Rosie Belsham, the youngest ever winner of the Northumberland Ladies County Championship tells Dean Bailey about her busy summer schedule, her national ambitions and plans for her golfing future
For every top amateur golfer, the English summer can be a long haul – just ask 15-year-old Rosie Belsham.
She became the youngest-ever winner of the Northumberland Ladies County Championship in June, a win she says she is still receiving congratulations for.
“I hadn’t realised how big the county championship win was until I started getting cards and messages from clubs all around Northumberland, which have been fantastic. I’m so proud to be a county champion,” she explains.
Rosie followed her win with a trip to Northern Counties Ladies Match Week – a five-day, 10-round marathon of foursomes and singles matches played in Morecambe in stormy conditions.
When we meet at her home club, Whitley Bay, she has just returned from Match Week – having also taken in a trip down to Bristol for the English Schools Championship on the way home.
“It’s been a long couple of weeks and I’m pretty tired,” admits Rosie, who leaves Whitley Bay an hour later to play the opening round of Morpeth’s club championship.
“Match Week was really tough and I didn’t play well in Bristol having played so much golf recently,” admits Rosie. “Apart from that, my golf is going really well right now. I’m definitely the most confident I’ve been going into events.”
At Match Week Rosie partnered close friend Jess Baker on the opening day, having beaten her in the final of the county championship just a couple of weeks earlier.
“I play a lot of golf with Jess and we’re really competitive. I was on a mission to beat her in the county championship final after she beat me earlier this season. I had to show her what I’m really made of,” laughs Rosie.
Her father Chris and mum Gina, who are also members at Whitley Bay, introduced Rosie to the game in the back garden at home before watching their daughter progress through Junior Tour events aged nine and on into the county and England systems. They travel with Rosie to her matches and competitions and she is very happy to have her parents on the road with her.
“It’s great having my mum and dad at all my events. I like travelling with my dad as I can get what I want,” laughs Rosie, with Chris by her side and ready to drive her up to Morpeth later that afternoon.
Rosie is part of a Northumberland team filled with top teenagers and players in their early 20s as well as many experienced players.
“I play most of my foursomes matches with Claire Brown and she is amazing to play with. I played her in the semi-final of the county championship. I first played against her a few years ago in my first ever matchplay game in the county championship and playing with her since then has helped my golf so much.”
Coached by Matfen Hall’s JJ Vallely, whose stable includes a who’s who of leading northern-based female amateurs, Rosie is aiming to catch the eye of national selectors this season and make her way into the full England squads. Having beg
un working with JJ aged 12 as part of the England Futures system, Rosie says she is playing her best golf ever having reduced her handicap to three and found a big improvement in her short game early this season.
“Working with JJ has been really good and we’ve done a lot with the England sessions on the mental side of the game which has helped me improve so much. Understanding that everyone has bad days and learning how to still get the most out of each round has been really important.
“There are a few big events to come this summer, like the English Girls and the Champion of Champions at Woodhall Spa, and I’m really looking forward to getting out onto the national stage.
“I want to get my name out there for next year when I’ll hopefully be knocking of the door for the England teams,” adds Rosie.
Further ahead, Rosie hopes to make it to the Ladies European Tour and has already begun laying out her route to the paid ranks.
“I’ve got my GCSEs next year and I’d love to go to America on a golf scholarship after doing my A Levels. I’ve spoken to a few people, including Sally Hinton at Close House and Garrick Porteous’ mum Sian, about the scholarships and people are really positive and have given me a lot of help.
“My dream is to turn pro and play all over the world and I just need to take each step as I get to it and keep working hard and improving.”
For now, it’s back to a busy golfing summer and a trip to Morpeth.
After that, we’ll just have to wait and see.