29 May 2024 | Participation | Industry news |

Melbourne Rainbow Golfers ensuring golf is a sport for all

by Patrick Taylor

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Jack Hendy spoke to Australian golf staff about diversity, inclusion and representation in golf.

Jack Hendy's golf journey begins like many others before him, heading out to the local course and playing with his dad. However, the direction his journey took next is unfortunately all too common within the LGBTQIA+ community.

Hendy became disillusioned with golf as he grew older, believing that there was no place for him in the sport he loved. A long hiatus ensued, until a move from Essex in England to Melbourne, and a burning passion to get back into the game led him to establishing Melbourne Rainbow Golfers with co-founder Julie Williams.

"There was already Sydney Rainbow Golfers, so we actually aligned with their naming conventions, followed suit as Melbourne Rainbow golfers for consistency," said Hendy.

"We also chatted to some of the other LGBTQIA+ sports teams within Melbourne like Melbourne Front Runners and t partnered with Proud2play, Australia’s leading organisation dedicated to promoting LGBTQIA+ inclusion in sports and recreation”.

"It's quite a supportive network and everyone's been more than happy to help."

An inclusive golf group for the LGBTQIA+ community, Melbourne Rainbow Golfers aim to provide those who took time away from the game like Hendy, as well as any newcomers, a safe and open space to reignite their golfing passion.

"Participating in anything is better with other people, and so that's the idea behind it: offering the community side as well as the sporting stuff," he said.

With a social golf day pencilled in for the last Sunday of every month, droves of seasoned golfers and complete newcomers alike, are discovering—or rediscovering—their love for golf with Melbourne Rainbow Golfers.

A huge supporter of the group, Northcote Golf Course is the home of the Social Rainbow Golf days, with Yarrambat Park Golf Course host to the annual Rainbow Golf Cup.

Held during Melbourne's Midsumma Festival, Australia's premier queer arts and cultural organisation, the third edition of the Rainbow Golf Cup was held earlier this year.

Played in an Ambrose format, the Rainbow Golf Cup brings LGBTQIA+ golfers and allies together for an annual day of celebration, pride and social competition.

Off the course, Hendy is passionate about growing the work Melbourne Rainbow Golfers do. As part of the recent May 17 IDAHOBIT day activities, marking the date in 1990 when homosexuality was removed from being categorised as a disease by the World Health Organisation, he visited the Australian Golf Centre to talk with Golf Australia and PGA of Australia staff about the importance of representation.

It was hard to miss Hendy on the day, and on the course, where he is often sporting his rainbow shorts, which have a deeper symbolism than simply making him easy to find for newcomers.

"Wearing the rainbow shorts, it's a bit of fun, but I think visually we had a lot of questions in the room around ‘what can we do?’, and I think it's about that representation," Hendy said.

"It's about being overt, having that visual representation that the game is for all different types of people.”

Hendy took staff on not only his journey in golf but shared the perspectives of the collective group that make up Melbourne Rainbow Golfers, in particular what golf clubs across Australia can do to make golf more welcoming for the LGBTQIA+ community.

"I think that you can't understate the power of language. Whether that's having non-gendered tee-markers, or bathrooms, or the language on the scorecards," he said.

"Also, the language from members and from everyone the course, creating that inclusive atmosphere.

"Language is so important, and paired with that representation, being able to see other people in golf is powerful.

"Together they can help to paint that picture, that golf is a game for all."

You can keep up to date with Melbourne Rainbow Golfers events and social meets on their Instagram and Facebook pages.

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