18 Jun 2024 | Participation | Women and girls |

WA club finds a new member magic formula

by Golf WA

Augusta GC women

Augusta Golf Club in Western Australia has enjoyed a remarkable success rate in converting attendees to its women’s beginners’ classes into new members.

The South West regional club staged its first two series of Get Into Golf clinics for women in January and May with 16 of the 17 participants converting to full membership.

It could have been a 100% conversion rate but for one of the attendees moving to Perth for work purposes.

But that’s okay because another of the eager participants was so enthused that her husband signed up for membership alongside her.

With three further series of clinics coming up – one for men, one for women and one for juniors – a similar strike rate would see the club increase its total membership numbers by a significant proportion in the space of just a few months.

The driving force behind the success is Augusta GC member Barb Wall, a former international squash champion, who has given her all to the cause.

With support from club president John Butcher, Barb worked with GolfWA and the WA Golf Foundation to secure funding for five series of Get Into Golf clinics, each running for four weeks and involving 8-10 participants.

WA golf icon Shani Waugh was drafted in to deliver the first session at each of the women’s clinics, with John and Barb – both accredited Community Instructors – taking over from that point on.

Both passionate social golfers, John and Barb have done much more than simply overseeing some skills and course etiquette sessions: they have pulled out all the stops to sell the social benefits of golf club membership to their charges.

“Golf is one of the most beautiful social games of all and being able to demonstrate that to new golfers is so important,” Barb told GolfWA.

“The 19th hole plays a strong part in providing a space to discuss the day with fellow golfers. If clubs aren’t harnessing that, their attempts to bring in new members are going to be less effective.

“We’re trying to show that golf is a game for everybody and seeing the camaraderie and connection between our new and old members is so good to see.”

John endorsed Barb’s point of view, adding: “The social side is just as important as the golf. We’ve focused a lot on that and make sure that our new and prospective members have plenty of opportunities to interact with existing members at the 19th hole.”

As well as being good for overall club morale, such interactions can also play a part in boosting the confidence of new members to get into competitive golf at an earlier stage.

To that end, the club has introduced a nine-hole Saturday morning competition that will take place immediately before the traditional 18-hole men’s comp and serve as a pathway for new golfers to progress from introductory clinics to playing more regularly on course.

Several graduates of Augusta’s women’s clinics have already signed up to compete in the new competition and it is hoped that prospective male members who are taking part in the Get into Golf clinics in July will also join the fun in due course.

“Like a lot of country clubs, we struggle to attract new members, so the results we’ve seen since the first two series of clinics have been amazing,” added John.

“All kudos to Barb. She’s put a lot of time and energy into making these sessions a success. The whole experience has been exceptional and it’s something the club really needed.”

John and Barb’s top tips for regional clubs

  • Reach out to Golf Australia, GolfWA and the WA Golf Foundation to discuss staging a series of beginners’ clinics at your club. Running Get Into Golf sessions for adults and MyGolf sessions for juniors allows you to access a load of excellent promotional resources from Golf Australia.

  • Incentivise participants to take up full membership. At Augusta, we refunded the cost of the clinics ($60 pp) to all who became club members.

  • You need a good promotional vehicle to get the word out there. As well as our club’s Facebook page, we have a page in the monthly Pelican Post community newsletter, where we advertise our upcoming clinics.

  • Harness the 19th hole! Create opportunities for new/prospective members to socialise and interact with existing members.

  • Access a PGA pro to deliver sessions if you can. This adds credibility to the program. We were very lucky to have the support of Shani Waugh for our women’s clinics, while Josh Herrero (Bunbury GC) will deliver our first men’s clinic. GolfWA and Golf Australia can help clubs with this.

  • Find energetic and passionate social golfers to drive the program and ‘sell’ the benefits of golf from a sporting and social perspective.

Augusta women on course

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