IN these harsh Covid-19 times across Australia, golf in all its forms – private and social club memberships, public course participation and those people who would normally be travelling throughout the country or overseas, are turning to golf.
This is particularly so in Western Australia which, according to Golf WA CEO Gary Thomas.
The State has seen a massive growth in memberships and playing opportunities for golfers of all ages and genders and becoming the envy of many other jurisdictions in other parts of Australia, which many are under lockdown restrictions during this pandemic.
Melville Glades Golf Club, located in the southern suburbs of Perth, has taken this positive opportunity to seize this momentum for the sport and at the same time enhance its ‘gender neutral’ position on membership to advance Golf Australia’s Vison 2025 strategy, by encouraging women and girls to get into golf.
Having secured a grant from the WA Golf Foundation, MGGC is making an effort to entice more female golfers to play the game having introduced golf clinics over 15 weeks to learn all the facets of the game, with the ultimate prospect of increasing its female membership base.
The first of these clinics started in May at the picturesque bushland-setting course with three clinics conducted weekly by club professionals from the Matthew Sturmer Golf Academy, which includes assistant teaching pros Luke Gerrard and Jake Vigor.
“The response by the local females was nothing short of outstanding,” said club vice-president Ken Norquay.
Hoping to attract up to 20 participants through social media and promotion through its existing members, the response to the first five weeks of the subsidised clinics ($33 pp) was overwhelming with 36 females signing up within days.
The clinics were broken up into five-week sessions, a beginner 1 class, followed by beginner 2 and the final session was for intermediate players, who would progress to playing on the course rather than just the driving range, putting and chipping greens.
Of the 36 who started, 34 signed on for the beginner 2 course and the demand has been so great that an initial waiting list from the first session has been created adding another 14 people involved in two extra clinics per week.
Norquay, who also heads the membership and marketing committee for the club, confirmed the response had wildly exceeded expectation.
“We thought we would attract mothers of school age children, high school students and those women who worked Monday to Friday (Sunday clinics), however within days of advertising we were inundated with enthusiastic females looking for an inexpensive opportunity to learn the craft”, he said.
The MGGC lady members are doing their part in welcoming the clinic participants, offering loan equipment and introducing the participants to other lady members by enjoying a coffee in the clubhouse after the clinics to get-to-know others within the club.
As they progress to playing on the course in the intermediate session 3, a group of ladies have offered to “buddy-up” and show the new aspiring golfers the course etiquette requirements that are so important in the success of any golf club and maintaining care for the course and surrounds.
The ‘Women and Girls – Give Golf a Go’ program has been a tremendous initiative and is clearly a much-needed opportunity for introducing more females into the sport.
Melville Glades has arguably the best practise facilities in Perth, with its driving range, two putting greens, a bunkered chipping green and a short 85m pitching tee-to-green, a recent addition to the club’s facilities.
Time will tell whether this initiative translates into new members for the Club – notwithstanding, the majority of participants will have an appreciation of the game even if it is to play socially in and around the public courses within Perth and the regions.