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Like every player on the Rose Ladies Series, Hannah Burke is incredibly grateful to have the opportunity to compete with the backing of a famous name like Justin Rose behind her.
But, I’ve been noticing with increasing curiosity that on Hannah’s journey through the Series is being supported by a whole team of members from Mid Herts, amusingly nicknamed on social media as “Hannah’s Burkes”.
This left me desperate to find out more and so I arranged to catch up with the Ladies European Tour player just before she dashed out for a practice round at Royal St. George’s.
“Mid Herts was my childhood club and I first joined when I was 12,” she explained.
“Then they made me an honorary member and they’ve become like an extended family to me because they’ve all seen me grow up - I still play with my junior organiser and all the ladies from when I used to be on the scratch team. I know about 90 percent of the membership I’ve been there so long.
“Recently, I’ve been playing a Swindle with them once a week and when the Rose Series started a few members said that they wanted to chip in for some of my entry fees and travel costs. Then more and more people wanted to contribute and it just went from there.”
An amazing 54 members have now donated to support her, raising a total of £2,665.
It’s a heart-warming story and Hannah hopes to run a golf day later in the year as a way of saying thank you to them.
Of course, it’s no secret that many professional golfers struggle with the expense of life on Tour.
But aside from the fact that Hannah is super friendly, down to earth and funny, the Mid Herts members also had an extra reason for wanting to support her career.
It turns out that she was forced to stop working and playing long before the coronavirus pandemic hit.
Just over a year ago she ruptured her Achilles and broke her ankle, leaving her unable to compete for eight months.
“It was very tough. When I first did it the specialists were saying I would need at least nine months to recover. At that point I did wonder if I would ever be able to play again,” she said.
“It was really hard when I couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. I didn’t know if I would be able to walk again never mind play golf.”
But Hannah actually recovered one month sooner than expected.
“I think one of the reasons why I got back so soon was because I had such a good support system behind me,” she said.
“My goal was to be ready to restart the 2020 season and my friend Chris Foster is a PGA pro who only has one leg, so I was going for lessons with him and learning how to play one-legged. I’m not very good at sitting still with my feet up!”
She made a successful comeback in February with two LET events in Australia, but of course it seemed that as soon as she was back and ready to go, the world went into lockdown and she was forced to press pause on her career again.
However, we all know what happened next...
Liz Young, Justin Rose and his team saved the day by launching the Rose Ladies Series and Hannah was soon able to get back out playing.
She returned with a bang too, securing a T4 position at the first event at Brokenhurst Manor.
Plus, thanks to the incredible generosity of her childhood club, she is able to take part in every event without having to worry about finding the money for entry fees and travel expenses.
“Their support is exactly what I needed after my rollercoaster of a year, it makes me feel so much more positive about things,” she said.
“It makes all the physio and hydrotherapy sessions seem worthwhile in the end.”
But while she would love to get one of the top four spots on the Rose Series Order of Merit, she's mainly happy just to be playing at all.
“The courses are absolutely amazing and its great how supported it has been - Liz couldn’t believe how many media wanted to come to the first one,” she said.
“It’s the fact that Justin Rose put his name behind us that means so much, it shows he understands.
“It would be great if we can do this every year – put on some events that we can drive to and give as many women as possible the chance to play. Just the standard of the field shows much a Women’s English Open is needed.”
But most of all, she is thrilled by the steps the women’s game is making.
“I remember going to Royal St. George’s to play in the Faldo Series about 15 years ago and us girls weren’t allowed in the clubhouse,” she said.
“The fact that it is now hosting a women’s event proves that things are definitely changing. We’re all so pleased that they offered to host us.”
With such a compelling story and fantastic positive attitude, it’s not hard to see why Hannah has attracted such a strong support base.
It’s great to see that her hard work and determination is paying off.
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