06 Jun 2023 | Clubs and Facilities | Industry news |

A shake-up for the grand, old game

by Martin Blake

Briony Wandin-Thomas image
Briony Wandin-Thomas at Club Mandalay where she is making an impact.

Briony Wandin-Thomas, one of the keynote speakers for Golf Australia’s Women and Girls in Golf Careers Showcase Victorian pilot, is a recent arrival on the golf scene.

But she has taken the game and given it quite a shake.

Wandin-Thomas, 25, is the hospitality manager at Club Mandalay, a public course just north of Melbourne, having previously worked at Rich River Country Club on the Murray, starting out as a waitress in the restaurant and ultimately running the café at that facility.

Back in her time at Rich River, she also spent time working on the greenkeepers’ staff, running the mowers and raking bunkers.

It’s fair to say the golf bug has bitten her despite the fact that she is the first person in her family to take any interest in the game.

“I fell in love with golf when I was working on the greens,” she says. “And when I came back to Melbourne and went to Mandalay, I started to feel comfortable around the game. I got to know the ling and understand what golfers want. It was around that time I started to think: ‘I’m going to give golf a go’!

“It’s addictive, and I love to learn. I was into dressage and horses before, and I immediately picked up that there is no perfect in golf, the same as in dressage. I’m always looking to learn and always looking for a better way. And in golf, you only have to rely on yourself.”

At Mandalay, Wandin-Thomas oversees what amounts to a community hub, with residents of the estate having access to the facilities that include the golf course, bar, restaurant, café, swimming pool, gymnasium and multi-purpose room.

Her tasks include running the bar, restaurant and café, driving revenue as the club looks to reestablish itself having been hammered by the pandemic, when the course was closed for extended periods.

More recently she is indulging her passion for engaging with golfers and finding new players, particularly women and girls.

That included a chip-n-sip day for women recently which was highly successful. “When I see the friendships that emerge from days like that, it’s just so fulfilling,” she said. “My passion is engaging women in golf. It’s perceived as a sport that’s male-dominant, but that is a stigma that I would like to break down.”

As a proud Wurundjeri woman, she also dreams of a day when she can engage with more Indigenous people via the game of golf. “That’s another challenge that I’d embrace,” she said.

Register for the Women in Golf Showcase which will be conducted online via Zoom on June 22.

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