20 Oct 2020 | Women and girls |

How Forster Tuncurry GC caters to its population

by Golf Australia

Foster Tuncurry_image
Budding Birdie participants at their Christmas breakup and graduation day at Foster Tuncurry.

The Club:

The Forster Tuncurry Golf Club incorporates the Forster and Tuncurry golf course. The club is in the Great Lakes area on the NSW mid-north coast, a three-hour drive north from Sydney. 

With a current golfing membership of around 1,121, competitions are run seven days a week and visitors are welcome to join a competition or play socially when tee time slots are available.

There are four PGA Professionals and a General Manager on site. 24% of members are female. 

Local demographic:

  • Population: 14,267

  • Median age: 54 (national average 38)

  • Children aged 0-14 years: 14.1% of the population (average 18.7%)

  • People aged 65+ years: 34.9% (average 15.8%)

  • People born in Australia: 81.7% (average 66.7%)

  • Full-time workers: 46% of the population (average 57.7%)

  • Part-time workers: 39.5% (average 30.4%)

  • Median household weekly income: $871 (average $1,203) 


Who makes up your local community? Do you have a young or an aging population? Do you have a transient community or are you in a new estate where young families are moving in? Perhaps you are in an area where new arrivals from a specific nationality are settling? 

It is important that golf facilities across the country are aware of who lives locally so they can cater for and offer relevant programs to their target population.

The story: 

With the median age of its local population being 16 years above the national average, the Forster township has proved to be a popular place for people to retire.

In terms of attracting people to club membership and competition, retirees can be ‘low-hanging fruit’. Having delivered ‘Budding Birdies’– a program aimed at female retirees who want to learn how to play and move into club membership and competition play, Forster Tuncurry Golf Club has ensured this fruit is in fact being picked. 

“I keep thinking surely this year will be quieter but each year the program continues to grow,” said Robyn Baker, a key volunteer who runs the program. “When I took over the program nine years ago, we had about eight girls participating, this year we already have 35 enrolled to start their golf journey in 2020!

“Everyone is working together – our resident PGA Instructor Daniel Newton runs lessons and six-week clinics called Get into Golf – for Seniors so women and men can learn the basics. He then refers women to our club program and our team of 30 volunteers then take these beginners out on-course each Saturday afternoon.

“Most of us are not spectacular golfers but we show the girls how to navigate their way around a course, how to score, basic etiquette and so forth. We always keep in mind that their experience needs to be fun and not to overload them with too much information. 

“When I started golf, all I had was a few private lessons and was then was thrown straight into competition – it was horrendous. I am pleased we offer the Budding Birdies program to others as it is a good steppingstone to play.” 

To access this program, all women need to do is sign up as a social member (costing $12 per year) and then pay green-fees when they play. There are also golf clubs available to borrow, taken from club members who have donated. 

“Each Saturday afternoon the girls play nine holes of individual stableford. Once they start having decent and consistent scores, we encourage them to graduate from our program. This may take them anywhere from six months to one year before they take up a form of club membership that suits them.”

The club’s general manager, David Kleemann, is also very supportive of the program. “We are the biggest self-retired area in NSW, so this program makes sense. It is also a great way to engage the wives of the male members we have. They get to taste the wine as such, like it and then filter into something more substantial if they wish”. 

Challenges and solutions:

"The program has only survived for over 10 years because of our volunteers”, said Robyn Baker.  “In the beginning, I was helping every Saturday afternoon and was burning out. It has been wonderful to now have a larger base of volunteers as this means we only need to do one shift per month which is not too onerous."

The large base of volunteers at the club has stemmed from:

  1. The club having a large membership base to draw from 

  2. A continuous cycle of Budding Birdie graduates returning to help (about 12 graduates of the program assisted in 2019).

“Like myself, our volunteers do it because they simply enjoy it. There is nothing quite like seeing beginners improve and getting so excited when they score their first par etc. You just keep coming back! It has been a lovely way for women to meet new friends to start their golfing journey with, as well as meet women who play in the club’s main competition days.

“We also run a big Christmas Budding Birdie party where participants provide lunch for the volunteers who have helped them during the year. It is always an amazing spread of food and we celebrate those women graduating from the program.

“It can be difficult to get a program up and running but persistence pays. Year by year the program has grown to a point where nearly all participants are recruited by word of mouth now as it is just known around town.

“Everyone is in on it – from the club board, to the pro, our general manager and our members – we are lucky to have full club support”.


  • Starting any kind of new program can be difficult, but persistence pays. Even if you start with small numbers, keep on pursuing as overtime your program should grow.

  • Many women lack the confidence and knowledge to progress from lessons to on-course play. By introducing the participants to the course early, you not only develop this confidence, but you make the connection between learning the skills and using the skills more familiar. This is a core principle at the centre of the Get Into Golf program.

  • Find out who makes up your local community and cater accordingly. The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) site provides a good summary of your local demographic.

Some examples follow:

  • Are there lots of young families in your area? Run a MyGolf program.

  • Is your club in a retiree area? Look into the Get Into Golf Seniors program.

  • Is there a significant number of people that have migrated from another country and who speak another language at home? All of our MyGolf & Get Into Golf marketing material have been translated into three other languages (Hindi, Arabic & Mandarin).

Sign-up to Golf Australia’s national participation programs - including Get Into Golf, MyGolf and the Community Golf Instructor program!

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