People are funny, tell them they can’t do something and all they want to do is that exact thing. Jessica Ross is no exception.
The Covid pandemic was good for golf and the benefits of the resulting boom are still being felt. For Ross, the 2020 lockdown helped refuel her love of golf after she had to put it on the back burner following a hectic work schedule.
A chemical engineer with Astra-Zeneca, Ross had understandably been heavily preoccupied during the pandemic and in the years prior to the world shutdown which saw her enjoyment of the game drain with each passing year.
Suddenly an amateur career that saw her win the Ulster and Leinster Strokeplay titles in 2019 was all but over for twelve months or so but she soon caught the bug again after golf returned post covid.
“Before covid I had five years of uni and then five years of working, then after a year or two of working I was a bit run down having worked long hours and then trying to practice in the evening sort of took its toll,” explained Ross who finished university at the end of 2018.
“Then during covid you couldn’t play golf and it felt like an outlet to be able to go and play again.
“It was really nice to have golf there when I needed it. It was great to have it as a break from work for me so I think that’s what got me back into it, when you couldn’t play golf you obviously wanted to play again.”
The 28-year-old mid amateur has bounced back with a vengeance this year and her terrific form has earned her a first Irish call up for four years for next week’s European Team Championships in Finland from 11-15 July.
“Looking forward to it for sure, I think it’s four years since I last played at the European Team Championships so I’m excited for the week ahead, we have a strong team so hopefully we will get a good result.
“It’s great to meet everyone and mix with the men’s team and have good comradery. Myself and Beth are doing it for Ulster! It’s a great honour so I’m delighted to be back on the team. Everyone on all four teams have had great years so hopefully we take the form into the championships and have a good result.”
Although she is back enjoying her golf, balancing an intense workload with her golf continues to be a challenge for Ross who was surprised to be named on the Ladies team alongside Sara Byrne, Beth Coulter, Mairead Martin, Kate Lanigan and Anna Foster – all full time amateurs.
“I guess I wasn’t thinking too much about teams this year but my season has been very solid and I’m happy with how it’s gone. I work full time so it’s nice to be on the team and representing the mid-ams! I’m a chemical engineer and I work in pharmaceuticals, it’s very busy recently but it’s good and it’s nice to have golf there as an outlet for me to get away from it all.
“I knew I was playing well heading into the summer, everything has been going well I wasn’t doing anything wrong but I have been shocked at my consistency to be honest.
“I use my annual leave to the maximum! Work are very nice to me, I guess I practice mostly in the evenings and at weekends and then I use my annual leave for tournaments. It’s nice to have the break from work going to tournaments it’s like a mini break in itself so from that side it’s good.”
While Byrne and Foster have impressed on the LET Access Series, Ross has her own professional start to look forward to later this year at the ISPS HANDA World Invitational at Galgorm Castle having won her second Ulster Strokeplay at her home club Clandeboye.
“I had a lot of friends and family out supporting me so it was really nice to get a win at home in front of them, it was nice,” said Ross who lost out in a playoff at the European Mid-Amateur Championship in Italy.
“It was great, I thought I would probably be too far back going into the last round and I shot one-under in the last round and I was shocked to be in a playoff. I caught an unlucky break with my tee shot which took me out of contention on the playoff hole, it was great to have all the support from home so it was good.”