WHEN it comes to Castlecove Golf Club, if the cap doesn’t fit … then try on another one.
At least that’s the case for long-serving club manager AND head professional at Castlecove, Kate Macdouall.
After serving as head professional at the popular nine-hole course, Macdouall was appointed club manager in 2018 as well.
And to say she has turned the club around is under-stating her efforts at a club that has tasted the highs and lows over the years.
While the dual roles carry a heavy workload, Macdouall will admit she enjoys the variety of tasks during her normal week.
That includes giving lessons and clinics through to running the members’ comps, dealing with social players as well as the day-to-day running of the Castle Bar and the club in general.
Kate Macdouall is ‘home’. She grew up on the Northern Beaches of Sydney, playing her junior golf and ultimately completing her traineeship at Wakehurst Golf Club.
About four years ago, the club gave the Castle Bar a facelift, making it more modern and also more inviting.
While that has kept members coming back to enjoy a beverage after playing, Macdouall admits Covid-19 has been kind to Castlecove.
“Since the most recent lockdown, which began at the end of June 2021, we have signed up more than 100 new members and about 25 per cent of those have been junior members,” she said.
“Members’ competitions are now at record numbers. While we are not at the point of a waitlist for members’ applications just yet, that is the goal though.
“In terms of public play, I made the decision during the first lockdown in April, 2020 that we wouldn’t take bookings to play socially here.
“So, during this most recent lockdown, if you decided in the morning that you wanted to play golf, you could come down and join the queue.
“Most courses in our area were booked out three to four weeks in advance.
“This approach worked really well for us and while it required some extra staff, in the end it was worth it.
“We never had any dead time on the tee, singles were put together and everyone knew that they may have to wait (most Fridays it was a 30-minute wait), but they would get a game.
“We usually had two or three staff on at all times, one in the shop, one managing the social distancing in the queue and on the first tee and another marshalling the course ensuring that all the Covid rules were being adhered to at all times.
“We have several roads bordering the course, making us very visible to locals driving past.”
Historically, Castlecove has always boasted exceptional greens, but Macdouall admitted that back in April they were nothing to be proud of.
Enter their new course maintenance contractors Ground Solutions Australia with Daniel Studders at the helm.
“What Daniel, Marc and their team have achieved over the past five months was nothing short of a miracle,” said Macdouall.
“Following the green renovations in early September I am able to say that we are 99 per cent back to our greens of old and I can only see them getting better and better.
“It doesn’t stop there, the whole course is sparkling. It’s just a joy to see that with the right team, and great communication, the course is reaching its potential as the best nine-hole course in NSW … there I said it.
“We have started upgrading some of our tees that were ‘worn’ during the lockdown and I am so excited to see that as a result of our course doing well, we are able to give back to the members and loyal social players by way of making our great course even better.
“We have extended our practise putting green near the car park.
“Daniel, Marc and a bunch of our wonderful members transferred all the cores from the greens during renovations and we have tripled the size of what was a two-person putting green.
“We have also installed a nursery green between holes eight and nine which doubles as a second ‘chipping’ green.”
Macdouall boasts that Castlecove has the best members and regular social players – and that’s what keeps her turning up every day.
“We are a welcoming and friendly bunch,” she grins.
“This was no more evident than during the lockdown period.
“Sometimes there was a 30 to 60-minute wait on the first tee and everyone was happy and friendly, chatting with and encouraging each other.”
Macdouall said Sydney’s ‘lockdown’ was both a challenge and a blessing for the club.
“Being a nine-hole course, we were limited to time slots available during competitions, especially when we were playing in groups of two,” she said.
“While there was no official shared tee times with other clubs, players could call on the day of a comp and, if there was an available spot, they could play.”