One is among the world’s most popular music stars, with 25 million followers on social media, 50 million album sales and six Brit Awards under his belt. The other is an English pro golfer with 524,000 followers on Twitter, a US Open to his name and a Team GB Olympic appearance on the cards. There may be a 13-year age gap between One Direction star Niall Horan and the world’s 10th best golfer, Justin Rose, but they’re steadfastly united when it comes to their passion for golf – and growing the game.
The two joined forces recently to host the Horan & Rose Gala Event at The Grove, raising over £800,000 for CRUK Kids and Teens, Irish Autism and the Kate and Justin Rose Foundation. The following day Horan tweeted: ‘Thank you to everyone who came and played their part in the weekend. @JustinRose99 and I are very grateful’. This message was retweeted 52,000 times, and liked more than 110,000 times. Whether you’re a One Direction fan or not, Horan is an influential and enthusiastic ambassador for the game.
We were given exclusive access to the pair at their event, where we spoke to both about everything golf. Niall told us about playing with the pros, tackling Augusta, why he’s set up his own golf management company and his views on growing the game. Justin opened up about winning Majors, playing in the Olympics, the state of the tour – and why golf is cool again.
What’s it like to win a Major?
In some ways it’s a relief. So many players are looking for a Major, but can’t quite get the monkey off their back, which makes it harder as time goes by. You have those opportunities and there’s a glimmer of hope but it’s very easy to slip up. But I have one under my belt now and view it as a gift. Would I think that I’ve left something on the table if I didn’t get more than one? Sure. If I didn’t win another Major would I be entirely happy? No. But you know what, I’ve got one and as a kid I dreamed of that so you’ve got to be very grateful for it.
Is the US Open the hardest to win?
Hardest in terms of test of golf for sure as it tests every part of your game; the course is set up so extreme and if you have any weaknesses, they’ll be exposed. The fairways are tight, the rough is thick, the greens are small, firm and fast, and the short game conditions are tough. But if that fits your skill set – as it does for me – it plays to my strengths.
When did you first start to play?
When I was a youngster back home in Ireland when I joined my local Mullingar Golf Club. I used to play as much as I could with my friends. We loved it.
You’re even more enthusiastic now?
I love it. I’m obsessed with it to be honest. I have a massive passion for it and I play quite a lot – most of the time at The Grove which is convenient because it’s just 20mins from my home. It’s a good challenging course and they look after me really well down here, all the lads are sound.
We hear you’ve had some golf lessons from Justin?
Yes! It was a real bonus when he said ‘let’s go and break your swing down on the Trackman.’ I was gobsmacked by the facility he’s got down there (at Justin’s home in the Bahamas), and he literally ripped my swing apart.