31 Mar 2023 | Women and girls |
A united front - more Sandbelt signatories
by Golf Australia
Commonwealth, Huntingdale and Yarra Yarra golf clubs have committed to The Charter which was developed to create a more inclusive culture for women and girls in golf and is backed by the R&A and the Australian golf industry.
The Metropolitan Golf Club was the first of the Melbourne Sandbelt clubs to come on board with the initiative, and Golf Australia CEO James Sutherland is delighted that these clubs with rich histories are helping take the game forward.
“We are thrilled to see Metropolitan, Commonwealth, Huntingdale and Yarra Yarra making the commitment to grow golf as a sport for all,” Sutherland said.
“The Melbourne Sandbelt is world renowned for the quality of its courses and the myriad of high-profile championships that have been played on these sites. Sandbelt clubs have always been leaders within the golf community, setting high standards in the way they serve and progress our sport. We commend these four clubs for their example, and for their formal commitment to increasing women and girls’ engagement.
“We strongly encourage other clubs to explore the necessary steps to become signatories to the Charter.”
Huntingdale’s General Manager Alex McGillivray is extremely proud that his club has signed the Charter and is pleased to be a part of a community that is committed to bettering the game for women and girls.
“There is a united voice in golf,” he said.
“We are proud that the Melbourne Sandbelt is leading in this area and hopefully inspiring other clubs, big and small to come on board.”
For the club that has a long history in advancing women’s golf, becoming a signatory has been “business as usual” but with the “ability to fine tune” some areas.
“Working through the Charter has been extremely beneficial,” McGillivray said.
“Whilst we thought we were pretty much a gold star when it comes to equal opportunity; we have still identified opportunities for improvement.”
One area of work is the revision of the women’s committee role using the Golf Australia Terms of Reference (TOR) template.
“This revision has resulted in a committee that is extremely engaged, focused and is clear on its purpose; that is to drive the implementation of the Women in Golf Charter (WIGC) action plan and women’s development,” McGillivray said.
With the support of the board, the committee are focusing on work including:
A mentoring program
Empowering more women into leadership positions
Reviewing all events and competitions to ensure equal playing opportunities.
“It simply makes good business sense and good cultural sense,” McGillivray said.
“With over 50 percent of the general population being female, but clubs only engaging on average 20 percent, of its membership base as women, there is a large untapped market where we can grow golf.”
Just over the road, Yarra Yarra Golf Club is also excited by the possibilities of growth from using the Charter.
“Signing up to the Charter is a public statement to show our club’s commitment to gender equality,” said Meg Thorley, Women’s Captain of Yarra Yarra.
“Every club should think about coming on board.”
Whilst the club is proud of the work it has been doing to make golf a more inclusive sport for women, like many clubs it has witnessed an ageing and declining female membership for some time.
The club acknowledges the importance of encouraging and attracting more diversity, not only onto the course but in the clubhouse as well.
“The Charter has been an excellent tool to drive an inclusive club culture,” Thorley said.
Yarra Yarra club captain, David Meagher, agrees.
“The board is fully committed to the Charter, recognising that it has enabled the club to objectively assess its maturity and have a new starting point to further improve offerings for women and girls,” he said.
“This reflects a stronger alignment with the club’s strategic plan.”
One action the club is working on is revising the role of each working group and committee of the board within its new governance framework.
This includes leveraging Golf Australia’s Terms of Reference (TOR) template so that specific working groups are clear on their overall role, specific duties and required skillset, as well as how they will contribute to the strategy goal of the club to be more inclusive.
“This is an exciting time as whilst respecting tradition, the revision will enable all working groups and committees to help drive future equality actions and make some exciting changes at the club,” Meagher said.
“The Charter has really opened our eyes to all the things a club can do, many simple, that can make playing and participating in golf more equitable. We are excited for our future.”
Commonwealth Golf Club are also new Signatories to the Charter and appreciate the framework that is “effective for change and the promotion of change” at the club.
“The charter is providing a step-by-step and measured process to growth,” said Peter Paccagnan, General Manager at the club.
“Like many clubs, our membership profile was not featuring enough women.
“The Charter is assisting us to develop offerings that best suit modern working woman who want to access golf differently to those of the past.”
The club has recently completed a review of its women’s development program and entry into membership. Through this PGA professional Joanna Flaherty has been appointed full time to manage the program and provide tuition.
“We want to continue to set up processes to ensure better opportunities for women within the club, and investing in resources such as Joanna is part of this,” Paccagnan said.
The adoption of the Women in Golf Charter in Australia provides an excellent opportunity for clubs, organisations and communities to join forces and collectively attract more women and girls to golf.
To submit an expression of interest for your club to become a Women in Golf Charter signatory, please register here.
From there Golf Australia will arrange a brief meeting with your local Golf Australia Regional Development Officer or Clubs and Facilities Support Manager, and the Women and Girls Engagement Team.
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