ANGLESEA Golf Club general manager Rachel Kane lives in the heart of Geelong footy territory and many of the club’s members are Cats fans, but that hasn’t stopped her splashing Hawthorn memorabilia around her office following the Hawks grand final victory.
“You should see my office window, it has flags, posters and scarves in it,” she enthused.
A staunch Hawks and Melbourne Storm (NRL) fan, Kane, 44, has been at the helm of Anglesea Golf Club for five years after stints at Patterson River Country Club, Amstel and Ranfurlie golf clubs.
Aged 19, Kane joined Patterson River where she worked as a casual bar person, functions coordinator and office administrator.
She then moved Amstel Golf Club to work in administration before being promoted to assistant manager at Ranfurlie Golf Course when Amstel opened the new course and clubhouse across the road.
“I worked at Amstel for 12 years and during that time completed an advanced diploma in business and accounting, which has been invaluable in this industry,” she said.
Kane, who plays off a 24 handicap, loves her job and is well entrenched in the local community.
In many ways, the club is unique in that it gives up its course free to community groups including the Lions Club, Country Fire Authority, Surf Lifesaving Club and the footy club.
“For me, what stands out working in a small regional area is the community support all the sporting clubs give each other,” Kane said.
“We give the course free to a number of clubs and two of those days are Saturdays, which is unprecedented.
“Everybody participates in their golf days to help raise money for the various sporting groups and charities.
“And when we run our pro-am, businesses in the area donate so we can raise money for the EJ Whitton Foundation (prostate cancer research and awareness).
“Because we give up our course, they are only too happy to contribute.”
Kane cites another example of community spirit following a fire that destroyed a storage facility at the back of the clubhouse, which stored chairs and tables.
“The football club approached us and said, ‘if you need chairs and tables, you can borrow them during the off-season’.
“The great thing about working in a small community is everybody pitches in – it’s a lovely experience.”
Like most clubs, Anglesea has to work hard to attract and retain members.
Unfortunately, Anglesea has a small population of around 2300, however, over summer and at Easter, holidaymakers and tourists pour in and the number swells to more than 10,000.
A large percentage of the club’s 1100 members (including social) are Melbourne-based, which is one of the reasons why membership numbers fluctuate.
“Last financial year we picked up 53 new members, but we lost a similar amount,” Kane sighed.
“So you are never really growing. You think your membership drives are working well and then you look at what you lost during subscription period and discover you’ve lost the same number or more.”
Since her arrival at the club, Kane has introduced recognition awards for long-serving members.
“We present bronze, silver and gold bag tags to members with 30, 40 and 50 years’ membership,” she said. “And on their birthday, we present them with a cake and give them a bottle of wine as a thank you.
“There is a really good social atmosphere at the club. We have great staff and the members are always made to feel welcome.”
Kane is always seeking better ways to manage the club and recently attended the Golf Management Australia (GMA) conference in Sydney.
“One of the things I got out of the conference was the importance of leadership, teamwork and communication,” she said.
“There were many fine speakers, but Corporal Benjamin Roberts-Smith (VC Cross winner) got that message across best.”
Not only is Anglesea a popular golfing destination, it also attracts busloads of tourists courtesy of the 200-300 kangaroos that roam the fairways.
“Playing golf here is a quintessential Australian golfing experience because you are playing amongst the kangaroos,” Kane said.
“We try to be tourist friendly, but there is a fine line trying to look after tourists and be mindful of the golfers.
“We can’t have tourists walking all over the course so we are trying to develop a kangaroo viewing area specifically for tourists.”
Over the years, Anglesea Golf Club has attracted plenty of international media attention. In fact, National Geographic will make its third visit to the club later this year.
“This time they are doing a documentary on animals in urban areas,” Kane said.
“We have had the BBC and a number of other international film crews come and visit. It’s a good thing for us because it puts us on the map.”