Bishop’s Stortford Golf Club member Rebecca Earl attempting to make it onto Ladies’ European Tour at Q-School in Morocco
Rebecca Earl has gone from hating golf to winning a prestigious amateur title, turning professional and attempting to make it onto the Ladies’ European Tour.
Things could have been different if she had stuck to playing hockey, netball and tennis, which she enjoyed as a youngster.
But at the age of 11 – and having grown up in a golf-loving family – she gave it a go, discovered she could get the ball in the air and the rest is history.
Now, having made a name for herself on the amateur circuit and had a hugely successful five-year spell on a golfing scholarship in America, the 23-year-old Bishop’s Stortford Golf Club member is heading to Morocco for the LET Q-School, where around 20 players will earn a tour card for the forthcoming season.
Earl lives in Barnston, near Great Dunmow, with dad Jon and mum Julia, while younger sister Holly lives and works in London.
Once she decided golf was actually for her, the former Felsted School student joined Braintree Golf Club before switching to Stortford in her early teens to be part of the Dunmow Road club’s highly regarded youth section.
“When I was at Braintree I was playing with a lot of boys playing off low handicaps and I was on a high handicap when I started. It’s kind of intimidating,” said Earl.
“Coming here [to Stortford] you mix with everyone. You do play with low-handicappers, but you also play with girls, which makes it more friendly, and there are fun competitions. It’s a good environment.”
Earl’s American adventure got under way in 2018 when she began her golf scholarship – which included studying for a degree in psychology – at Wofford College in South Carolina. The pandemic saw her get an extra year across the Atlantic which she spent at Houston University.
She believes her experience in the USA has made her more mature, both as a person and on the golf course.
“I really loved it [at Wofford] and it definitely changed me as a person for the better,” said Earl, who played off a handicap of +4.1 before turning pro in the summer.
“You have to be so much more outgoing. I was definitely not very independent when I went out there, but you have to be.
“I went to Houston for my final year and that was a whole different experience. It was a lot stronger for golf and I learned a ton there.
“You learn so much from the coaches and get to play on great courses and at great tournaments. You end up learning course management and more of the mental side. You learn a new way of thinking, which is good.
“At college you’re playing for a team so you can’t necessarily go for a risky shot. You’d take a bogey over a double and that kind of thing, so it matures you a lot more.”
She continued to develop her game on home soil when back from college for the English summers, with the major highlight coming in August 2019 when she won the most prestigious trophy a BSGC member has ever got their hands on by being crowned the English Women’s Open Amateur strokeplay champion.
Earl, who was 19 at the time, beat an international field of 144 in the 72-hole tournament at Ipswich Golf Club in Suffolk. Later that year she was named Young Sports Personality of the Year at the Indies community awards.
Then in August this year, she went extremely close to winning the English Women’s Amateur Championship, losing a thrilling matchplay final on the second extra hole. Earl was two up standing on the 15th tee before ultimately being beaten by Ellen Yates at Ferndown Golf Club in Dorset.
At whatever tournament she is at, she knows she has the backing of her family.
“They’re very supportive and just want me to do my best,” said Earl. “They’re proud of me.
“It’s nice because I don’t feel I was pushed into golf like some people are a bit. They can get to 18 and realise they don’t want to do it anymore. I was allowed to do other sports and do what I wanted to do and then I picked up golf myself.”
That support currently includes having mum Julia as her caddy. She was by her side when she came 12th on her professional debut at an event on the LET Access Tour – the level below the full LET – in Spain in October and she will be with her in Morocco for Q-School.
“She doesn’t really tell me a lot of stuff about golf, which is nice. She keeps me steady, really, and it’s nice having someone you know a lot and are close to,” said Earl.
“I’ve never had a caddy who’s not a family member or a friend. I feel a lot more comfortable playing when I’ve got someone I know and knows what to say to me on the golf course.”
Earl will not be asking dad Jon – who recently became a BSGC member having previously played at Braintree – to caddy for her, however, after they agreed it was best they stick to playing against each other rather than working in partnership.
“We play off the same tees and we’re pretty competitive, even now. We played a match over nine holes the other day and we halved,” said Earl.
“It’s more that I outdrive him now, but his short game holds things together. We’re pretty even still.
“We’re quite similar in personality so we tend to argue a little bit more, which doesn’t really help on the golf course. We’ve kind of figured out that it’s best he does not caddy for me!”
Earl flew out to Morocco on December 5, with Q-School running in Marrakech from December 10 to 21.
Around 250 women will take part in a pre-qualifying tournament over three rounds, with those making the cut progressing to a five-round final on two courses.
“I feel it’s time to go to that next level,” said Earl. “I feel pretty ready with all the things I’ve learned over five years in America and the amateur stuff I’ve played here.
“It’s about making the bad shots better and working on my short game to make up for any mistakes.”
Earl has received support from Stortford businesses Stort Blinds and GQ Wealth Management, but would love to hear from other potential sponsors. Email her at email@example.com.