25 Jan 2024 | Women and girls |
AGF scholarships transform the WAGC
by Golf Australia
The AGF Junior Girls Scholarships were the catalyst for significant change at The Western Australian Golf Club in Perth.
The Western Australian Golf Club has a proud history of supporting its junior golfers, but with the help and guidance of Golf Australia and the funding support from the Australian Golf Foundation, the club has taken this to another level with the addition of the Junior Girls Scholarship Program.
When the program was released to the golf industry in 2021, Golf Manager Nicole Martino saw the opportunity to add a girls-only activity to the already strong list of junior programs offered by the Perth Golf Centres (PGC) team of PGA Professionals.
Whilst the opportunity still exists for junior girls to enrol in PGC coaching clinics, the AGF Junior Girls Scholarship program provides a pathway for the girls to move from junior clinics to junior membership.
With strong support from the club’s board and match committee, who play an active role, the program has gone from strength to strength. One scholarship holder, Jade Wilkins, credits the program to keeping her involved in the game. “If it wasn’t for the girls scholarship program, I would have stopped playing golf,” she said.
Golf Manager Nicole Martino said: “I have a 10-year-old daughter myself and I can now see how important programs like this are to foster friendships and nurture bonds. The girls have fun, they chat about all sorts of things like what snacks they’re going to have when they play or what they’re going to wear; their energy and enthusiasm is infectious.
“But what I’m most proud of is that the group share in each other successes and support each other when it doesn’t go as hoped, they truly are growing together.”
The pennant experiment:
The Western Australian has tried to integrate the girls into club life as much as possible, with Golf WA junior pennant a key part of this.
It’s a great stepping stone for juniors to learn the matchplay format and test their skills in a competitive environment. Plus being a team competition, it complemented the outcomes the club was seeking such as friendship, comradery and building a supportive environment.
In 2021, WAGC had just one junior girl playing pennant in a mixed team with another club. In 2022, with the start of the girls scholarship program, WAGC was able to field its first junior girls pennant team and in 2023, the girls went on to win the Division 2 flag!
The team photos from 2022 and 2023 now hang proudly in the women’s locker room next to all other winning women’s pennant team photos. The girls were also invited to the women’s annual pennant dinner and presented with their awards in front of 80 female members.
The women love having the girls attend, to see the younger members coming up through the programs and begin to participating in club competitions and events. The program is really setting a solid foundation and puts the club in a great position moving forward. The pennant story also shows a great example of the growth of the program with how the older girls have transitioned out when they turned 18 years old.
Ruby Fry jumped at the opportunity to Captain the girl’s pennant team this year as the non-playing captain and in 2024, after pitching for the job, Kaela Barnes and Heidi Pearce, who both now work for the club in different golf-related roles, will be joint non-playing team captains.
A role traditionally held by the women’s vice captain is now safely in the hands of graduates whose primary job is to hand out the lollies and pump the girls up for a win! a
Additionally, our now 18-year-old graduate Heidi Pearce won the 2023 WAGC women’s club championship, a brilliant reward for all her hard work on and off the golf course and a feat that will inspire the other girls.
How it works:
PGA Member Matthew Wolfe has coached the girls the program from the beginning and is excited to lead the program again in 2024.
The girls scholarship program provides the girls with junior membership of The Western Australian Golf Club, 24 coaching sessions per calendar year split across the four school terms, access to the golf course outside of coaching sessions, the opportunity to join junior pennant trainings and be in the WAGC Junior girls pennant team and an invitation to attend the annual women’s pennant dinner.
With the success of the girls program and the confidence that it will continue to grow, the club is actively working to grow its offering to junior members.
In December, the Junior Summer 9s program was launched as an initiative to get junior members on the golf course with other like-minded juniors.
The key objectives are to teach the juniors how to register and play in a club competition, record scores to gain a handicap, learn rules and etiquette and meet other juniors.
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