age, that astounds me.

‘I have written to everyone I can think of at the BBC. I want to meet them, talk to them and understand why they seemingly have something against golf. You cannot find a sport that’s going to demonstrate the BBC’s avowed commitment to equality and inclusivity more clearly than golf.

‘Show me another sport where a young child can play with a grandparent, where the girls and the boys can compete together so easily, because of the handicap system. It’s completely inclusive.’

The BBC’s own charter now has five public purposes, one of which is ‘to reflect, represent and serve the diverse communities of all of the United Kingdom’s nations and regions’ and six values, one of which is ‘celebrate our diversity’, but Rose does not believe this extends to women’s golf.

‘When I wrote to the BBC, I pointed out that at that time the average age of the top 10 female golfers was younger than the top 10 female tennis players. No longer is this an old man’s sport. These young female stars are athletic, inspirational, and they come from so many different backgrounds and cultures. I’m completely baffled why there appears to be a black mark against women’s golf at BBC HQ,’ she said.

Charley Hull of England with the trophy and cheque, presented by Kate Rose, at the Rose Ladies Series 2020 at Brokenhurst Manor Golf Club. Image by Tristan Jones

‘Exposure – that is what female golf needs. What more do we have to do to persuade the terrestrial channels to show women’s golf at times when young viewers can actually watch? If the women‘s Hundred cricket matches can be shown live on BBC2, why not golf? We will continue to seek an answer.’

Rose also detailed the reasons behind the expansion of the Rose Ladies Series (RLS).

‘The RLS was intended as a one off, a stop-gap. Last year, after the initial lockdown, we read an article in the Telegraph and realised women pros had nowhere to play. We wanted to rectify that and did so, but as the series went on, people kept asking, ‘will you do it again, as it’s been so successful?’

‘We waited until we saw this year’s schedule on the Ladies European Tour to see if there were any gaps we could play a useful part in filling. This year, we created another series more spread out across the season, added three more events to make a total of 11, with each tournament doubling the first-place cheque to £10,000. We were also excited to include one of Justin’s sponsors who were keen to create some more excitement with the Slync Slam – a £50,000 bonus pot up for grabs.

‘The expansion has been wonderful but, ideally, we would prefer for the RLS to be redundant. If more tournaments could emerge and more sponsors could come out of the woodwork, we would be delighted for the RLS not to be needed at all.

‘The RLS has found exposure far harder to achieve than we thought. It’s been a real head-scratcher and something new to us. We wanted the series to be seen, but we have had to pay for the TV coverage and because we own it we have put it out on YouTube so that it’s free.

‘It’s great that all these women events are on Sky Sports – and full credit to Sky – but that means we are not growing the game as much as possible, because you’re expecting the women at home and the next generation to be in a position to have a subscription.’

The Telegraph’s golf columnist, James Corrigan, agreed with Rose in a blistering column, stating: ‘When it comes to the BBC’s attitude to women’s golf it has become almost impossible not to marvel at the outrageous cheek and downright stubbornness of director of sport Barbara Slater and her merry band of diversity backslappers.

‘This lot take such pride in talking a woke game until it involves women. And then they revert to gammon status, seemingly displaying a contempt so hypocritical it borders on the sexist and certainly strays deep into the offensive.

‘Last year, the build-up to the Women’s Open at Troon was overshadowed by the release of the TV schedules and the sudden disgust that the corporation was screening its hour-long highlights shows after 11pm. Outrage ensued and not just in the female contingent.

‘Perhaps the most notable voice in the storm was that of Lee Westwood, rising to the defence of fellow pros whose cause had long been overlooked on those golden fairways. The former world No 1 called the BBC decision “an insult that makes no sense”, saying: “The women clearly deserve better.”

‘“If you have the rights to one of the biggest events, then why not put on the highlights at a watchable time – and not after the graveyard shift has started?” Westwood asked.

‘The BBC acknowledged the complaints and performed something of a hasty about-turn by allowing viewers to see the action at 10pm via the red button. Big deal. Yet at least it displayed the willingness to listen.

‘And this week, at Carnoustie, the BBC is claiming to be taking a few enlightened steps further forward by broadcasting the highlights at 8pm. Behind that damnable red button, that is. On the channels proper, it will again be screened after 11pm. Whoops, they have done it again.

‘On Thursday the Women’s Open loses out to ”Yorkshire Firefighters”, while on Friday, an Anne Boleyn series takes precedence, which is slightly ironic.

‘On Saturday, “Top of the Pops 1979” is preferred, with the golf even being snubbed by the red button that night. But hey, who ever watches the penultimate round? Skip forward to Sunday night and a Ruby Wax interview with Donald Trump from the Nineties pushes back the final round to 11pm – yep, more irony.

‘In fact, the ever-excellent Eilidh Barbour will have to wait until Romesh Ranganathan has finished with his “Misadventures”, until she gets to present the drama from the notorious links, with the prize ceremony eventually being aired moments before midnight.

CARNOUSTIE, SCOTLAND – AUGUST 19: Nelly Korda of The United States tees off on the 15th hole during Day One of the AIG Women’s Open at Carnoustie Golf Links on August 19, 2021 in Carnoustie, Scotland. (Photo by Warren Little/R&A/R&A via Getty Images)

‘But then, maybe the BBC is simply embarrassed about its paltry efforts in comparison to last month’s male Open Championship. At Sandwich, in a two-hour nightly shot beginning at 8pm, it fielded a dedicated and glorious commentary team, comprising Andrew Cotter, Ken Brown and Ned Michaels. At Carnoustie it seems Barbour must struggle largely on her own, with commentary provided by the more than adequate but non-dedicated “World Feed”.

‘To say the Beeb is doing it on the cheap is an understatement and it makes one wonder why it is bothering at all. And, more to the point, why is the R&A allowing the Women’s Open to be treated with such disregard? The governing body has done so much in relaunching the British major to elevate its stature and what it plainly requires is a terrestrial partner willing to accelerate this growth.

‘Sky Sports does an incredible job in its wall-to-wall transmissions and the Women’s Open, as well as the rest of the sport, is fortunate to have its patronage. But look further and the BBC is not the only free-to-air gig in town.

‘When the R&A is reviewing the contracts it should take heed of the recent comments made by Jonnie Peacock. Because the great sprinter perfectly summed up the shameless myth of the “all-inclusive” corporation. “If the Paralympics has stayed the way the BBC did it for years, it would never have moved forward,” Peacock told the Radio Times. “Channel 4 is the best in terms of equality, full stop.”’

 

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir August 20, 2021 08:15
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2 Comments

  1. djm August 26, 13:33

    The Guardian rag (the printed version of the views espoused by the Great & Good of the BBC) recently promoted the study that London golf courses could provide homes for 300,000 people. “Courses on public land could be used ‘in a more creative way’ to ease housing crisis and provide accessible green space”

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  2. Peter August 23, 11:02

    Good for Kate !! Anytime we can reach-out to more women, everyone wins !! Broadcasters have a duty to give people, the full picture and Women’s golf coverage is a great way to reach out and engage more !!They also pay closer attention to commercials and control family purse strings !! Guess, they haven’t learned that lesson yet !!

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