04 Apr 2024 | Clubs and Facilities |

At Clermont, everyone's welcome

by Martin Blake

Clermont Golf Club image
Club captain Rohan Barnes (left) and president Ross Faint at Clermont.

Golf’s critics tend to focus on exclusive private clubs with high fences and strict rules, but forget that they are but a sliver of the game itself. At places like Clermont Golf Club in Queensland, which has members but is also open to the public, the doors are wide open every day.

It’s also a club that shows the value of volunteers, dozens of them who make the organization and the facility tick.

Clermont, a nine-holer based in the 3000-population coal mining town in outback Queensland, is thriving, according to club captain Rohan Barnes.

The club has one paid employee – the bar manager. Everything else, from course maintenance to repairs and maintenance, is done by volunteers.

As an example of how it works – and it will be a familiar tale to many clubs in regional areas – Clermont installed a new pool table recently which required some heavy lifters.

The table replaced the four poker machines that the club’s board wanted out, and it’s more social in their eyes. “We put the call out and we had five people helping us within a few minutes,” said Barnes, now into his third year as captain as well as vice-president.

The local coal mine, which employs many of the golfers, is heavily engaged as a sponsor.

Many of the town’s businesses strongly support the club, and tradesmen who don’t even necessarily play the sport tend to be happy to complete works at competitive prices.

“One of the guys who’s just started playing does a lot of grounds work. He’s just done coring and sanding a number of the greens.

“Our president (Ross Faint) pretty much lives there. He runs two properties just out of town but he’s always there repairing pipes, digging holes. He just lives and breathes there. There’s always something going on.”

Clermont could teach a few clubs and facilities about how to connect with its community, too.

This has been more evident than ever in the past couple of years with the annual community day, scheduled for 15 June this year.

The club sends out an invitation to everyone in the district for a day of four-ball Ambrose golf, music and fun, with over $50,000 in prizes and takings going to local not-for-profit community groups. The club pockets the bar takings and at the same time, connects itself with the town.

Clermont the club is pushing forward with membership rising from 70 to 110 in the past two seasons, an increase of more than 50 percent. “Not everyone’s a playing member but it’s a bloody good sign for what’s going on around the place and the work that’s been done,’’ said Barnes.

“There has been a bit of a passing of the torch now with a lot of newer and younger members coming on board with helping run the club with the long-term members.”

The club also views women and girls as a potential area of membership growth. Access to the course is open to all genders at all times with no separate competitions. “We’re trying to attack that,’’ said Barnes. “The numbers say it (women’s golf) is a market there to be hit. The interest is there, it’s just about making it a welcoming environment.”

Clermont resumed hosting an annual pro-am last year after a 25-year hiatus and that event is on again this year, on June 26 with a new naming-rights sponsor, JET Group.

Investigations are ongoing but the club believes that 2025 will be its centenary year. If it turns out to be the case, a raft of ideas is being considered for the celebration. “That will be monstrous for us. There’s potential to really capitalize on a few things.”

Join our newsletter

Get weekly updates on news, golf tips and access to partner promotions.

Related News

Golf Australia NEW LOGO White Mono_logo
Join our newsletter

Get weekly updates on news, golf tips and access to partner promotions!