10 Aug 2020 | Women and girls |

All-club approach builds effective culture change

by Golf Australia

Northern GC V2025_image
Attracting younger women to golf through the state-based ‘This Girl Can’ campaign. Photo: Northern Golf Club

The Club: Northern Golf Club is situated in Melbourne’s North-West just 15km’s from the city CBD. The 18-hole course is set among beautiful river red gums on over 140 acres of land in the heart of Glenroy. The club is open to members and the public and has a PGA professional and General Manager onsite. The club’s membership base comprises of 814 core members, 13% being female.

Local Demographic: 

  • Population: 22,107 in Glenroy suburb 

  • Median age: 34 (national average 38)

  • Children aged 0-14 years: 17.6% of the population (average 18.7%)

  • People aged 65+ years: 16% (average 15.8%)

  • People born in Australia: 49.2% (average 66.7%)

  • Full-time workers: 55.5% of the population (average 57.7%)

  • Part-time workers: 30.4% (average 30.4%)

  • Median household weekly income: $833 (average $1,203)

Background: Even Par is Golf Australia’s Vision 2025 club education program that aims to enhance the capacity of Australian golf clubs and their leaders to facilitate greater gender equality for their members and community.

This club education program comprises a four-part workshop series and is a key deliverable in Golf Australia’s “Vision 2025: the future of women and girls in golf” national strategy. 

Workshops provide golf clubs with: 

  • A greater understanding of the impact of gender inequality within sports clubs on members, their families and the broader community;

  • The relationship between gender inequality and its impact on health and wellbeing, including the prevention of violence against women; and,

  • The power of sporting organisations to create greater gender equality in the broader community and impact the lives their members and their families and communities.

Clubs are provided with ongoing support to: 

  • Review existing policies and practices;

  • Identify opportunities to create greater gender equality; and,

  • Develop, implement and evaluate actions to facilitate gender equality.

The Story: In terms of creating opportunities for women in all aspects of golf, Northern Golf Club is attacking on all fronts. 

Women’s captain and board member Helen Moloney and fellow member Bev Leyden have been on a mission to stop the decline of female participation in golf for several years. 

“In fact, we already had a female participation committee (previously called women’s recruitment committee) established before reading about Vision 2025,” Leyden said.

“After learning about Vision 2025, we approached Golf Australia to seek advice about how we could enhance the work we were doing and then became part of Even Par. 

“Even Par has given us a clear pathway. It has given us guidance on how to go about certain things and made us (the club) accountable - this has helped us to engage many facets of the club.” 

The club has created an implementation strategy to get more women playing golf and create more opportunities for women in leadership roles within the club.

These focus areas are:

  1. Creating a gender balance in decision making

     

  2. Retaining current female members

  3. Improved female participation pathway

  4. Improved marketing and social media presence for women

This case study outlines the work Northern Golf Club is doing along with challenges, tips and learnings they have experienced.

Challenges and Solutions:

“Because our club is addressing gender equality from many angles, it has been important to connect with people from different areas of our club and delegate tasks,” Leyden said. 

“Our women’s committee is leading the ‘keep in touch’ project to retain members. The decline of weekly participation of members can easily go unnoticed, so we want to ensure we are aware of why someone might stop playing and try to re-engage them.

“We are also creating more opportunities for members to socialise and feel a part of the club. One of our members now organises a monthly winery tour which has been very popular; we have card games following golf on a Tuesday; and another member has started an online blog to share information and foster online friendships.

“All these activities are used to keep our members connected as friendships are what often keep women in the game.”

Many clubs do not have the resources (staff or time) to run an effective social media marketing campaign along with keeping the club’s website updated. To combat this, Northern GC has engaged one of its members with experience in online marketing to assist. 

“We have found that while some women may not have the time nor interest to sit on boards and committees, they are willing to contribute their skills to specific tasks. This has been another great way to get more females involved in our club and working together to achieve our Vision 2025 goals.”

It has not only been club members working on Northern’s Vision 2025 goals, paid staff and external organisations are also involved.

“We have a fantastic front-of-house staff member (Kim) who actively promotes our beginner women’s clinics by displaying information and encouraging any new female face that comes through our doors to get involved,” Leyden said.

The club has also engaged Tamara Mason, female sports participation officer from Moreland City Council to sit on the club’s female participation committee. 

“She has been a wealth of knowledge and it has been really beneficial to foster a close working relationship between council and our club. 

“Our general manager and board are also very supportive of what we do. It is important for our club to have a male champion of change who is in a decision-making position.  In fact, Peter Randles who is our board president and also sits on our female participation committee, advocated to get more women on the club’s board.

“Peter instigated the proposal for two women to be seconded onto the board should no women be elected. This motion was passed and written into the club’s constitution. As a result, one woman (Helen Moloney) now sits on the board. 

“This has been a learning for us, we now need to work on developing a pool of women who feel confident and capable to put their hands up for a board position.”

In a bid to attract and introduce more women to golf, the club aims to enhance its female participation pathway, Leyden said. 

“We tapped into the state-based campaign ‘This Girl Can’ that promotes women and girls getting involved in sport and exercise. We used this campaign to help promote two recent women’s beginner golf clinics.

“We had a wonderful response attracting more than 30 women! We have since added another clinic attracting a further eight women in their 20s! 

“These clinics would not have been possible without the generous support and expertise provided by our head professional Heath Bensted and his pro shop team.”

Now Northern has engaged these women, the club’s next step is to ensure its pathways meet their needs. Questions that will be asked include:

  • What would make you come back?

  • Are you satisfied with our offering?

  • What would you like us to now offer you?

“It is important that we service the needs of our customers,” Leyden said.

“Our current offer includes a get-on-course program (run by our PGA instructor) and a temporary membership to help progress women into club membership.

“This membership ($99 for 3 months or $400 for the year) gives women seven-day course access and has been an extremely successful recruitment tool for us. 

“The introduction of this membership has only gained acceptance over time. It is a heavily subsidised membership and some of our full-fee members were frustrated they could not access this rate.

“But, over time, members have seen the benefits of new women playing and eventually becoming full members. They also really enjoy the vibrancy the new – and often younger – women bring to the club.”

“There has been a lot of positive changes at the club during the past few years, but it all takes time. We are looking forward to seeing more success come from our Vision 2025 and Even Par projects”. 

Learning:

  • It is important to have an all-club approach to create effective culture change.

    • Some people may have a certain skill set they are willing to use to help your Vision 2025 agenda. Create opportunities for people at the club to contribute these skills.

    • Ensure staff at your club and pro shop are informed about female participation opportunities and actively promote these.

  • Tap into external resources such as your local council and state or national campaigns 

  • It is important to not only create opportunities for women to sit on boards, but to empower women to have the confidence and skills to do so.

  • Offer non-golf social activities to help foster friendships and create a social environment at your club. This helps to retain members.

  • Ask your new customers (beginner golfers) what experience and support they are looking for at your club and design a pathway accordingly.

For more information on Even Par visit www.golf.org.au 

Sign-up to Golf Australia’s national participation programs - including Get Into Golf, MyGolf and the Community Golf Instructor program via www.golf.org.au 

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