04 Jun 2024 | Clubs and Facilities |

Feature: A transformation at Half Moon Bay

by Martin Blake

Half Moon Bay image
Half Moon Bay is a resurgent club after recent changes.

The doors are open at Half Moon Bay Golf Club, a pretty course just north of Cairns that has adopted modern best practice to improve itself.

The change has been effected by general manager Tim Mackrill, who took up his position at two years ago.

Half Moon Bay in the community of Yorkeys Knob has almost instantly become a more welcoming, inclusive and community-based environment. The transformation of the club is broad, and includes:

• The club became just the third Queensland club to sign the R&A’s Women in Golf Charter, a commitment to improve connection with women and girls in the sport which has been signed by more than 1300 organisations around the world.

• It joined the Australian Golf Foundation’s girls scholarship program.

• Half Moon Bay installed two simulator bays with Trackman technology to engage not only with current members but people from outside the sport.

• A workforce engagement review identified the need for younger staff, which has been addressed.

• A constitutional review, which is ongoing, set a target of having 40 percent women’s participation on the club committee (currently two of seven).

• Members can play at any time with no distinction between men and women or allocated days for genders.

• The club bought two Paragolfer units to encourage participation by golfers with disability, and signed a partnership agreement with World Blind Golf, installing technology for audible tee times on the course.

• Half Moon Bay has instituted a junior challenge at the back end of the competition field and is hellbent on engaging with young people.

All of this began from a conversation between Mackrill and Golf Australia’s Clubs and Facilities Manager – North, Andrew Leventis.

Mackrill came from an Australian football background – he had previously worked for the AFL in Cairns and Rockhampton – and felt the need for the club to embrace some of the philosophies outlined in the 2021 Australian Golf Strategy set down by Golf Australia along with the other key bodies in the sport.

Mackrill also had a belief that first impressions matter in sport. A lifelong golfer, he could have been lost to the sport early when a group of friends hit the driving range in country Queensland for a clinic, only to be shut out by a grumpy staff member at the course after one golf ball went flying in the wrong direction.

“They basically shut down the clinic,” he said. “They didn’t want to know our story. They made it like they were doing us a favour being there. It didn’t lose me to the game, but it was difficult after that to get friends to come and have a swing.’’

That’s the kind of environment that he is avoiding at Half Moon Bay. Mackrill wants the club to reflect the society that it hails from. “In Cairns, it’s 55 percent women, 45 percent men. If as a club if you’re seen as having only men on the board or women on the board, you’re not going to be as attractive to the opposite gender. We’re making sure that the committee’s as gender neutral as possible.

“For women in particular, it provides that greater element of safety is there and their concerns will always be aired and heard. For us, it’s horses for courses. The best applicant gets voted in.”

The same goes for young people at the club, which is why Half Moon Bay has hired staff recently with a different age demographic. “It’s super-important that your workforce replicates your membership,” said Mackrill.

“If we want to target younger people coming into the game, we need that replicated in our employment stream. For a teenager, if they see people their age as an employee, they feel a bit safer I suppose. It takes away that stigma of the game being for elderly, white men and for the privileged. We advocate that golf is a game for all.”

The simulators also are designed to bring a new demographic to the club (although to this point, the members are dominating usage).

Mackrill believes that golf is flying in Australia, and equally in tropical Queensland. To him, it’s a case of catching the wave.

“The game itself is going a long way forward. We’re jumping in on the ride because it’d be silly not to. The clubs who don’t will be left behind. The take-up is very strong and people vote with their feet.”

Information about Half Moon Bay GC

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